Huckabee win means no clear GOP frontrunner

January 4, 2008 2:41:24 PM PST
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is hoping to continue his momentum in New Hampshire. He beat out several candidates who spent a lot more money in Iowa. So what does Huckabee's victory mean for the Republican party?

Huckabee's win in Iowa means that the race for president is fluid, hat there is not a clear Republican front runner, and different candidates can emerge as the leader in the upcoming primaries. But in Illinois, Any Republican may have difficulty competing. The Democrats took the state in 2004, and Illinois' own Democratic candidate Barack Obama will be hard to beat if he wins that party's nomination.

"I think one of the reasons I did well in Iowa and will do well here is because people realize that they really do want a president who reminds them of the guy they work with, not the guy that laid them off," said Mike Huckabee, (R) candidate for president.

Mike Huckabee won in the Iowa caucuses with a commanding lead over his main competitors, Mitt Romney, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani.. But looking ahead to next week's primaries in New Hampshire, some of Huckabee's fellow Republicans are questioning whether there will be enough momentum to keep him at the front of the pack.

"It's hard to see how it all is going to transpire. I think you have really a four-way race right now," said Andy McKenna, Illinois Republican chairman.

For Huckabee, the challenge is to capitalize on his upset win in Iowa, where overwhelming support from evangelicals cemented a victory that had been predicted in the polls during the past month.

"The profiles of the Republican voter yesterday is not representative of what you'll see in the bigger states coming up," said State Rep. Jim Durkin, (R) Countryside.

Dr. Erwin Lutzer, with Moody Church, says that while he was impressed with Huckabee's message in Iowa, choosing a candidate depends on a lot more than a person's religious background.

"The fact that he's a born-again Christian is wonderful. But we believe that in itself doesn't qualify one to be president," said Lutzer.

Even local Republicans say the road to the White House will be bumpy when the campaign trail comes to Illinois, because the candidate would be competing against the state's favorite son, Barack Obama.

"If Barack Obama wins the nomination for the Democrats, it will be difficult for Republicans to compete here," said Durkin.

Support for Huckabee in Illinois is growing. Fifty-one delegates are registered statewide.

Huckabee will make another appearance on late night TV next week, appearing on David Letterman the night before the New Hampshire primaries. He appeared on Jay Leno the night before winning Thursday's Iowa caucuses.