March 7, 2008


Huckabee's Improbable Insurgency (MICHAEL SCHERER, 3/06/08, TIME)

His concession to John McCain Tuesday night capped off a remarkable year-long odyssey that took the nation and Iowa by storm, defied the expectations of his critics and, ultimately, help set the stage for McCain's nomination. "We started this effort with very little recognition and virtually no resources," Huckabee deadpanned from a hotel ballroom in Irving, Texas, as he took his final bow. "We ended with slightly more recognition and very few resources."

From the beginning of his presidential run, Huckabee was counted out. The list of particulars went on without end: He lacked the money, the connections, the Washington advisors and the endorsements. He was too openly religious. He had a funny last name, crooked teeth and the fiscal conservatives didn't trust him. His books offered oddly quaint instructions, like "report litter" and don't swear. He had once supported the release from prison of a rapist, Wayne DuMond, who went on to commit murder. His campaign staff could, for a time, be counted on one hand, then two. He was never expected to be a serious factor.

Yet voters have the final say, so Huckabee persevered, despite single-digit polls and quarterly fundraising totals well below what other campaigns spent in a week. He flew commercial airlines, carried his own bags, wrote his own talking points, and appeared on cable television every chance he got. By the fall, something was happening in Iowa, largely on the strength on his connection with evangelical voters. And suddenly all the other candidates had to take notice. In a very literal way, Huckabee had succeeded in selling the merits of his own outsider story.

...but the notion that a Southern governor/Evangelical minister doing well in GOP primaries is improbable has to ignore a whole lot of Republican realities. Just a for instance: the Reverend Pat Robertson finished second in IA despite not even being a politician.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 7, 2008 8:09 AM
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