December 14th, 2007
09:12 AM ET
14 years ago

Veteran GOP strategist signs on with Huckabee

Ed Rollins is a veteran Republican strategist.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A veteran Republican strategist considered by many the architect of Ronald Reagan's 1984 landslide election victory is set to take the helm of Mike Huckabee's surging presidential bid, CNN has learned.

Ed Rollins - the longtime GOP strategist who worked in the Reagan White House, ran former Sen. Jack Kemp's 1988 White House run, and played a key role in Ross Perot's 1992 presidential bid - will be formally named Huckabee's national campaign chairman later Friday at an event in New Hampshire.

Rollins told CNN's John King that over the last several months he has become "more and more impressed by the day" with Huckabee.

"I had given up the profession and felt this was probably my last campaign and I wanted to help," Rollins said. "Mike is someone with great communications skills and a very approachable message and that is why you see his support growing not just in Iowa but across the country."

Asked if he thought Huckabee - who currently holds leads in key early voting states in several recent polls - has the chance to win the nomination over more well-known and better funded candidates, Rollins said "the skill factor is certainly there."

"There is a great outpouring of support by people who have seen him, and more and more by people who see him from afar and are impressed," he said.

"The struggle now is to take it beyond Iowa and go nationally, and what you have is a growing candidacy, and I think I can help."

Rollins also said his job will include building a broader campaign structure and recruiting more seasoned advisors with experience in running a national presidential campaign.

Rollins is currently a regular contributor to CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight.

- CNN's John King and Dana Bash

Filed under: Mike Huckabee
soundoff (117 Responses)
  1. Geoffery, Alexandria, VA

    Does anyone seem to forget the fact that Huckabee does NOT have ANY foreign relations and policy experience? Didn't anyone see Huck's idiotic, loose cannon comment on Imus when Imus asked him, "So do you think your having zero foreign relations experience will have an affect on your candidacy?" Huck's response was "You're right, I do not have any foreign relations experience, but I did stay at the Holiday Inn last night." Huckabee was trying to be "funny" but PEOPLE! This race is for the President of the United States, Leader of the free world. Huckabee is likeable, but does not have the experience of the other GOP candidates and will defintiely flop in Iowa. Iowan's are not going to fall for his "cute" little puns that his speech writers use to distract questions from foreign policy.

    December 14, 2007 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  2. Lee M

    Go Huckabee! I'm glad he picked up Rollins.

    Mitt Romney may be the candidate of the money wing of the Republican Party, and Giuliani the neocon wing of the party, but the very heart and soul of the mass of regular republican voters is personified by the Huckabee candidacy.

    So despite the lack of name recognition (like 9-11 Giuliani) or the cash and organization (Romney), the "republican people's choice" emerges. His rise was not orchestrated by Fox News (9-11 Giuliani) or corporate America, but by evangelical republicans honestly finding a candidate that thinks like them, and doesn't just give lip service come election time.

    Huckabee will give us a clear choice.

    December 14, 2007 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  3. Gary, Detroit, Mich.

    Eric, the STATE of Texas

    You have only to look to Crawford to see a bumbling federal bureaucracy. That bonehead is borrowing how much a month just from COMMUNIST China? $14 billion?

    December 14, 2007 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  4. Tom

    Jack Kemp was never a U.S. Senator.

    December 14, 2007 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  5. xtina - chicago IL

    I liked your comments, Eric in TX-

    why are people MAD that conservative candidates want them to keep more of their own money and NOT keep giving more and more to Washington to solve things. It's not like they have a stellar record running FEMA, the IRS, etc. Have you seen the excessive Homeland Security people standing around doing nothing at the airports this holiday season? Have you seen the reports on earmark spending Congress is doing? And you want Hillary or Obama who will place high taxes on successful people in order to increase Congress' budgets?! I dont think so.

    December 14, 2007 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  6. rita,boston,ma

    Good luck. I would love to see Huckabee duck it off with Obama...

    December 14, 2007 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  7. karen . nj.

    Huckabee is the only candidate I'm sure I'd vote for and Im not even a regis. Republican. The others? Hmm, I don't see anyone who seems sensible and non-ambitious to me.

    December 14, 2007 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  8. Will, San Francisco, CA

    Lee, I hate to break it to you, but every candidate, save for Ron Paul, represent the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party. Ron Paul is the only candidate who does not endorse pre-emptive nuclear strikes, who does not support the War in Iraq, and who does not support spreading the war into Iran.

    And unlike Huckabee, he does not support sending our troops to die in the name of "honor."

    Folks, please, vote with your heads, not your hearts.

    December 14, 2007 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  9. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    It seems that Huckabee is gaining momentum as well as the support of influential conservatives. I am waiting for Huckabee and Romney to be the top two. I don't think that Rudy, Fred or John will be close much after March; probably start sliding down after Feb. 5. Who knows where Ron Paul will be. There is a lot of sound and fury... Is there a storm of activity to go along with it?

    December 14, 2007 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  10. Brian Tampa, FL

    Liberals blast Huckabee and Bush for their faith yet Obama belongs to one of the most controversial churches in the country and he is looked at as an intellectual vessel of hope. Is it because you don't think Obama really believes what his church teaches or that you just don't care since he has a D after his name.

    December 14, 2007 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  11. Steve, Indianapolis, IN

    Huckabee represents a change in politics. I've always voted democrat and disagree with a lot of Huckabee's politics. But I'd vote for him because of his trustworthiness. I don't think I could stand the sneering back and forth if Romney and Clinton win the nominations...let's try some honesty.

    December 14, 2007 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  12. 'Kunle

    I am being forced to become a religious bigot by listening to all the back-and-forth between Romney and Huckabee over faith. WHO CARES!!!! How about fighting over the issues. Christians should worry about heaven and leave the earth to those of us for whom this will be the best we'll ever have. Let us try to make earth a better and more tolerant place to live in. Christians should just shut up, and wait for heaven. Jeez! I loathe Huckabee. I don't much care for Jesus either.

    December 14, 2007 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  13. Brian Tampa, FL

    Well said Eric. Mostly liberals just parrot what they heard some other liberal mouth off. They don't investigate for themselves and rarely know what they are talking about. Taxes and charitable donations are two different things.

    December 14, 2007 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  14. Angela, Cleveland, OH

    Just how is he going to spin the wives cheerfully submitting to their husbands authority? Is this going to be another take on the infamous "trickle down" theory? These guys are scary. Religous fervor has caused so many problems in the world. And as to our founding fathers back then, think Salem witch burnings.

    December 14, 2007 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  15. J Houston, TX

    which is laughable in itself since everyone has this sick delusion that Reagan was some great President. Somebody stop all this spinning and let me off. I'm going to be sick.

    LOL I'm going to guess you're a very bitter Left Wing nut that wants nothing to do with anything branded "conservative." Columbus is only a few hours from Canada, feel free to get off and get out whenever you like if you're going to be so inflexible and divisive.

    December 14, 2007 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  16. Tim Wilson, Antioch, CA

    I've got some research to do....but has Huck ever lived outside Arkansas, internationally, or run a large enterprise effectively? I feel a vote for Huck is a win for Clinton in 2008. Hope not.

    December 14, 2007 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  17. Brian

    And we all know how successful Ross Perot was in his run!

    December 14, 2007 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  18. David - Oregon City, Oregon

    The recent blitz of the conservative talk show hosts to pull down Huckabee in an effort to promote their conservative candidates of choice is disloyal to their followers at best.

    America’s true conservatives sense their discrimination against Huckabee, but the conservative privileged media who is entrusted to provide balanced conservative observations has refused to admit their preconceived strategies against Huckabee.

    Huckabee was attacked only after he started gaining in the polls. It is very odd that Huckabee was asked to explain again and again the false charges leveled against him by his own party. But the attacks have continued by the party that has left true conservatives. I will never give another dime to the Republican Party.

    The reason is Huckabee was not purchased by Wall Street or the large political action committees. Their money was placed on the wrong horse. Some say the elite media and PAC money providers were at the airport when Huckabee’s ship came in for true American conservatives.

    To the conservative talk show hosts;
    “Stop crying and stand up for true conservatives. Did you know your true colors are showing!

    December 14, 2007 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  19. Greg, Oceanside, CA

    I'm a Republican who will leave the party if Huckabee gets the nod.

    December 14, 2007 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  20. Springfield, VA

    Huckabee = Gomer Pyle with a bible in hand.

    December 14, 2007 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  21. David, Gilbert Arizona

    Reaganomics is what pulled the United States out of the stagflation, high interest rates, and high unemployment Jimmy Carter got us into. Reaganomics cut unemployment in half, reduced government spending in half, cut taxes, and increased the GDP. It was Reaganomics that set the economy on an upward track that carried well into the Clinton Administration. Everyone loves to point to Bill as some great economist but it was Reaganomics that set everything in motion. Like the man or not but Ronald Reagan was indeed a great president when it came to the U.S. economy.

    President Huckabee has a nice ring to it.

    December 14, 2007 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  22. ETM, Springfield, VA

    Hey, J Houston, Texas is right next to Mexico, so why don't you leave. What's the difference anyway; both are 3d world backwaters.

    December 14, 2007 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  23. monkey

    Lemme guess, J in Houston, you are conservative from Texas who wants nothing to do with anything branded "democratic", Texas is very close to Mexico, feel free to jump yer new fence and head there if you and your conservative friends who have made this country an absolute laughing stock of the world the last 7 years want to continue to be divisive and inflexible...

    The Proof is in the Put On

    December 14, 2007 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  24. Guinness, Newark, DE

    This man has publicly stated that he is not a believer in the theory of evolution which is widely accepted by most scientists. The future leader of this country will have at his disposal the most confidential and exhaustive intelligence available to anybody in the world. A skilled world leader should have the ability to analyze this information to forge the best way forward which represents the ideals and interests of the United States. Denying hard facts in favor of religous convictions or gut feeling will only perpetuate the poor policy decisions that has plagued this country for the past seven years.

    December 14, 2007 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  25. LT Jon, Olathe, KS

    Now all Huckabee needs is Karl Rove! Don't worry kids this election can still be won by Huckabee!

    If you take his religion out of the picture there is nothing impressive and plenty scary about Huckabee.

    Please evangelicals, do your country and your party a favor and understand political issues before voting. Believe it or not gays and pro-choice are not the biggest problems facing our country...

    Truth Seeker...History shows that when nations turn to one god, freedom dies.

    I would die fighting before submitting to the theocracy you suggest.

    December 14, 2007 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
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