ONE OF THESE COULD HURT HUCK; THE OTHER WON'T STICK
Yes, I think the Mormon talk will hurt Huckabee -- even among some of his current supporters:
Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, asks in an upcoming article, "'Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?"
The article, to be published in Sunday's New York Times Magazine, says Huckabee asked the question after saying he believes Mormonism is a religion but doesn't know much about it....
(He agrees it's a religion. Well, that's big of him.)
Republicans like anger. Republicans like classifying themselves as good people and others as embodiments of pure evil. But Republicans don't truly embrace anyone whose anger and tendency to demonize is too blatant.
That's why Tom Tancredo is in the low single digits in the polls. That's why Alan Keyes and Pat Buchanan and Pat Robertson never won the GOP nomination for president (or, in the case of Keyes, any other election).
And the people in the Republican base care, oddly enough, about what we evil coastal sophisticates think, mostly because they think that we have the game rigged (yeah, that's really working beautifully for us, isn't it?) and that they can't get anywhere unless "our" "liberal" media deems their candidate electable. So I suspect it will really matter to them that this is in The New York Times Magazine (though many of them would never admit that).
So, yeah, this hurts. Oh, and by the way, I think this means that if Huck doesn't get the nomination and Giuliani does, you can forget about a Rudy-Huck ticket, despite recent talk about their conviviality -- this quote makes Huckabee radioactive in the general election.
But the other new Huckabee rumor -- that he had gastric bypass surgery while claiming he dieted his way to a huge weight loss -- isn't going to hurt him at all.
The rumor has surfaced on Plutarch's Weblog, which was started expressly for the purpose of spreading this story and, so far, consists of just the post about weight loss. The rumor has been picked up by Dan Riehl's Riehl World View and Oliver Willis.
How will it be received? Well, we live in an Oprah culture, at least as regards self-improvement, and even right-wing Christians are part of it. (Note, for instance, that the diet book What Would Jesus Eat? did well enough to inspire a sequel, The What Would Jesus Eat Cookbook, and note that Christianbook.com has many videos with titles such as Sweating in the Spirit and Praise Workout.) I think the response to this would be, well, whatever he had to do to save his life, good for him -- and who can blame him if he didn't want to talk about something so personal? (Yes, that completely avoids the question of whether Huckabee lied about how he lost weight, particularly in his diet book, but I really think the response to this will be emotional, not logical.) I'm guessing that no one will ever be able to disprove Huckabee's diet story or prove that he had surgery, so this will slide.
As for Plutarch, our blogger, he says he's "a regular poster at FreeRepublic," which is true. What's he up to? Well, I thought he might be a Romney shill -- here he responds to a poll showing a gender gap in the Iowa GOP:
This is interesting, the men like Huckabee, the ladies Romney.
Its funny, neither the men nor the women like Huckabee at FR, save for androgynous campaign shills.
The GOP needs a candidate strong with women to win in 2008.
But elsewhere he says this in response to news that Duncan Hunter was at 2% in a particular poll:
Hey, that is pretty good for Hunter. That it were Hunter with 22% instead of Huckster, we'd all be a lot happier.
I could be wrong, but I think he's just an ordinary guy who loathes Huckabee.