Huckabee Is Running On Hope

He was born and raised in the small Arkansas town of Hope, served more than 10 years as governor and then launched a long-shot campaign for the presidency.

Sound familiar? Sure. But as CBS News senior political correspondent Jeff Greenfield reports, he's not Bill Clinton.

We're talking about 51-year-old Republican Mike Huckabee, who turns his ties to Clinton's home town of Hope, Ark., into a favorite punch line: "All I ask is — give us one more chance."

But as Huckabee tries to follow Clinton's path from the governor's office to the White House, he faces the same obstacle that confronts every dark horse candidate: If you don't have visibility, how do you raise money? If you don't have money, how do you become visible?

Huckabee has raised only $1.3 million this year, a tiny fraction of what the front-runners have raised. His headquarters is in modest suite of offices in Little Rock. He polls between 1 and 5 percent in national and key state surveys, and his audiences tend to the modest.

Campaign '08: Presidential Hopefuls & Campaign Cash
"At this point, I've been able to obtain as many votes as any other Republican candidate," Huckabee responds. "There haven't been any ... the only way for me to lose for sure is to leave the track."

History offers lessons to discourage and encourage a dark horse like Huckabee. Candidates like Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbit and Sens. Orrin Hatch and Richard Lugar have found that their resumes got them barely a flicker of presidential attention.

"Have you ever heard of a candidate? Ever heard of? That's a long way from the message, and that's the essential question before anyone is even in the ring and the message makes any difference," says Lugar, R-Ind.

On the other hand, long shots Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton did get their messages out effectively enough to win. In 2004, obscure Vermont ex-Gov. Howard Dean turned a powerful anti-war message into a campaign that raised more money than any other Democratic candidate.


Huckabee hopes, at the least, to gain attention with ideas not always in sync with the Republican base.

"Republicans ought to be leading the way to be better stewards on the environment, and we're not. Republicans ought to be leading the way and speaking out against the kind of corporate greed that has resulted in the loss of millions of jobs in this country," he says.

Huckabee's message and campaign face their first key hurdle at the Iowa Republican straw poll later this month. A "better than expected" showing — whatever that turns out to be — keeps him in the race. Without it, that hurdle likely becomes the end of the road.

  • Michelle Singer

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