December 15th, 2007
06:53 AM ET
11 years ago

McCain campaign eyeing Huckabee's surge

"When Mike Huckabee wins Iowa, we then win New Hampshire," said a McCain campaign official.

JAMES ISLAND, South Carolina (CNN) – Maybe there's a reason Sen. John McCain's been so nice to Mike Huckabee lately.

It's increasingly clear that McCain's campaign is partially pinning its New Hampshire hopes on a Huckabee win in the Iowa caucus.

If the former Arkansas governor defeats former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the Hawkeye State, he could very well undercut Romney's long-held support in New Hampshire, allowing McCain to capitalize in the Jan. 8 primary his campaign considers a must-win.

Don't think McCain wants an Iowa win by the former Arkansas governor? Just ask his campaign.

Bobby Harrell, the South Carolina speaker of the House and one of McCain's state chairmen, offered this prediction on Friday night:

"When Mike Huckabee wins Iowa, we then win New Hampshire," he said at a campaign event here. "[McCain's] doing great in Michigan, we win Michigan. He comes to South Carolina, we win South Carolina. Then we are off and running for the momentum that we need to make this happen."

McCain's campaign also sent out an email Friday saying the veteran senator from Arizona "is best positioned to capitalize on a Romney defeat in Iowa – defeating him in New Hampshire, winning Michigan and South Carolina, and going on to sweep Florida and the Super Tuesday states."

That last part remains a bold prediction, but losses for Romney in Iowa and New Hampshire certainly leave open the possibility that McCain, left for dead by pundits this summer, would be in serious contention to win in the state that catapulted him to national prominence in 2000.

Romney remains in the lead in New Hampshire with 32 percent of the vote, according to a CNN/WMUR poll released this week.

He is followed by McCain and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who are tied with 19 percent. (A Huckabee win could also benefit Giuliani, who has devoted more of his energies to New Hampshire than to any of the early voting states, besides Florida.)

Huckabee stands at just nine percent in the Granite State.

Despite the signals being sent out from his campaign, McCain himself said Friday it's impossible to predict anything in a wide-open GOP race without an "establishment candidate."

"Things are in such a state of flux," he told CNN. "You know three of weeks ago Huckabee was down and now he's up and so it's really hard to know what the scenario would be. So I guess the lesson is, we just keep pressing on with our campaign."

- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: Iowa • John McCain • Mike Huckabee • Mitt Romney • New Hampshire • Rudy Giuliani • South Carolina
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Charles

    Of course, a Huckabee victory could also benefit Giuliani. Incidentally, however, Huckabee's rise in Iowa has done nothing to stop Mitt Romney's momentum in New Hampshire- if anything, Romney's poll numbers in NH have continued to rise in the past few days. Therefore, I'm skeptical of this strategy. I wish McCain the best of luck, in any case.

    December 14, 2007 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  2. Indy in AZ

    McCain, you are to be admired for your service to our country, but take it from a fellow "Zonie" your time has now passed. Thank you but it is time for a real change, and the "straight talk express" is out of gas.

    December 14, 2007 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  3. Devin Swanson Fairbanks, AK.

    I don't know about Sen. Cain, but being a democrat with the choices I'm offered,I have, I'm seriously considering jumping to Huckabee.

    December 14, 2007 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  4. New Yorker

    Huckabee-McCain 2008 looks pretty good.

    December 14, 2007 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  5. Joe,NY

    Hukabee-McCain ticket looks good!

    December 15, 2007 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  6. Eric, Salt Lake City, Utah

    We can only hope. Those of us who've actually looked at the head-to-head polls and realize that no other GOPer can beat the Dems. McCain's been pilloried for actually trying to effect consensus solutions that his rivals have at various times spoken in favor of. He understands the need for trimming the budget and playing on our comparative advantage in trade, but also knows that security, human rights, and fair trade rules all require strong foreign policy, meaning diplomacy first and commitment to what we've started. He'll take new info and challenge convention.

    December 15, 2007 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  7. Paulman, Vancouver, British Columbia

    "Huckabee-McCain 2008 looks pretty good."

    Yeah, so I guess I'm not the only one who's been thinking about that as an interesting (potentially good) ticket!

    Now here's another question. Which would be better: Huckabee-McCain or McCain-Huckabee? 😛

    December 15, 2007 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  8. Jonathan, Westboro KS

    Of course McCain is scared; he's scared of Huckabee bringing GOD back into this country and beginning the first truly theocratic rule of law in America. Some of the real sinners were the founding fathers like he's inferred, and when he takes the reins of this land he can start showing the Middle East that Christianity is the One Way.

    December 15, 2007 02:30 am at 2:30 am |
  9. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    "Of course McCain is scared; he's scared of Huckabee bringing GOD back into this country and beginning the first truly theocratic rule of law in America."


    That idea is enough to scare intelligent people away from Preacher Mike. Those who like Mike on one hand say he won't inflict his views on the rest of us and then say that they want him to lead the country to God. Can't have it both ways!

    Those with aids will be locked up, women will graciously submit to their husbands and we'll all be paying a 23% flat tax while watching over our shoulder for the rapists he's pardoned.

    December 15, 2007 05:35 am at 5:35 am |
  10. Tim, Minnesota

    I can't believe McCain is this out of touch with the heartbeat of America. We don't want "business as usual". He'll be lucky to get 5% in any of those states.
    Ron Paul is going to gain major momentum this week,just in time for the caucus and the primaries.

    December 15, 2007 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  11. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    2. The Arkansas Ethics Commission investigated Huckabee frequently during his time in state office, citing him for at least five violations. The penalties ranged from a $1,000 fine to letters of admonishment for violations that included not disclosing payments that various campaign committees made to him and his wife, using campaign money for a religious event, and failing to disclose a $200 stadium blanket his wife received as a gift. Huckabee dismisses the commission as a tool of Democratic critics, but its five members were appointed from all over the state and included two picked by him.

    December 15, 2007 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  12. Sam, Atlanta, GA

    The last thing America needs are these two jerks.

    December 15, 2007 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  13. ThirstyJon, Adelaide, South Australia - Normally USA

    A Huckabee-McCain Ticket in 2008?

    One never knows!


    December 15, 2007 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  14. Lee M, NJ

    You may or may not agree with Huckabee and McCain.

    However at least they are authentic and have some core principles, and are not polished and phony candidates like Mitt Romney and 9-11 Rudy (phony 9-11 "hero")

    The common American may not understand policy and may not think the constitution is all that important, esp when compared to the King James bible, BUT many American voters can eventually spot a PHONY, and that's what we have with Mitt and Rudy.

    December 15, 2007 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  15. Independent in IA

    Seems like Obama isn't the only one pinning his aspirations on 'hope'.

    December 15, 2007 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  16. tommy

    Ron Paul-Thompson Ticket would do better...

    December 15, 2007 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  17. Walt, Belton, TX

    As a long time conservative, I still think of Huckabee, Romney and Giuliani as Curly, Larry and Moe!

    Please give me somebody with integrity, honesty and some sort of wisdom. Obviously, that rules out Hillary, Obama and Edwards. They're cousins of Curly, Larry and Moe.....

    December 15, 2007 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  18. Gomer from Alabama

    "Look Mike,I put in my thumb and pulled out a plum,geee...we are dumb".Proof that water boarding will make you say anything.

    December 15, 2007 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  19. John, Brooklyn, NY

    The gyrations of strategies that pin their hopes on the intertwined fates of any number of candidates reminds me of the jockeying for wildcard slots at the end of the NFL season. And, as we know, very few of those wildcard teams ever make it to the Super Bowl. In the end, the vast majority of wildcard well as the Republican candidates for president in 2008, will be known as also-rans.

    December 15, 2007 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  20. Chris

    McCain? Huckabee? Mcgriddle? Hamburger. Chop up into little parts=

    Cain McHuck McBee AU riddle.`

    December 15, 2007 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  21. scott, lithonia, georgia

    Dear John, you served our country well as an aviator (you may still be able to give Bush lessons in what it takes to be a patriot), you did even better as a POW, you had a few moments of glory on the campaign trail and in the Senate;the time has come for you to sit on the porch,sip a few (but not from the bottle) and swap war stories.I am slightly older than you are and believe me I know when it is time to sleep late. You are no Ronald Regan and I would not INSULT you by suggesting that you are.

    December 15, 2007 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  22. ne,pa.


    A religious nut and a war nut!

    December 15, 2007 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  23. Steve Blaine Washington

    McCain has fooled a lot of people in Arizona.
    The old saying you cannot fool all the people all the time will come back to haunt McCain when his Senate seat comes up for renewal the next time.

    December 17, 2007 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  24. joe

    To all the rest of America:
    Don't be fooled by Mccain, Arizona won't elect him President.
    he is known here as Bush jr.

    January 3, 2008 08:21 am at 8:21 am |