Tomorrow’s debate will likely be a brawl with the Rudy-Romney face off on crime, taxes and healthcare as well as the Judge Tuttman story still brewing not to mention the Muslims in the cabinet story. This may be a three-ring circus but it could be critical for the Iowa and NH contests which finally are within sight.
Marc Ambinder does a fine recap of the issues plaguing Romney in Iowa to which I would add just a couple of items: 1) Thompson’s failure to catch fire there and elsewhere left a good chunk of down to earth, regular-guy and gal conservatives ripe for the picking. Huckabee was rising at the right time and I think caught a number of these voters on the rebound. 2) There is an element of class and geography at work here– Romney is the millionaire from Massachusetts and Huckabee is the neighbor from Arkansas. In that regard the Club for Growth crusade against Huckabee, regardless of the merit of the Club’s arguments and their impact nationally, may do little to harm and indeed may help Huckabee as he plays the local underdog under attack from Wall Street. (It would be nice if elections were fought on the merits of conservative policies but let’s get real.) Huckabee makes a funny analogy here to explain it himself.
Romney will likely be in everyone’s line of fire (who doesn’t benefit from having him lose in Iowa?) so how well he withstands the onslaught may help voters decide just how tough he is. More importantly, we’ll see if he learned anything in the empathy department.
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