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In a sign that his campaign is now getting more serious, Mike Huckabee announced today that Ed Rollins will now become his national campaign chairman.
Huckabee made the announcement in New Hampshire today (roll tape#1o.q.”and movement”)
Ed Rollins has worked on a number of Republican campaigns over the years, including a short stint with Katherine Harris during her unsuccessful Senate run last year.
Rollins biggest claim to fame is his work managing Ronald Reagan’s crushing victory over Walter Mondale in 1984; but he is perhaps best known for an embarrassing gaffe in 1993, while working for New Jersey Gov. Christine Whitman.
Rollins told Time magazine that he secretly paid black ministers and democratic campaign workers to suppress voter turnout. Those comments proved to be controversial, which ultimately led him to say that his comments were "an exaggeration that turned out to be inaccurate."
Meanwhile, in a poll released today by Rasmussen Reports, Huckabee is now ahead in Florida with 27 percent of the vote, to Mitt Romney's 23 percent, and Rudy Guiliani is in third with 19 percent.
That’s the first survey taken the campaign began that does not show the former New York City mayor in first place, and there is some debate about the accuracy of the Rasmussen poll.
Nevertheless, the Huckabee upswing is real, across the country as well as in Florida. Certainly Rudy Guiliani takes him seriously. Guiliani will speak tomorrow morning at the Tampa Convention Center, in what campaign officials call a "major" speech.
Guiliani has been running his primary strategy based on making Florida his breakout state, as he has not campaigned that intently in the early states of Iowa or New Hampshire.
Daryl Paulson, a professor of political science at USF-St Pete, says Rudy Guiliani is still the man to beat.
Not every Republican likes Mike. Conservative columnist Rich Lowry blasted Huckabee today in a piece in the National Review, calling any plan to nominate him as the GOP candidate, “Huckacide.”
John McCain will also be in Florida this weekend. He’ll appear in Fort Myers on Sunday.