Salena Zito

Huckabee predicts he will survive Iowa and surprise in New Hampshire, where the state's Republican chairman, Fergus Cullen, reports that Huckabee "is doing solid. While he is still in the ‘getting to know you’ stage, he has proven to be the best communicator of all of the candidates and has earned some impressive local endorsements.”

According to the average of voter polls in Iowa posted at, Huckabee still trails Romney by 12.5 points, 26.3 percent to 13.8 percent. But he is virtually neck-and-neck with second-place Fred Thompson (15 percent).

In New Hampshire, the most recent Rasmussen poll shows Huckabee a distant fourth -- at 10 percent compared to leader Romney's 28 percent -- but improving.

But Huckabee appears to be cashing in on that "Huckappeal." With donations and hits to his Web site that, he says, “everyday surpasses the day before,” he is like the tortoise racing the hare -- going slow, steady and uphill, attempting to defy the conventional wisdom.

Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.