Through reporter Tim Carney in Iowa, Robert Novak reports the following (direct quotes from longer report):
Republicans: Huckabee’s lead in the polls hardly assures a victory, and this race could change dramatically in the next three weeks.
- The “X factor” in this race is former Sen. Fred Thompson (Tenn.). Most Iowa Republicans did not even mention his name in discussing candidates they supported or opposed. He simply does not register in the minds of potential GOP caucus-goers, but when asked about him, voters have little negative to say.
- Thompson has far more upside potential than any other Republican, and he is spending the entire final stretch in the Hawkeye State. Thompson has perhaps the most broadly conservative record of any candidate besides the three congressmen (see below). Many conservative Iowans currently settling for Romney, Giuliani or Huckabee (or planning a protest vote of sorts for one of the congressmen) could certainly jump on board with Thompson. If he defies his reputation as a lazy worker, he could make a spectacular surge here.