AMONG THE BIG DOGS
Former Gov. Mitt Romney appeared to be a man with a lot on his mind on Sunday's Meet the Press. He insisted he got an endorsement from the National Rifle Association that he never got, and continued to reveal "evolved" policy positions from his earlier political career that further undercut his standing with conservatives. Some inside his campaign were wondering if something had taken him off his usually polished game.
"No, I think he just understood that this was an important media appearance and tightened up a bit," says an adviser in Washington. "The stakes are getting higher for him, we've invested a ton of money in Iowa and things aren't working out for us the way we would've hoped."
No one is discussing internal numbers, but the thinking inside other campaigns is that Romney's polling in Iowa shows him continuing to slide, losing additional ground to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who according to insiders is planning retail campaign stops but will avoid potential "gotcha" TV interviews in the coming days.
"The big dogs are out to take down our guy and we won't let them," says a Huckabee adviser newly arrived in Iowa from Washington. "It's our race to lose right now, and we aren't going to do anything to slow down the momentum."
Huckabee has turned down offers to appear on Meet the Press, giving up the seat this coming week to Ron Paul. "While Mike Huckabee is doing Merry Christmas ads, we're going to give Republicans a look at a true conservative," says a Paul supporter. "Ron isn't afraid of Tim Russert, apparently neither are Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani. But Huckabee is suddenly quiet. You have to wonder."
UPDATE, Dec. 18, 2:18 p.m. According to the show's executive producer, Huckabee is confirmed to appear on the December 30 Meet the Press and has been for a week.
HARD OF HEARING
Maybe serving as an adviser to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and his flip-flopping, faulty-memory ways rubs off on you. How else to explain the odd calls that supporters of Mary Ann Glendon got announcing that the hold on her nomination for U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican had been lifted and that a confirmation hearing was set for Tuesday, December 18. One problem: as of 6 p.m. on Monday night, no hearing had been scheduled.
"It was weird. We got a call from a Glendon backer saying that a deal had been cut between Biden and Kennedy and that hearings were moving forward," says a Senate aide, who has been supporting Glendon. "Then nothing. It has some of us nervous that the White House is getting cold feet."
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