November 9, 2007, 5:45 pm
The ever subtle Romney circulates an “I was never a crook” release talking about government ethics. Seriously, he did have a fine record in that regard and he’s entitled to boast but I think it does quite make up for an otherwise troubling week. Three of his competitors had a much better go of it. Huckabee remains the new “it” kid on the block and it will only get better with this and coverage like this and this . He also picked up the endorsement of Donald Wildmon, head of American Family Association. (And James, sounds like Gerson is ready to sign on a speech writer.) A Dobson endorsement for Huckabee would no doubt be an embarrassment to Romney who, as others have pointed out, was counting his endorsement before it hatched. McCain has been rising in national polls and getting great press so his lack of funds for now seems not to be a barrier to making a run in NH and SC. (He just went up with what spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker labels the “largest Boston [media] buy to date.) Rudy of course snagged Kit Bond a week ago and Robertson earlier this week, at the very least perpetuating a split among social conservatives, and is rising in the polls( his average is up to 14% in RCP) with a strong lead among conservatives.
A large part of Romney’s overall plan was predicated on becoming the consensus candidate for social conservatives. If that is not to be he’s left trying to duel with McCain and Rudy on foreign policy and arguing his economic record is superior. (Good it is, superior to others is a stretch.)
That is a long way of saying Romney has bet the farm on Iowa. If Huck wins or comes real close in Iowa it’s a new race. For now Romney’s got substantial leads in NH and Iowa polls( but if GOP voters are like Democrats early leads may mean little) . Still, he may want to plant himself in Iowa like Huckabee. The most immediate step to bolster his position is a new immigration ad running in NH and Iowa. Team Rudy has already retorted with a “fun fact” email with quotes from mayors of some of Massachusetts’ sanctuary cities– which now number 5 — saying Romney didn’t pipe up about sanctuary cities at the time. So when all is said and done the race could turn–at least for Huckabee and Romney — on Iowa.