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Mike Huckabee

Primed Minister

Huckabee's down-home preacher charm is only one reason he's now a contender

December 30, 2007|Maeve Reston

As Mike Huckabee has rocketed in Iowa polls to the head of the Republican pack, a spotlight has been put on the former Southern Baptist preacher's religious faith and how it may influence his politics. But on the trail, especially in New Hampshire, the candidate is less preacher, more "everyman," who rails against overpaid CEOs and the "ruling class" in Washington. If Huckabee makes it to that big desk at the White House, he promises on the campaign trail, he won't forget the workers who keep America running.

While he has parried well in debates with his sense of humor, Huckabee is more freewheeling on the stump. He warms up the crowds with anecdotes from his humble upbringing in Hope, Ark. He often mentions that he's one generation away from "dirt floors and outdoor toilets" and that his dad worked two jobs -- a fireman by day who rebuilt car generators in his free time.

Relying on a comparatively meager campaign organization, Huckabee often is more approachable than other contenders. While the handlers of hopefuls such as Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney whisk the candidates away from reporters, Huckabee will lean in to introduce himself on his way out the door. At a recent press session, he told reporters that he hoped to build a relationship of trust. "I've often said the people who take themselves too seriously probably don't need to be elected to anything," he said.

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-- Maeve Reston

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