Huckabee Didn't Know About NIE <em>Yesterday</em>?

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Dec 05, 2007 9:30 AM

That's a day after its release, and at least several hours after a rare Bush news conference on the subject.
Kuhn: I don’t know to what extent you have been briefed or been able to take a look at the NIE report that came out yesterday ...
 
Huckabee: I’m sorry?

Kuhn: The NIE report, the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran. Have you been briefed or been able to take a look at it —

Huckabee: No.

Kuhn: Have you heard of the finding?

Huckabee: No.
I know the Huckabee campaign doesn't have that much cash, but use some of that new front-runner influx  to get the man a Blackberry. That's a big blow to any candidate's credibility on national security.

Huck's finding out quickly that, even for a skilled politician, it's much more brutal at the top of the game than playing the charming second-tier candidate. He's described as "bristling" at an evolution question yesterday:

Huckabee — who raised his hand at a debate last May when asked which candidates disbelieved the theory of evolution — asked this time why there is such a fascination with his beliefs.

"I believe God created the heavens and the Earth," he said at a news conference with Iowa pastors who murmured, "Amen."

"I wasn't there when he did it, so how he did it, I don't know," Huckabee said.

But he expressed frustration that he is asked about it so often, arguing with the questioner that it ultimately doesn't matter what his personal views are.

Probably a fair bristle, but the tone of press coverage has certainly changed.

Over at Hot Air, Bryan's asking of the newly anointed sorta-front-runner, why he flip-flopped on Gitmo so quickly.

Fred Thompson is hitting him hard on foreign policy, too:
“When confronted with a serious question about his lack of foreign policy experience, Mike Huckabee makes a joke. The security of Americans and our allies is no laughing matter. What Americans are looking for in their next president is a commander in chief, not a Court Jester,” added Bob Haus, Executive Director of Iowa Friends of Fred Thompson.
Ouch. I don't imagine the hits are gonna be getting any lighter from that precint in light of this:
I spoke to Rasmussen about Huckabee's rapid rise yesterday, and our chat can be found here. Key quote: "Had anybody else resonated with GOP primary voters, this would have been impossible. What Mike Huckabee is doing is validating the dream of Thompson’s supporters -  that there was a vacuum or void in the race, but Thompson didn’t grab it for whatever reason."
Of course, Huck says he's having fun, and the surge in support is showing in his Iowa offices:
His campaign headquarters in downtown Des Moines is expanding into another office in the same building. The new space is three times bigger to accommodate the surging crew of volunteers.
Huck was boasting the added endorsement of Tim LaHaye yesterday, author of the Christian novel series, "Left Behind."

But he wouldn't say whether he thought Mormonism was a "cult," when asked by reporters:
Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, a one-time Southern Baptist preacher who's seen his standing in Iowa surge with Christian evangelicals' support, wouldn't say Tuesday whether he thought Mormonism — rival Mitt Romney's religion — was a cult.

"I'm just not going to go off into evaluating other people's doctrines and faiths. I think that is absolutely not a role for a president," the former Arkansas governor said during a week in which religion has become an important issue in the Republican presidential race, particularly in Iowa.

It's a stereotypical "gotcha" question from the press corps, but it seems like a smooth talker like Huckabee should be able to offer a more compassionate answer than that. Instead of ducking entirely, he could have chided the reporter for using inflammatory language, and offered that while his and Romney's religions don't agree on every tenet, there are plenty of great Americans practicing both and that's what this country's all about, yadda, yadda. But he didn't. If I didn't know better, I might suspect he's trying to benefit from some of that anti-Mormon prejudice we've been hearing about.

To his credit, he's asked a pro-Huckabee group doing robo-calls on his behalf to stop, but Romney's taking his shot on that issue nonetheless.

Welcome to the top, Mike.

Update:
Fred on a Thompson/Huckabee ticket. Heh. Fred can be great on his feet sometimes. I wish we saw more of it in debates, where he's often amusing, but not enough to overcome an apparent lack of spirit.