Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Is Huckabee Clinton or Carter?

His campaign chairman wanted to knock out Mitt Romney's teeth, but Mike Huckabee decided to turn the other cheek.

Internal struggles are common in the heat of campaigns, but this week's press-conference melodrama in Iowa suggests that Huckabee is (1) a man of principle who turned away from stooping to attack ads at the last minute or (2) ambivalent and indecisive or (3) devious in the extreme, having it both ways by publicizing the ads and renouncing them at the same time.

Like the first national politician from Hope, Arkansas, Huckabee elicits meaning-of-is ambiguity as voters attempt to parse the man beyond the slick surface of his good-boy image as opposed to Clinton's bad-boy charm.

If what you see is what you get, Iowa and New Hampshire voters will have to decide if Huckabee is the antidote to what they may have disliked in Bill Clinton or another Jimmy Carter, who promised never to lie to them but couldn't handle the complexities of the real world.

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