In addition to seeing Mike Huckabee suddenly surge in the polls, the nation is also witnessing some of the smartest campaign strategies any candidate has displayed in a long time. The former Arkansas governor has shown he can play the game with the best of them, and better than most.
Let's start with the Huckabee Christmas commercial, obviously aimed at evangelical Christians who constitute more than 40 percent of Iowa voters. Huckabee not only preached a sermon to that choir of Iowa voters, he spoke in front of what appeared to be a cross that appeared prominently in the background above his shoulder.
It's important to keep in mind that this TV ad did not occur in isolation -- it was an obvious response to Mitt Romney's brilliant speech on his faith given the week before -- a speech that won almost-universal praise. If the Rev. Mike Huckabee wanted to be seen as the Christian candidate, it required a response.
That's what the latest Huckabee Iowa TV ad was -- a 28-second answer to Romney's speech. That ad, one of the most brilliantly conceived and executed commercials ever seen, attracted worldwide attention. And no matter how many denials he and his supporters offer, that was a cross in the background and it was no accident it was highly visible. Remember that nothing happens by accident in politics. When it comes to such campaign gimmicks as TV commercials, everything is planned, down to the last detail.
That is not in the background because it is a bookcase -- it was there because part of it forms a cross, plain and simple -- the rest of the bookcase simply fades from view. And you have only 28 seconds to discern the fact that the cross that looms so prominently is merely part of a larger object.
It was a subliminal message, just as it was a subtle way of telling voters, "I'm the Christian, Romney is the Mormon."
While it may have been part of a bookcase shelf or, as some say, a window, it was there because Huckabee and his advisors wanted it there to remind voters in Iowa that the candidate is a real Christian candidate running for the Republican nomination -- one who is not afraid to display his Christianity boldly in this secular age which scoffs at all religious beliefs.
There's no doubt in my mind that Ed Rollins, his top campaign advisor, planned that ad. Ed Rollins is a political genius when it comes to those kinds of issues and he proved that when he worked so effectively to put my father in the White House.
Mike Huckabee won't admit it, but that ad was carefully crafted, it was effective, and it was his answer to Mitt Romney's speech,