Washington Prowler

Why Mitt?

Tancredo could have endorsed Thompson. Also: Meet Huckabee's finances.

By 12.21.07

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BAY WATCH
Rep. Tom Tancredo yesterday afternoon endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney after one of Tancredo's senior advisers, Bay Buchanan, pressed him to make the endorsement.

Buchanan is a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As well, rumors were swirling in the media pool covering the press conference that Romney had made a personal commitment to assist Tancredo should he choose to run for office again in the near future.

Romney has flip-flopped on the immigration issue, the one issue that Tancredo drove during his long-shot presidential bid, and a number of advisers to Tancredo on the immigration issue had been pressing him over the past three days to endorse former Sen. Fred Thompson, whose illegal immigration policies are more in line with Tancredo's.

In fact several months ago, according to an influential anti-immigration-reform adviser to Tancredo, as well as other conservatives, Tancredo was prepared to endorse Thompson if he came out in support of Tancredo's specific anti-illegal-immigration policy proposals. But Thompson was not yet in the presidential race, and Tancredo instead decided to push forward with his own campaign.

"We're all scratching our heads a little on this one," says the immigration adviser. "It isn't the one we would have had him made, but Bay is extremely influential with him and clearly her advice carried more sway than our opinion did."

A member of Tancredo's campaign says that while Buchanan's opinion might have had greater influence than others, Tancredo's main criterion was electability. "Romney has made the better showing thus far, and Tom wants to have a influence in the Republican Party beyond Iowa," says the adviser. "Romney was just the smarter pick."

SELF-EMPLOYED
One line of questioning former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is sure to get next week on Meet the Press (despite reports otherwise, Huckabee had not confirmed his appearance as early as a week ago): how he makes a living.

According to his financial disclosure documents for 2007, Huckabee's income appears to come from a small pension and his wife's salary -- as well as speaking honoraria placed solely through "12 Stops, Inc.," a company set up to handle funds he made from book sales, and for which he is a named corporate officer. A Huckabee campaign aide said that Huckabee's speeches were placed by a speaker's bureau and the honorarium was paid for by Huckabee's company. "Essentially, he paid himself to speak," says the aide, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press.

This isn't the first time Huckabee has paid himself. As Arkansas lieutenant governor Huckabee was embarrassed when it was revealed that he supplemented his state income through payments he made to himself via the nonprofit he had set up, Action America.

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