Iowa Focus Group Gives Huckabee High Marks

Susan Jones | Senior Editor | Monday, August 06, 2007

Iowa Focus Group Gives Huckabee High Marks

(CNSNews.com) - The presidential campaign of Mike Huckabee is hailing his "post-debate momentum," following the latest gathering of Republican candidates in Des Moines, Iowa, on Sunday. The debate was televised on ABC.

A focus group of 29 Iowa Republican voters, convened by pollster Frank Luntz, gave Huckabee high marks for his "honest" and clear answers to the questions. The former Arkansas governor didn't sound like a Washington insider, one of the focus group members said.

Appearing on Fox News Monday morning, Luntz said Huckabee may "break out" at the Iowa Straw Poll in Ames this coming Saturday.

The Huckabee campaign, meanwhile, is asking its volunteers to "redouble your efforts to get even more Iowans to the straw poll in Ames to vote for Mike Huckabee."

Chip Saltsman, Huckabee's national campaign manager, said he's had several national reporters tell him that Huckabee is on the verge of emerging as a top-tier candidate. "With your help, a big day in Ames will vault this campaign into the top tier," Saltsman told Huckabee's Iowa volunteers.

The latest ABC News-Washington Post poll shows Huckabee tied for third place (with Sen. John McCain) in Iowa, among the declared Republican candidates. The poll, conducted July 26-31 among likely caucus-goers, showed Huckabee and McCain with 8 percent support each.

Former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, who has advertised heavily in Iowa, led the Republican pack with 26 percent support, followed by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani with 14 percent. (Former Sen. Fred Thompson, who is not yet an official candidate, had 13 percent support.)

According to his campaign, Huckabee plans to campaign extensively around Iowa through the Aug. 11 straw poll.

"It was a big day for us, no doubt about it," Huckabee said about Sunday's debate in an interview with Fox News on Monday. "Other candidates are on their way down, and we're on our way up."

Another note: The Republican focus group assembled in Iowa by Frank Luntz chose Rudy Giuliani as the Republican who would be most likely to defeat the Democratic nominee. (Most of the focus group expects the Democratic nominee to be Hillary Clinton, Luntz said.)

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