Just talked to My Romney Guy – distinct from Middle Cheese – about The Speech and the state of the race.
On Novak’s claim that some Romney strategists didn’t agree with giving The Speech now: “I think there was only one vote on this, Mitt’s. The rest was background noise. Nobody asked me what I thought about it.”
On the reaction to The Speech: “Four-fifths of the commentary about the speech will be about what wasn’t in it. I guess that makes the speech important. Also notice that he gives his speech, and we’re going to end up having a big national conversation about faith and political leadership for the next two, three, or maybe even five days.”
On Huckabee’s Rise: “During the past few months, we’ve seen everybody surge. We’ve seen Rudy surge, we’ve seen Fred surge when he came into the race, we’ve seen Romney surge in the primary states, and we’ve seen McCain surge. Now it’s Huckabee’s turn.
The good news about Huckabee’s surge for him is that his is coming closest to votes being cast. But to me, once you put your head up, and say ‘look at me,’ bad things start to happen… The question is soon going to be, ‘Does he have the infrastructure? So far, it looks like he doesn’t have the communications team and the field teams, the research folks. Once you grab tiger by the tail, can you hold on? As a candidate he’s got exceptional skills, but it takes an army of people to make this work, and he doesn’t have the army right now. His campaign is in same stage Fred Thompson’s was when he jumped in – underprepared, underequipped, trying to throw together campaign while going 1,000 mph, and just as he’s got a lot of people shooting at him. It’s not like Wayne Dumond is a new issue. It was central to his last reelection. There are probably people in Romney, Thompson and Giuliani’s campaign who are more familiar with that story [and Huckabee’s vulnerabilities on it] than the second-tier staff of his campaign is.”
On the state of the race: “All this year, we’ve been hearing in the blogosphere how momentum won’t be as much of a factor, the schedule is too different, there’s not enough time between primaries… Now Huckabee has a good debate performance, gets on the national news a few times, and suddenly he’s second nationally and leading in places like North Carolina. Surprise! This race is full of momentum – one little catalyst, people say, ‘yeah, I could be for him.’ Then there’s another catalyst, and it could send them running to another candidate. If somebody starts winning in this race, they’re likely to keep winning. Giuliani’s best hope is that different candidates win Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan and South Carolina, and then he wins Florida, and then he runs the table the week after.”