Who Invited Wyoming?:This weekend, three Republicans will campaign in the state that, for now, will be the first in the country to vote for the GOP nominee. No, they're not going to Iowa. They're flying out to Wyoming.
Twelve of Wyoming's 28 Republican National Convention delegates will be chosen on Jan. 5, which as of right now puts them ahead of Iowa and New Hampshire. But Wyoming doesn't hold a caucus or a primary. Instead, they're a convention state, so they elect delegates who make their affiliations known from the get-go. When you vote for the delegate you want to go to the convention, you're also voting for the candidate to whom he's pledged his support. Four months later, on May 30, they elect the remainder of the convention delegates.
This is the first time Wyoming is electing delegates this early. Originally, the plan was to vote on the same day as New Hampshire's primary, but vote-lust got the better of the state and they bumped it up to Jan. 5. (State law forbids that the election take place in 2007.) The Democrats, meanwhile, are still stuck in the middle of the pack, voting March 8.
Wyoming's under-the-radar importance has attracted only three Republicans to this weekend's presidential forums in Casper and Riverton. Fred Thompson, Sam Brownback, and Duncan Hunter will make their pitches to prospective delegates and the general public, but the rest of their colleagues are sitting this one out.
Folk the War on Terror!:Mike Huckabee cracked four jokes in a row before he even started a wide-ranging speech at a think tank in Washington today. First he made fun of himself, then his religion, then the audience, and finally made a crack about O.J. Simpson. This, by the way, was during a speech about how Huckabee was planning on stopping terrorists from killing Americans.
The press has been hyping Huckabee's sense of humor since his strong finish in the Ames Straw Poll back in August. But as his speech progressed his humor wasn't what stood out, it was his folksiness. Huckabee's proposals sounded wholesome—rather than deadly, dour, and desperate—because he kept weaving analogies into his hard-line stances.
Huckabee used more than a half dozen analogies while saying he wants to keep troops in Iraq, launch surgical strikes in Pakistan (which sounded strangely similar to a certain Democrat's plan), and beef up the number of troops in our military. Some samples: America is like a neighborhood kid who has been gloating about how easy life is for him; Islamic fundamentalism is like an explosion—the terrorist leadership is the spark, the oppressed lower class is the fuel, and the middle class is the firewall; al-Qaida in Iraq is like a branch office, while the corporate headquarters are in Pakistan.
Huckabee runs the risk of having his folksy touches imply he doesn't take terrorism and Iraq seriously. But Huckabee is purposely running a different type of Republican campaign than his opponents. He waited 40 minutes to talk about Democrats and then mentioned them only twice, casually saying they were taking the wrong approach on Iraq. When he brought up his faith in Gen. David Petraeus, he didn't touch upon MoveOn.org. He railed against the administration for not having more troops on the ground after the initial invasion of Iraq, using the same examples as the left-leaning documentary No End in Sight. Huckabee told me his tactics are working thus far, promising his best fund-raising total yet when the quarter ends on Sunday.