The new Iowa numbers put the pressure on Romney, but the finding about striking voters as presidential is the key to all of the early contests.
UPDATE: On top of George Will’s body slam, the Los Angeles Times publishes a devastating –for someone running as a conservative– look at Mike Huckabee’s governing record. Some key graphs from “Huckabee: ‘A Different Kind Of Jesus Juice.'”:
In 2005, a Republican state senator named Jim Holt introduced a bill to deny public benefits to Arkansas’ soaring population of illegal immigrants. Holt, a Southern Baptist minister, figured it was a rock-solid conservative idea — a matter, he said, “of right and wrong.”
Arkansas’ governor at the time was also a professed conservative, and also a Southern Baptist minister. But Mike Huckabee had only scorn for his fellow Republican’s proposal.
Huckabee called the bill “race-baiting” and “demagoguery,” and argued that the denial of health services could harm innocent children. The bill, Huckabee said, did not conform with his take on Christian values.
“I drink a different kind of Jesus juice,” Huckabee said.
Initiatives like the children’s health plan tapped a deep vein of populism, helping Huckabee win two gubernatorial elections. But his record on taxes and immigration alienated some Arkansas Republicans, who are watching with trepidation as Huckabee’s prospects soar in the GOP primary race for president.
Holt, the former state senator, has a warning for conservatives around the country who think they have found their candidate.
“I think if they knew [his record] it would totally de-energize them,” he said. ” . . . His policies are just wrong.”
As Huckabee’s stock rises in the Republican primaries, conservatives are looking closely at his record on taxes. The Club for Growth, a conservative anti-tax group, has been running ads against Huckabee, harshly criticizing his record and portraying him as “Tax-Hike Mike.”‘
Huckabee has responded by calling the group the “Club for Greed.” He says that in addition to supporting tax increases as governor, he also called for a $90.6-million cut in income taxes — and other smaller, more narrowly targeted tax cuts. He defends his record as that of a pragmatic governor trying to meet the needs of a poor, underdeveloped state.
As he was preparing to leave office, local media reported that bridal registries had been established at two stores for the governor and his wife, even though they had been married for more than 30 years. State ethics laws prohibited Huckabee from receiving gifts of more than $100 as a reward for doing his job. But there was an exception for wedding presents. The Huckabees had registered for nearly $7,000 in housewares as they prepared to move to a private residence.
Arkansas Times Executive Editor Max Brantley — a longtime nemesis of Huckabee’s — said Huckabee’s ethics violations and other gaffes probably stemmed from his preacher’s background, in which “love offerings,” or gifts to the pastor, were encouraged.