Yesterday, I reported that the gloves finally came off between Romney and Rudy. Wll, today, the WaPost reports that Mike Huckabee is going after Mitt Romney:
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee warned Thursday that nominating Mitt Romney would leave the party vulnerable to Democratic charges of flip-flopping that could endanger GOP chances of winning the White House in 2008.
"Let's assume everything is hunky dory with his views now," he said. "The problem is not so much where he is but where he was and the fact that that's a change and not just on that issue but on a number of others. What's problematic is that it does represent a dramatic shift and the obvious thing that a Democrat[ic] opponent will do to him is to say he shifted once, will he shift again?"
Obvously, the Iowa Straw Poll has a lot to do with the timing of this one. But what do these attacks on Rudy and Romney -- the frontrunners who are actually in the race -- mean in the grand scheme of things?
Count me among the pundits who have been surprised that Rudy has maintained his lead this long, despite his social positions. But if you think of it, although the media has reported Rudy's positions (and those of us who actually watch every debate may know about them), Rudy's opponents haven't spent any real money attacking Rudy with voter contact.
This is an important distinction because, unlike the media, voter contact is targeted to registered (and likely) primary voters. So it would be incorrect to assume that either Rudy or Romney have dodged the bullet, so to speak, in terms of their past positions.
The truth is that none of these candidates has really taken a hit, yet. The real action happens when TV commercials, phone calls, and voter mail pieces start hitting. The candidates are just now starting to attack each other directly.
And aside from the fact that the campaign will change when the candidates actually start throwing punches, the Iowa Straw Poll is also likely to shake things up.
Imagine if Romney doesn't win (after all, he has to fend off Huckabee, Brownback, and Paul). Or what if he wins, but Huckabee or Brownback comes in a very close second ... Or what if Ron Paul finishes second ... The game is about to change ...