When the railbirds close the book on the 2008 Republican nomination fight, someone will have to figure out whether or not Mike Huckabee’s photo-op campaign made any sense. Here he is, as talented a political orator as America has seen in a decade, and he spends much of his day creating fun pictures for the local news in Iowa and New Hampshire.
In just over a week, we have been treated to bird hunter Huckabee (posing with shotgun and dead pheasant), barbershop Huckabee (with a straight razor shave), football fan Huckabee (watching a game with his dogs), and marathon runner Huckabee (running in a parka the color of Iowa corn). After landing at around 4 a.m. in New Hampshire Friday morning, Huckabee caught a few hours sleep so he pose as rock star Huckabee in Henniker, rocking out on bass with a local band called “Mama Kicks.” That picture landed on the precious front page of the state’s biggest newspaper, the Union Leader, on Saturday, next to Barack Obama, in a much more conventional handshake shot.
Then this morning, in Londonderry, Huckabee came out in a red sweater as bright as a clown’s nose to lift up bright blue soccer balls, which he said he was giving to the children of Iraq. “Wouldn’t it be great if this soccer ball could replace a bomb?” he asked the crowd, who had gathered at a local middle school to raise money for local charities. And so was born soccer ball Huckabee. But that was not enough. At the end of the event, Huckabee unfurled and held up a big banner that read, “Thank you for your service. Welcome home Steve Costa and Chuck Mitchell,” in honor of a couple recently returned veterans. Yet again, the camera shutters snapped: Troop booster Huckabee.
Meanwhile, the photo editors across the nation are stuck with mostly prop-less shots of the other major candidates, at diners, town halls, walking through snow, shaking voters hands. But then the other candidates still have a lot more money than Huckabee. Their images can be complimented with television ads. Huckabee, on the other hand, needs free media to do the work for him. And so we await the next iteration: Bumper car Huckabee? Kite flying Huckabee? Huckabee playing steel drums? Only time will tell.
ALSO: Greetings Swampland readers. This is my first post on this blog, though not my first blog post. As John McCain likes to say, I encourage your comments, questions and insults. It’s going to be a long, strange campaign, and I am glad to have you along for the ride.