August 13th, 2007
05:00 PM ET
16 years ago

Huckabee's star rising

Huckabee, second from left, plays with his band, Capital Offense as an Elvis impersonator from Duncan Hunter's campaign helps out with a rendition of Johnny-Be-Good Saturday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - In the battle for the republican nomination - Mitt Romney did what he was expected to do - -win this weekend's straw poll in Ames, Iowa. But the guy who came in second could be the real success story. And that guy is Mike Huckabee.

The former Arkansas governor is not a household name. He even admits it. "I know I'm relatively unknown to the national scene,” says Huckabee.

Huckabee’s also not your typical politician. He’s an ordained Baptist minister who plays guitar in a rock and roll band. He performed for his supporters Saturday at Ames. And now, thanks to a strong second place finish at the Iowa Republican presidential straw poll - he's getting some attention.

Huckabee opposes abortion rights - and he's against legalizing gay marriage. That could play well with social conservatives who may have problems with Republican candidates much higher up in the polls. "When people say we're just dissatisfied with the field that may be the top of the field but now they're beginning to realize there's another candidate out there and they don't have to keep waiting on Fred Thompson to get in the race,” says Huckabee.

“It was a big win for Huckabee in Iowa, because his polling numbers have consistently been in the low single digits in most national and state surveys,” says CNN Political Editor Mark Preston. “To prove that Saturday's strong showing wasn't a fluke, Huckabee must now show he can raise the millions of dollars needed to be a top flight candidate."

While Huckabee's star may be rising - it's just opposite for Tommy Thompson. " You play the game. Some people win, some people lose. I happen to be on the losing end this time,” said the former Wisconsin Governor and Bush Administration cabinet secretary as he dropped out of the race for the White House on Sunday.

Thompson' campaigned heavily in Iowa the past few months. He said he needed a second place finish in the straw poll - and he didn't come close.

"I had my chance and it didn't come out the way I thought it was going to but that's life."

Only 14,000 people actually voted in this weekend’s Iowa Republican straw poll. And the various campaigns bused many of those people in, and paid for their fees to vote. So while the results from the straw poll are interesting, lets keep them in perspective.

And remember, the Iowa caucuses, which kick off the presidential primary season, are still five long months away.

- CNN Deputy Political Editor Paul Steinhauser

Filed under: Iowa • Mike Huckabee • Tommy Thompson
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Bruce, Franklin, TN

    The only non-sleazy candidate with a chance (apologies to Ron Paul supporters).

    August 13, 2007 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  2. Jon Eliot, Bellingham, WA

    All this hoopla over just 14,000 folks? Hard to get excited when most of the top tier weren't even there.

    Just how long is a moth anyway?

    August 13, 2007 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  3. BassPlayersLikeFatBottoms, New York NY

    No article I've seen has yet got this right. Huckabee plays the bass, not the guitar. Though a bass is technically a guitar, it is a four-stringed instrument tuned an octave lower than a traditional guitar; it is a backing instrument that, along with the drums, forms the rhythm section. Why the bass? A politician and a pastor, Huckabee cannot be a retiring person who shrinks from the spotlight. I surmise then that he is a frustrated guitarist who found an easier way to the stage via a generally less-demanding instrument.

    August 13, 2007 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  4. Uncle, Nashville TN

    "I surmise then that he is a frustrated guitarist who found an easier way to the stage via a generally less-demanding instrument."

    Thank you Ludwig Von Freud.

    August 13, 2007 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  5. John, Ca.

    I have been wondering when he would get noticed. A true conservative with executive experience. If he can raise some money, don't count him out.

    I remember someone else from Hope, Arkansas that came from no where after placing a surprising second. What was his name.......?

    Never mind I don't want to jinx him. Well actually I do. As a Democrat I think that he would be a more formidable candidate than some of the current Republican front runners.........................So........................Bill Clinton!

    There, that should doom him among the kool-aid drinkers.

    August 13, 2007 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  6. Chris Moller, Cary NC

    Mike Huckabee is one of the latter-day thieves of the formerly good name of the Republican Party. He epitomises the narrow-minded, bigoted, bible-thumping, "Republicans" intent on imposing, by law, the tenets of their bible on everyone else.

    Are there any real Goldwater/Reagan Republicans left out there? If so, you need to get busy and dump the theocrats–2006 demonstrated conclusively that they cannot be elected in 2008.

    I don't know which scares me more: The rob-the-citizens-blind-and-pander-to-the-"poor"
    Democrats or the rob-the-citizens-blind-and-kill-more-infidels Republicans.

    August 13, 2007 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  7. Dave, Chandler, AZ

    I don't agree with everything Huckabee says, but at least I believe that Huckabee agrees with everything Huckabee says.

    Hey CNN, stop spending all your time covering Romney, McCain, Giuliani, Clinton and Obama. If I want to listen to a bunch of dishonest crap, I can just watch "W".

    Huckabee, Ron Paul, Mike Gravel, and Dennis Kucinich actually bring real ideas to the debate. I don't agree with a lot of it, but at least it has enough substance to disagree with it. Even Tancredo and Brownback believe what is coming out of their mouths.

    Stop trying to split hairs between the game-show-host front-runners and give equal time to all of the candidates.

    If people got their news from C-SPAN, we might actually live in a democrary.

    August 14, 2007 05:04 am at 5:04 am |
  8. bret, atl, ga

    He can't raise any money, so go ahead and count him out, heh.

    He's just angling to get on somebody's ticket as a veep (Giuliani, maybe?). I have it on good authority from someone who lived through this guys AR administrations, that he is a big-time fraud. Investigate as you will.

    August 14, 2007 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  9. Laurie Luster, Killeen, Texas

    It might be a worthy endeavor there for someone to dig up some background on former Ark. Gov. Mike Huckabee, especially since the Republicans seem to think he's so cool. Anyone who has lived in Arkansas during his tenure as guv is familiar his perkaholic tendencies and other tacky, less than Christian behaviors.

    When I lived in Arkansas back in the '90's, there was always some story or semi scandal in the papers about Hucka-buck abusing his gubanatorial perks. And he left office in a wake of tacky scandal. Yes, he loves the money and stuff. Lots of stuff and money. Check it out for yourself by simply typing in "Huckabee" in the search box of the Arkansas Times at http://www. "The Leopard's Spots" by Max Brantley is one of the first articles listed and it's a good start.

    Have fun!

    August 14, 2007 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  10. Diane, San Francisco, CA

    Way to go, Huckabee!

    August 14, 2007 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  11. AJ, Montpelier, VT

    Another hypocritical hate filled Bible banging bigot runs for the Republican nomination, surprise, surprise!!

    August 14, 2007 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  12. David, Salinas, CA

    I think Mike Huckabee has a legitimate shot at the nomination. He seems to be an honest and affable true believer in the conservative cause. (Meaning he believes in guns, war and Wal-mart, but not evolution, stem cell research or civil rights).

    Huckabee’s biggest advantages are the fatal flaws of his Republican opponents: McCain is plagued by terminal honesty and contrary positions on defining issues; Romney is a flip-flopping pretty-boy corporate raider of unpopular faith; Thompson is an empty-suit lobbyist with no non-fictional accomplishments; and Giuliani has a narcissistic personality disorder and more baggage than a 747.

    Considering the weakness of the field, there is some doubt that anyone will win the Republican nomination. It’s somewhat problematic when the leadership of the Republican Party is mostly disgraced, jailed, under indictment, born in Austria or Dick Cheney. Certainly there is still an opening for someone out of far-right field to make a last-minute populist run. Buchanan/Reed? Limbaugh/Coutler? I hear the Draft Montgomery Burns movement is gaining momentum.

    In the meantime, watch out for Mike Huckabee. Anyone who can pass up a funnel-cake must have some serious internal resources.

    August 14, 2007 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  13. Linda - Albany, NY

    I have to agree with AJ from Montpelier, VT.

    Despite the fact that Huckabee can play an instrument and can "entertain," he is still a radical that is completely out of touch with reality. The last thing we need is that running this country!

    Against abortion rights? Go tell the 14 year old that was just raped, conceieved from the heinous act and is having emotional issues due to it that she has to now have that kid because the [president] said so.

    Absolutely unbelievable!

    August 14, 2007 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  14. Bruce, Franklin, TN

    AJ and Linda,

    Judging by your remarks it is apparent that as far as bigotry goes, you have no problem identifying bigots since your remarks indicate that you are of that persuasion yourselves.

    Don't discount people of faith...they are the backbone of this country. And according to recent polls, over 50% of America identify themselves as pro-life, so I don't think that makes Huckabee a fringe lunatic.

    People that automatically reject all thought that they do not agree with tend to be narrow-minded and ignorant. Try some reasoned comments instead of your anger and venom...other people will then respect your opinions more.

    p.s I was pro choice when I was younger, but have realized that my previous position is no longer representative of how I view life today. I'm glad I have the ability to change my mind.

    August 14, 2007 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  15. Simon

    Duncan Hunter has an Elvis impersonator on staff? No wonder his campaign isn't picking up...

    August 14, 2007 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  16. Blanca DeBree, Fond du Lac, WI

    There is a grass roots net campaign starting this weekend with the results of the straw poll being announced. It's being called "Pennies for Huckabee." Since Huckabee came in second to Romney, supporters of Huckabee can show their support by making as many small donations as possible. Each small donation helps to improve the showing of Huckabee in the fund raising race.

    Patterned after the "Pennies for Lady Liberty" campaign of the 19th century, when school children gathered pennies to help build the Statue of Liberty, this campaign encourages people to donate just one penny, as many times as possible. Instead of making one $10 donation, consider making 1,000 one cent donations. When Huckabee announces his fund raising results for the month, he will shoot ahead of Romney and Giuliani and will gain the attention he deserves.

    Go now to to donate today!

    August 16, 2007 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |