Today Soren Dayton notes that Mike Huckabee outdrew Mitt Romney in Nashua, NH today, attracting more than 600 people, and finds that his base is deeper than just evangelicals. Meanwhile, the new CNN/WMUR poll that Jennifer pointed to had Huckabee creeping ahead of Rudy Giuliani for third place at 14 percent (Rudy is at 11, Paul is at 10).
Now, if McCain or Romney wins New Hampshire, the Rudy campaign can say that McCain won here in 2000, and Romney spent a fortune here. As embarassing and problematic as it would be to lose to Ron Paul, they could theoretically argue that he also spent a lot here, and has a libertarian base to draw on. But if Giuliani loses in New Hampshire to a big government social conservative without national security bona fides, who started the race as an unkown, and who devoted less money and resources to winning in the state, how can the campaign spin that?
I caught up with Giuliani campaign manager Mike DuHaime in the spin room following last night’s debate and asked him about the possibility of Giuliani losing to Paul and/or Huckabee.
“Obviously, there is a bit of a bounce that Gov. Huckabee is getting right now, and he deserves one, because of his win in Iowa,” DuHaime said. “Ron Paul spent a lot of money here and has his own base of support here, so I don’t discredit any of the other candidates. I think we have a field of strong candidates.”
But if DuHaime is acknowledging that Huckabee got a bounce out of Iowa, doesn’t that poke a hole in the late state strategy? If candidates do get momentum by winning early states, then how can Giulaini’s lead hold up in Florida at the end of the month?
DuHaime continued, “I think at the end of the day, what you’re going to see is Mayor Giuliani is going to win the most delegates, and it’s not about winning one individual state. It’s about winning enough states, with enough delegates, to win the nomination.”
However, Giuliani’s late-state strategy was based on the assumption that he would at least be competitive in the early states. Finishing in sixth and fifth place in Iowa and New Hampshire, behind Huckabee and Paul in both states, was not part of the plan.
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