Matt Towery

In short, the man can no longer be dismissed or marginalized as a wannabe. Witness what happened near him after the debate in the media "spin room." That's where the media gathers to drift among printed signs that indicate where to find each candidate's professional advocates -- their spinners.

Even before we got word of the startling results of the InsiderAdvantage/Florida Chamber poll that showed Huckabee was king of the ball, almost the entire media corps had pitched camp beneath the Huckabee sign. They'd sensed what Republican voters were saying in the poll.

Enter the other "fat man." Just as our camera crew and I approached Huckabee, a really big man began shoving his way through the press of people toward the former governor. After pushing me, he then body-slammed a Huckabee aide. A clearly startled Huckabee was hurried further away, and a security guard whisked the threatening man out.

Huckabee used to be quite "horizontally challenged" himself. Had the violent man reached him, Huckabee might have wished he'd retained some of his former girth as a way to protect himself. As it was, his debate performance was an impressive enough showing of prowess.

The Romney and Thompson camps are reeling from Huckabee's debate triumph. Thompson finally stood tall with a presidential performance of his own, but not enough to propel his campaign to the forefront.

Romney appeared to waver and vacillate on issue after issue.

And it was no red-letter night for Giuliani. Just hours before the debate, his camp had to deal with an emerging potential scandal.

Now the question lingers: Will the rest of the Republican field be able to muscle aside the former "fat man" Huckabee, or will he catapult into the revered status of "frontrunner" just as the primary elections arrive?

Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a pollster, attorney, businessman and former elected official. He served as campaign strategist for Congressional, Senate, and gubernatorial campaigns. His latest book is Newsvesting: Use News and Opinion to Grow Your Personal Wealth. Follow him on Twitter @MattTowery