Ask around and many of the 'experts' will tell you that while Governor Mike Huckabee stands a pretty fair chance of taking the republican nod from Iowa tomorrow, that he probably doesn't have the support he needs to be a major player in some of the less evangelical states. While he has come on strong in the conservative stronghold of the Midwest, widespread is the suggestion that the northeast belongs to Romney and a Guliani 'firewall' Florida run will collectively shut down the efforts of the former minister. Even what many are calling a gaff this week in which Huckabee revealed the negative ad he 'was pulling' seems to play into the overall feeling that he may not have the legs for the full campaign.
But I see another trend, if you can call it that. Maybe just a single choice, that speaks volumes as to the tenacity and the will of Gov. Huckabee as a serious contender to watch for in this primary season. On of the newest acquisitions for the Huckabee team is none other than Ed Rollins. Rollins as many will recall was one of the principle architects behind the Reagan 49 state victory in 84'. Author of the book 'Bare Knuckles and Back Rooms' he is as unabashedly competitive as a political heavy can get. Rollins likens politics not to friendly idealistic debate but to bare knuckle boxing, and winner take all bloodsport.
Rollins co-managed Ross Perot's campaign in 92' and while that may cast a shadow of doubt on him, keep in mind that Perot looked like he was riding a rocket ship to the white house till the day after Rollins quit. Then he dropped out of the race and everybody discovered what made Rollins leave, Perot was a whack-job.
The addition of Rollins is a contrast to Huckabee's personal style of playing fair, playing nice, and letting the voters determine who to trust. It is certainly a sign of two very important things in a political campaign; the determination necessary to win, and the self confidence of a candidate that believes he can be the Alpha in any group of people. Unless you are prone to immeasurably huge blunders you don't bring in a rabid dog unless you know you can hold onto the leash. But you also don't bring him in if you intend to hold onto the leash all the time.
Look for bold, strong, unexpected shots from this campaign in the coming months. Competitors in this race can count on leaving blood on the canvas. Huckabee's meditative sense of self and turn-the-other-cheek attitude may keep the campaign from tilting too far to the negative, but that doesn't mean he's going to remain a soft target. Rollins is the kind of guy you hire when you don't just want to knock guys down, you them killed and their bodies eaten.