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2012 Watch: More on Huckabee

Reports of the former governor's political demise may have been greatly exaggerated.

6:01 PM, Feb 2, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
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Readers made some great points in response to my post yesterday on the race for the 2012 GOP nomination. One correspondent pointed out that I neglected to mention John Kasich, the former Republican congressman and Fox News personality who is running for governor of Ohio. A Kasich victory would launch him once more into the Republican stratosphere--but it would be hard to begin a presidential campaign after less than a year in office!

Another reader pointed out an interesting detail contained in the likely candidates' FEC reports. Here's a slightly edited excerpt: 

Fact Nobody Noticed: Huckabee's PAC led in donors. He had more than 16,000 for 2009; Palin was second with 14,000. That means he had more people donating to his PAC than anybody else, just with less money -- underscoring that his support is truly with the masses. (Pawlenty had about 2,700 donors and Romney doesn't say.)

Bottom line: Neither polls nor PACS give us any real clues (especially since these funds are about 5 percent of what anyone will need to fund a presidential campaign). Strong fundraising comes hand in hand with winning primaries.

Parting Wisdom:  What we should look for these early days by way of clues are favorables across the board (which is the precursor to electability) and strong grassroots / activist support. Right now, Mike Huckabee has both of them.

All these points are dead-on. (I sent an inquiry to Romney's Free and Strong America PAC about their number of donors; they haven't responded.)

What's striking is that Huckabee's political career was declared finished just recently, when it was discovered that he had commuted the sentence of cop-killer Maurice Clemmons. No question, Clemmons likely will feature in an anti-Huckabee attack ad in early January 2012. But I've heard from many Huck supporters who are willing to overlook the governor's record of commutations and pardons. Huckabee is with the Republican grass-roots. He's a great debater. He came from nowhere to win Iowa in 2008. Why shouldn't we expect him to surprise us again?

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