Target: Lucky Huckabee
Now that Mike Huckabee is doing well in the polls and picking up support, he’s been put under the microscope and begun to garner negative attention. We have posted on the Dumond mess but that’s not all that’s out there.
Until he finished second in last summer’s Iowa straw poll, Huckabee’s also-ran status served as a sort of shield. News organizations generally limit their investigations to candidates who are high in the polls, on the theory that those back in the pack aren’t viewed as potential presidents. But if a single-digit contender moves up in the all-powerful polls, reporters parachute into their home state and start turning over rocks. And rival campaigns start unloading their ammunition.
Huckabee has long been viewed skeptically by the home-state press. Max Brantley, editor of the Arkansas Times and a frequent Huckabee critic, says he is “kind of shocked” that the press hasn’t scrutinized such Huckabee proposals as abolishing the income tax in favor of a national sales tax. “It’s been dereliction of duty, frankly,” he says. “I think reporters are desperate for a new narrative, and he’s a fresh face.”
Now, however, the warm-and-fuzzy coverage of Huckabee is taking on a harder edge. Reporters have looked at his tax hikes in Arkansas, a series of gifts to Huckabee that drew rebukes from the state ethics panel and, most notably, the early release in 1999 of a convicted rapist who later sexually assaulted and killed a woman in Missouri.
On the hot seat: The Sunday shows — especially Giuliani on Meet the Press and Huckabee on Fox News Sunday — were all about weighing the GOP baggage. The best could you say about Rudy’s Meet appearance was that he held his own against a barrage of questions. But it also raised a host of questions: How long can he keep up this idea that he won’t release the details of everything? How much will the RNC campaign against Hillary be undermined if Giuliani is the nominee? Can they hit her on releasing library records if Giuliani won’t release his client list? And can they hit her on being honest and trustworthy if he’s changing his story on when (or if) Judith got police protection? Huckabee was also defensive over his past (Dumond, AIDS). Toss in Romney and his flip-flops, and the past has become a major story in the GOP race. Whose baggage is heaviest? Who can best explain his past Who can best explain his past in an authentic and trustworthy fashion? By the way, it looks like someone found more Huckabee quotes from his past and the Drudge Report is dutifully linking to a 9-year-old article this morning. (Hmmm, which GOP campaign is close to Drudge?)