Enthusiasm for Huckabee may be as much a lack of enthusiasm for the other GOP candidates as it is fondness for Huckabee, a number of political observers are speculating, including Stuart Rothenberg. He is at least consistent in his statements, unlike Romney; does not resort to fear mongering, unlike Giuliani; has an engaging, energetic campaign style, unlike Thompson; and appeals to supposedly core Republican values, unlike McCain – or so go the arguments.
Certainly, he appears to have timed his entry into the race well, with his rise in the polls (currently leading in Iowa, along with Obama) making him seem like an up-and-coming underdog. In comparison, Thompson has yet to recover the interest and enthusiasm about his candidacy he had prior to officially entering the race, though some commentators say he could.
Time suggests the problem for the GOP party is a little broader than just the individual candidates, with the relatively lackluster race among the Republicans reflecting a lack of intellectual energy within the party as a whole. Perhaps repeated references to Reagan, as if he presided over some sort of golden era in American history, are part of the problem. Certainly, Giuliani appears to have gone too far with his latest NH ad, with this type of messaging. Core GOP primary voters tend to be conservative, and Huckabee may be finding success by reaching out to them through language and ideas that, unlike that of his rivals, don't make lazy comparisons with a bygone era and its most prominent politician.
Elsewhere on the trail:
Clinton apologizes for NH co-chair's Obama cocaine reference.
Actor Tim Robbins endorses Edwards…
…while National Review endorses Romney.
Judging candidates' merits by their body language.