Monday, April 02, 2007

On a Shoestring

WSJ Washington Wire: Huckabee's Very Spartan Operation
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who’s running for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, established a low bar for rivals to clear in disclosing his initial campaign contribution totals. At a breakfast with reporters in Washington, hours before the midnight deadline for the end of the first quarter of 2007, Mr. Huckabee said he had met his goal of raising $500,000 for the quarter and would report having roughly $300,000 in cash on hand. That’s a fraction of what some other candidates in both parties will have raised; fellow Republican Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, raised more than $6-million at his first fund-raising event in January this year.

Mr. Huckabee said his collections so far are enough to finance a shoestring campaign with a dozen staffers that is focused intensively on the early 2008 contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. “We’re running a very spartan operation,” Mr Huckabee said. He acknowledged that upcoming Republican presidential debates beginning in May and this summer’s Iowa “straw poll” would be critical in determining his viability in the race, but expressed satisfaction with the response he’s getting from campaign audiences thus far. “I’m coming away from events with people signing on the dotted line” to offer support, the former governor explained.

“If we get to the point where we can’t buy the plane ticket to Des Moines,” he added, “I’d say, ‘Pull the plug and put this thing to bed.’ ” Among Democrats, former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack has already taken that step because of financial straits.

.........A Baptist minister, Mr. Huckabee expressed impatience with the political choices so far of some religious conservatives. In the March Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, Mr. Giuliani led among Republicans with 38%; even among evangelical voters, the twice-divorced former New York City mayor, a supporter of abortion rights, received 37% to 2% for Mr. Huckabee.

“If Republicans in this election vote in such a way as to say a candidate’s personal life and personal conduct in office doesn’t matter,” he declared, “then a lot of Christian evangelical leaders owe Bill Clinton a public apology.”

I appreciate that he is not nearly as bound to corporate cash as the frontrunners, but you have to wonder if lying back and waiting for everyone ahead of you to stumble is a good strategy. Huckabee seems to be in some ways similar to Edwards, good at retail face to face politics, not so good at Wholesale national media politics. Being good at retail will get you a long way, but I don't think it'll get you to the White House. Another thought is he's really running for 2012 but needs to make an appearance this time just to build the foundation for that cycle.

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