A Simply Delightful Article from Our Friends in the UK about Mike Huckabee

Republicans start to swing behind Mike Huckabee's Capitol offensive
Tom Baldwin in Washington for the Timesonline (United Kingdom)

Mike Huckabee, armed with little more than a bass guitar and the kind of Christian conservative authenticity that his rivals cannot buy, is elbowing his way into the 2008 Republican presidential contest.

Written off in the summer as a no-hope prospect, he has made up so much ground that what was once a four-way race between Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson and John McCain now has a fifth hard-running – if dark – horse in the field.

According to recent polls this former Arkansas Governor, who likes to fire up evening campaign events with his rock band, Capitol Offense, is tied for second place behind Mr Romney in Iowa, which kicks off the nominating on January 3. He is also showing signs of life in other key early states such as New Hampshire and South Carolina. Although most national surveys still show him trailing the likes of Mr Giuliani by a wide margin, one poll this week suggested that his support had leapt to 13 per cent – the same as that for Mr McCain and 1 per cent more than Mr Romney.

Over lunch in Washington yesterday Mr Huckabee, 51, spoke of his amazement over a “phenomenal couple of weeks” that began when he so out-shone his rivals before an audience of Evangelicals that a straw poll among those present backed him by five to one. Since then, fuelled by celebrity endorsements, he has received a desperately needed injection of cash.

The campaign was expecting yesterday to reach $1 million (£500,000) raised online this month, still not much compared with the $53.6 million spent so far by Mr Romney, but the equivalent of winning the lottery for Mr Huckabee, who had spent only $1.7 million on his presidential bid before September 30. “I now get to stay in hotels where I’m not the only guest wearing sleeves. And I get towels as part of the rate for the room, rather than having to pay extra,” he told The Times with typical, and apparently genuine, good humour.