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. Lev Klinemann, Redondo Beach CA

    Republicans are always on a lookout for the next Reagan.

    First it was Fred, now its Huckabee...tomorrow, who knows.

    This group of Republicans who grew up (in their 20 and 30, they are 45-55 today) when Reagan was the president will go to their graves believing that Reagan was the second coming of Christ (I don't mean this literally, but you get the point).

    Reagan time was when this country started turning into something the US never was. The unions were smeared and destroyed, the government regulations were removed, big business took over (yes I know big business is responsible for the rise of the US, but that was when they were regulated). This is the time when the "free trade agreements" came to life, removing the tariff system and allowing the big business companies to move their production lines to 3rd world child labor sites, in effect destroying many small American towns.

    ...and all though all this worked for a few years during the Reagan terms, we are reaping what we sowed.

    You can't deny that you cannot raise a family of 4 or 5 on an average income of one person today.

    Reagan, and his policies started all this, thru the guise of "personal responsibility" and "government is the problem". The government wasn't perfect, but it seemed to me that it had worked for over 200 years.

    Reagan was the first step into destroying what FDR did.

    Reagan was the biggest mistake the US ever made, and it's going to take a lot to get us back to the FDR days.

    When the next generation of Americans, who didn't live thru and wasn't fooled by Reagan’s "beautiful speeches" look back at Reagan, they will see him for the true monster he was.

    We shouldn't be looking for another Reagan, we should be looking for the next Franklin D. Roosevelt.

    December 14, 2007 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  2. David, Dallas Tx

    This is awesome. If Huckabee wins the Republican nomination it will be that much easier to get a Democrat into the white house. America likes her leaders to have faith but is tired of the problems caused by those who blindly follow ideology.

    This will be an especially easy win if Obama lands the Democratic ticket, as Christians will have the option of voting for a fellow devout Christian who actually embraces Christian values like helping the poor and disadvantaged and promoting peace.

    After all, if Jesus were here he wouldn’t be a pro-big-business cut-benefits-to-the-poor war-mongering religious right Republican.

    Go Huckabee!!

    December 14, 2007 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  3. VB Lincoln Park NJ

    I don't care who wins the GOP (GREED OVER PRINCIPLE) nomination.

    The fact is that any change from president idiot will be welcome, and hopefully the GOP will be a big loser in 2008, deservedly.

    This administration will go down in history as THE WORST EVER!!!

    December 14, 2007 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  4. Val Davydov, Agawam, MA

    Truth Seeker:

    Knock it off! You said, "You won't understand Huckabee if you don't understand the God of the bible."

    That's is exactly why Huckabee cannot be president. WE ARE TRYING TO ELECT THE PRESIDENT for cryting out loud, not a minister or a preacher. Presidential candiate doesn't have to "understand" the Bible. He does have to understand the US Constitution however. I am a Christian, and I am sick of hearing that the President has to be religious and someone that understands the Bible.


    December 14, 2007 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  5. Brad, from the great state of Texas

    I'm not sure why CNN didn't post a comment I made earlier... the main point I had made was that although Huckabee does lack experience in things like foreign policy (so did Clinton, who held the same job as Huckabee, but it didn't bother liberals then), the real reason so many are against him is because he is a Christian who sticks to his beliefs. Folks like 'Kunle love to throw around the word "tolerance" as if saying it is some kind of magic wand, all the while failing to admit they are prejudiced against any and all things Christian. Then these same haters start calling evangelicals names like "the Taliban" to create fear of religion. The word for that is "fear-mongering", the same thing they accuse Bush and Republicans of doing. Just calling it like I see it.

    Susan... so what if Huckabee doesn't believe in evolution? Like the story of Adam and Eve, it is and always will be an unprovable theory. Nobody was around when the Earth was created, so why are people like Huck "squirrly"? I think it's just as squirrly that so many people accept the THEORY of global warming as gospel when just a few decades ago there was an uproar about global cooling. Ironic, huh?

    December 14, 2007 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  6. Jim Cleveland ohio

    This guy knows nothing about the Constitution and would chnage it out for rthe Bible.

    We are 60 trillion in debt and this is what the American Peeople want to see??

    His sopllutionis to have evreyone hold hands and sing Amazaing grace

    December 14, 2007 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  7. Norman

    After sifting through the angry, disturbed comments of Ron Paul supporters and the near-do-well leftwingers, one occasionally hears a simlance of rationality. There is a reason for the national surge of Mike Huckabee. He is a conservative by conviction. His honesty and sincerity shine through all of the mudslinging. The American people like him and believe him. We havn't had such quality in a long time.

    December 14, 2007 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  8. James, Lake Mary, FL

    Bobby, Orlando, fl ..I choose to vote for you as village idiot in '08.

    December 14, 2007 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  9. Demon Joe, Atlanta Gawga

    Jim in Cleveland, turn on your spell-check. I appreciate your views more if I can read them.

    Ed, I hope you can slap some science into Huckabee!
    It won't make me vote for him, but he'll sound less stupid.

    December 14, 2007 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  10. Andrew, NYC

    Hoorray for Huckabee!
    Another reason why educated people around the world think we Americans are crazy....
    Nothing like a bible-thumpin' biggot to unite the country and restore our position as a respected leader on the world stage.
    With the great minds behind Reagan (who, let's remember, had Alzheimer's disease while in office- a neurogenerative disease of the brain) , now guiding the Huckabee ship, it's hard to imagine anything but smooth saling ahead for the USA... Titanic style.

    December 14, 2007 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  11. Rick, Ames IA

    Huckabee is just having his 15 min. of fame. He will fall from grace when more people realize that he is not who they think he is. And why are people giving the Paul supporters grief? So what if they are more passionate than any of the other candidates supporters. Jealousy I guess.

    December 14, 2007 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  12. Pat, Huntington NY

    Ed Rollins is disgusting, another Karl Rove type. Just goes to show you that Huckabee is even more diabolical than Bush. He's an evil nasty person and the day he's elected president will be judgment day for sure...the rapture and armagedon.

    December 14, 2007 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  13. Marti, Mesa

    I have to admit that I am becoming quite concerned about my fellow Republicans. Are you serious? We're about to nominate someone for the most powerful office in the world and the best thing we can say about the guy is that he's "likeable". "Shucks, we like his witty one-liners and Southern charm."

    Let's discuss records, accomplishments, vision, and capacity to bring about real change.

    Nobody can touch Romney when it comes to PROVEN ABILITY TO LEAD. He's been incredibly successful in business. He brought real vision and leadership to MA and he brought people together to bring about real change. How else do you explain balancing a budget deficit without raising taxes? Finally, he took a scandal laden, financially troubled Olympics and made them a huge success.

    Mitt Romney has shown time and again in everything he has done that he is a real executive capable of taking on big problems.

    I'm amazed when I read the posts that say "Mitt hasn't told us *how* he's going to do this or that.' Are you kidding? Of ALL the candidates out there on both sides, Romney is the ONLY candidate who has actually put a real health care plan in place. He doesn't need to speculate about how it might be done. HE'S ALREADY DONE IT!! Just like he did with health care, just like he did erasing a budget deficit without raising taxes, just like he turned around the Olympics and countless businesses…like he's *always* done, he'll lay out a clear plan, put the right people in place, and execute.

    That's what we need people – A PROVEN LEADER.

    I am definitely voting for ROMNEY!

    December 14, 2007 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  14. Michelle, AL

    I don't understand why Hucklebee's personal beliefs are something to ridicule. If you're not a Christian, and you don't agree with his view on evolution vs. creation or anything else in the Bible, that is your right. But is that any reason to belittle him and the BILLIONS of other Christians who believe the same? Why is Huckabee in the lead, if he's so stupid? I guess that means there are millions of stupid people living right here in America too, eh? If that's the case, if you have all the right answers, why live in a country full of idiots, who are supporting one of their own? Just move to England or some other atheistic, liberal country where moral relativism is the prevalent ideology. Seems this country was established on the principle that you are free to believe as you wish without fear of persecution.
    I'm sure if the Pilgrims lived here today, they'd set sail for a different place to find some religious freedom without being called names. To some people, the idea of God and Creation and everything in the Bible is holy and sacred. If you don't agree, at least have some respect for those who do.

    December 14, 2007 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  15. Kevin, Princeton, NJ

    Ok, I'm not sure about everyone else, but the GOP primary (as depicted by the media) has been scaring me ridiculously, I'm a Republican fiscally, and theology doesn't even come close to touching why I'm voting. The sad realization is if peoples beliefs are going to decide who we vote for on the GOP side, the GOP is going to lose all the rational voters who don't believe the president's beliefs should have any play in the government.

    Setting Huckabee's religious beliefs aside, he's an ok fellow, but realistically, he doesn't have the strength on the issues. Being a nice guy also shouldn't play a role in who we vote for.

    December 14, 2007 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  16. Patrick, Huntington Station, NY

    Living in the NY tristate area, I had the pleasure of viewing all the NJ governor election coverage, and I recall when Ed Rollins was Christine Todd Whitman's campaign manager, he admitted to suppressing the black vote turnout by paying off black democrat ministers, or something like that. Don't vote for HucKKKabee!

    December 14, 2007 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  17. Lee Brenn, St Paul

    Wow. This makes the headline, but no mention of the 200ft Ron Paul blimp (dreamt and funded by independent volunteers) that took flight this morning.

    The MSM sucks.

    December 14, 2007 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  18. Jackson Maxim

    Egads, all of these Huckabee supports are FAR worse than the Paul supporters ever were.

    December 14, 2007 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  19. Joseph H, Warner Robins, GA

    Here's an angry, disturbing comment on Ron Paul – we are going to set another campaign fundraising record on December 16th, how about that?
    Ron Paul, without a doubt, has the MOST active supporters, regardless of party. I see NO other candidate getting the same kind of volunteer effort as Ron Paul (I know GOP, Dem, Independents, all working for Ron Paul). We the People are angry and tired of the BS coming from Washington and America's sovereignty being sold up the river. Ron Paul supporters are in this race for the long haul and his ideas are catching on across the country and people are beginning to wake up. A balanced-budget, limited federal government with a non-interventionist foreign policy, a sound dollar backed by something other than consumer confidence & Americans being taken care of first for once; these sound like "crazy" ideas to me.

    December 14, 2007 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  20. Mike, Cleveland, OH

    Eric, from THE Republic of Texas

    Your comments intrigue me. Yes, I will agree we have had economic growth for 25 years, with a few bouts of recession. But seeing that we've had 8 years with Reagan, 8 years with Clinton, 8 years with Bush; how does that prove that "Reaganomics" worked?
    Furthermore, you cite Ireland's incredible growth in economy as being a result of an adaptation of "Reaganomics," but you offer no evidence to support your theory.

    December 14, 2007 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  21. EdwardsMan in: , Fort Myers, FL

    Shazam!!...look at how he helped Mr. Kemp and Mr. Perrot to get elected President? Thanks Huckleberry–urh..and Chuck.

    December 14, 2007 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  22. Nat, Brooklyn, NY

    Rollins is not a regular contributor on Lou Dobbs. I've seen him first time on broadcast 1 or 2 days ago. I guess he already knew that his announcement is coming. Huckabee is not going to become the next Ronald Reagan. He doesn't have anything to offer to public to be even close to Great President.

    December 14, 2007 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  23. Jim St Louis MO

    Susan – according to evolution, squirrels should vote.

    December 14, 2007 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  24. Scott, Orlando, fl

    People want someone with convictions, not someone who changes all the time when the need arises. They also want someone like the mainstream world, not the elite and wealthy. They are also tired of folks like Rush and Hannity telling us who to vote for !


    December 14, 2007 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  25. SPR

    I am sure all the candidates have good qualities and maybe some you disagree with emphatically. But we need to select a candidate, let alone senators, representatives, local politicians etc. that has an opportunity to change some significant wrongs our country faces in the near and distant future. I have heard Mr. Guiliani, Mr.Romney, Sen.Clinton, Sen.Obama mention the patented cliches of "more of the same" genra (while sounding new and improved and hope for change), it will be very similar to what we have had for 15 years...sadly on some accounts. We have sold our country out...violated the Constitution many times (i.e. allowing foreign powers 'WTO' to control our trade)...sent liveable wages abroad, help create the next great foreign power, increased our velocity toward being more of a debtor nation in the process (notice petroleum, concrete, steel product prices etc.) and have now seen the credit bubble beginning to come undone. A layed off employee makes about 60% of what he/she previously earned and we are still losing jobs at an alarming rate. Does the Beijing Cowboys sound like a team you could root for? The only two candidates that seem different in this election are RON PAUL and JOHN of them will get my vote. Hang in there everybody...change is inevitable.

    December 14, 2007 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
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