On the day before the Iowa caucuses, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said a victory for his underfunded, out-organized campaign would have "a seismic impact on the political Richter scale," and he compared the intense challenge he faces from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with the American Revolutionary War, with multimillionaire Romney cast as the British Red Coats.
"Tomorrow night's going to be an important night for the process of presidential politics, unlike anything I've ever seen before," he told a crowd of 150 voters in Fort Dodge Wednesday morning. "I've been outspent 20 to one in this state. That's a pretty big hill to climb. If there ever was the definition of an underdog, look in the dictionary. There's a picture of me."
Huckabee said that, like him, the Continental Army also faced skeptics. "At the beginning of this country there were some farmers with muskets. Nobody thought they could beat the British. After all, the British were so well-financed. And they had the nice long rifles. …They had a magnificent Navy. Our guys had a few rowboats."
In a seeming comparison with the handsome, well-coiffed Romney, Huckabee referred to the British Army's "nice uniforms, all those nice shiny red coats with beautiful brass buttons."
A Huckabee victory would be quintessentially American, he suggested. America's Founding Fathers "had this amazingly radical idea about politics in government — all of us are equal. People are not going to be more equal because of their ancestry," Huckabee said. "People are not going to be more equal because of their last name or their net worth."
Huckabee, born into humble origins in Hope, Ark., and a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University, said he could run for president "because our Founding Fathers had this idea that we were all equal, didn't mean that we started out with the same net income, didn't mean that we started out with a last name that opened doors, and people said, 'Oh, yes, I knew your father at Harvard at Yale or Princeton.' People knew my father from the shipyard, not Harvard.'"
Romney, whose father ran American Motors and served as governor of Michigan, earned a joint JD-MBA from Harvard Law and Harvard Business schools.
Huckabee's lead in the polls here seems to have eroded since the waves of negative TV ads run by Romney, whose millions have funded the best Iowa organization of any Republican presidential candidate. The Baptist minister has enjoyed strong support from his fellow evangelicals, but may have also hurt his campaign with some misstatements about foreign policy made after the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Most recently, Huckabee aroused skepticism with a bizarre press conference on the last day of 2007 when he showed the media an attack ad against Romney he said he wasn't going to air on television because, days after he began calling Romney "dishonest," he now wanted to run a positive campaign.
"We had a tough decision this week," the former preacher tried to explain to the Fort Dodge crowd. "Were we gonna try to fire back and do the same thing to others as they had done to us? Or were we going to do unto others as we wish they had done unto us?"