Huckabee Takes Hits As Poll Numbers Rise

As his support increases in Iowa and elsewhere, Mike Huckabee is facing a growing torrent of criticism from those who want to deny him the Republican presidential nomination. Huckabee, for example, is now in the gunsights of several of his competitors:

* Mitt Romney says Huckabee was wrong to criticize President Bush's policies in Iraq

* Fred Thompson says Huckabee is really a liberal.

* Antitax conservatives are attacking him for raising taxes as governor of Arkansas.

* Home-state opponents and others say he pardoned or commuted the sentences of too many felons while he was governor.

* Even animal-rights activists have jumped into the fray, saying he did little or nothing to reduce cruelty to animals.

And reporters are not only scouring Huckabee's record in the Arkansas Statehouse but also looking into the sermons Huckabee gave as a Baptist minister to see if he made embarrassing or extreme comments. So far, the former governor is maintaining his cool. But campaign insiders say if some of the criticisms start to get traction, he will be in dangerous position because he doesn't have enough money yet to run campaign ads to counter the negative impressions.

By Kenneth T. Walsh