Huckabee’s Money Woes Curtail CampaignSubmitted by treber on Wed, 01/23/2008 - 06:18
A chronic lack of campaign money may finally be catching up to Mike Huckabee.
After a disappointing loss to Senator John McCain in the South Carolina primary — in a state his campaign considered among the most favorable in the country for his evangelical-populist message- Mr. Huckabee has cancelled press buses or charter flights to conserve his cash. (News organizations reimburse the campaigns, but the arrangements can tie up cash and may not cover all costs if too few journalists ride.)
He has also scaled back his campaign appearances in Florida, the next Republican primary battleground and another state that his campaign once considered critical. And it will not buy any commercials there.
Mr. Huckabee told reporters Monday night that he intended to concentrate his limited resources on potentially overlooked Southern states holding primaries on Feb. 5, when about 20 states across the country go to the polls.
“I don’t want to abandon Florida yet,” Mr. Huckabee told reporters Monday on a late-night flight from Orlando to Atlanta, according to the Associated Press. “We have not come to the conclusion that Florida is out of play.”
As for the Feb. 5 contests, Mr. Huckabee said. “We don’t have enough people to try to field staff in all of these states.” He added, “So what we’ll do is put a leaner team together.”
Mr. Huckabee raised only about $2.3 million in the first three quarters of last year, less than 5 percent of what his three remaining competitors raised. He never had enough money to send advance teams to plan events or drum up crowds, nor could he afford polls, big-name political consultants, or a staff of policy advisers.
He won the Iowa Republican caucuses by relying on his quick wit, oratory and as many talk-show appearances as he could schedule. He traveled with the actor Chuck Norris and played the bass guitar with local rock bands to help attract crowds.
His Iowa victory drew more attention and several millions of dollars in new contributions, his advisers said, but he spent relatively heavily in South Carolina and his loss there has extinguished his Iowa momentum.
His pullback from Florida and the biggest Feb. 5 states is likely to remove him from serious contention for the nomination, although Mr. Huckabee said he did not believe he was out of it yet.
Still, on the flight Monday night, he acknowledged that he was contemplating how to plan for his defeat. “If the campaign doesn’t make it all the way we want to walk away completely in the black,” Mr. Huckabee said.