As Mike Huckabee’s book, "Do the RIght Thing" is going to be a topic of some controversy for the next few weeks, I think it’s more helpful for people to know the facts about the book rather than go on and on about excerpts. So, over the next few weeks, I’ll be blogging 1 Chapter a day. Today, I’ll take the Prologue: I Love Iowa
Caucus Night Remembrance
Huckabee opens the book with an unglamourous account of having to get a ride to the airport from a stranger due to the car they were supposed to take being blocked in.
Of course, this gave way to euphoria from Huckabee supporters when his plane touched down in Des Moines.
"Throughout the campaign, one of our great challenges was trying to manage with far fewer staff members than was reasonable or realistic. It meant that all of our mostly young and inexperienced staff had `would be called on to do the tasks of several people…
"But on this night, no one was complaining. Our courageous army of volunteers and underpaid kids were euphoric, and they had the right to be: The kids had worked their hearts out to prove that conentional politics of money and sophisticated political strategy could beaten by sticking to core convictions and finding creative ways to communicate those convictions. A bunch of unknown, ordinary people had beaten "the best in the business."
Huckabee wrote that when he actually got up to speak, "It hit me that this was not our victory, it was their victory." Every good political story begins with a victory night celebration and this was their "We Shocked the World" moment.
The controversial passages about Mitt Romney’s concession call (or lack theeof) is in this section. Reading the Prologue, it seems that the Governor really didn’t have "bloggers who followed campaign stories religiously in mind." Huckabee’s book is targeted towards those who may not have paid attention to the 2008 process on the GOP side extremely closely. He takes time to explain the players and the process.
He talks about Fred Thompson running a "feeble" campaign in Iowa, failing to spend a lot of time in the state and having poorly attended events. I know that some people will make a big deal of this, but really for those of us who followed the campaign, the worst Huckabee deserves is a "Master of the Obvious" award. But, as he’s writing to people who may not have followed the race as closely, it reads more background than anything else.
I have to confess that I got caught in the "Fred" thing because of the fact that I focused on the professed rule that if you finish in the top 3 in Iowa or the top 2 in New Hampshire, you are a legitimate contender. However, even at the time, I was a little concerned that even though Fred Thompson finished 3rd in Iowa, he did it with a smaller percentage of the votes than Alan Keyes got in the 2000 Iowa Caucuses. I think someone needs to rewrite this political rule of thumb, "To win the nomination, you have to win Iowa or New Hampshire." That meshes more with reality than the top 3 rule, because those of us who thought Fred would get enough momentum out of 13% in Iowa to win South Carolina were slightly delusional.
Huckabee stood waiting backstage as a matter of courtesy for the customer congratulations call from his opponent. The reason for this is that candidates want to avoid stepping on each other’s toes, particularly since the media will often cut from the losing candidate’s speech to the winner. Both McCain and Giuliani could find the phone, but for whatever reason, Romney could not and Huckabee finally went out at 10 PM to declare victory.
My final note is that this section serves to bat down rumors that have spread on various Talk Shows, news stories, and the Internet. Huckabee writes that there was no "nefarious collusion" between his campaign and that of John McCain. Even though, both McCain and Giuliani were pleased that Huckabee’s Iowa win had punctured Mitt Romney ‘s best Presidential victory scenario of running the board in early contests. The reaction was similar to that of a baseball team being happy that their division rivals lost and allowed them to gain a game in the standings. It’s not a conspiracy if the Toronto Blue Jays are glad the Boston Red Sox lost to the New York Yankees (or to the Arkansas Travelers if they were a major league team in the AL East.)