'World News' Political Insights: Missteps Mark Early Phase of 2012 Primary Fight

Late-developing race suggests steep challenge for GOP vs. President Obama

ByABC News
March 6, 2011, 5:47 PM

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2010— -- In a presidential campaign that's taking its time to develop, one possible candidate found an unlikely opponent last week.

Mike Huckabee, the former and possibly future presidential candidate, suggested to a radio interviewer that new Oscar winner Natalie Portman -- a 29-year-old actress who plans on marrying the father of her unborn child -- was out to "glamorize" unwed motherhood.

"People see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts of, 'Hey look, you know, we're having children, we're not married, but we're having these children, and they're doing just fine,' " said Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas.

The comments came the same day as another head-scratcher from Huckabee, when he wrongly asserted that President Obama was raised in Kenya. He later said he misspoke.

Both sets of remarks are the kinds of mistakes top-tier presidential candidates can't afford to make.

They're emblematic of a larger problem facing Republican presidential candidates this year: Would-be 2012ers are making unforced errors in the early going of a race against an incumbent who's looking stronger as the election year approaches.

So far, the field has been more remarkable for who's not running than for who is. This time four years ago, with both parties' nominations wide open, some 17 candidates had taken formal steps to run for president; one had even declared his candidacy and dropped out.

This year, only two Republicans -- long-shot candidates Herman Cain, a former Godfather's Pizza executive, and Buddy Roemer, who was governor of Louisiana 20 years ago -- have gone so far as to organize presidential exploratory committees.