Politics

Three Reasons Rick Santorum Isn’t Mike Huckabee

We talked to Huckabee 2008 campaign manager Chip Saltsman, who’s skeptical of whether Santorum can replicate his former boss’s late surge. He has two reasons to doubt; we have a third.

1. Huckabee had a clean shot. Santorum is part of a crowded field.

“When you talk about the last 30 days before the election, it really was Mitt Romney vs. Mike Huckabee. Now you’ve got seven active campaigns competing for probably the same amount of votes,” Saltsman says.

2. Even Huckabee was readier than Santorum for the long haul.

His late surge came fast, and his campaign never fully mastered its momentum. But Huckabee had the fundamentals of a presidential campaign outside Iowa, Saltsman said — and, unlike Santorum, made it onto the ballot in places like Virginia.

“We made the ballot in every state – we had our eye on the other states as well,” said Saltsman. “We ran an Iowa-centric campaign, but we didn’t run a one-state campaign.”

Santorum has shown few signs of looking beyond Iowa, and the basics of running for president — sending mail, building staff and volunteers — are hard to do on the fly.

3. The Religion Thing

AP

Saltsman didn’t say this, but we can: Huckabee is not just an Evangelical Protestant, but a Baptist preacher, and he was the perfect cultural fit for the conservative Christians of Western Iowa. Santorum shares many of their views.

But he’s also a Catholic politician from Pennsylvania, a less natural cultural fit here in Iowa.

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