[…] Unlike in junior high, it’s often a good sign in presidential politics when people say nasty things about you. It means you are threatening. It means others fear you. It means you might just win something.
So, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the dark horse in the Republican race, has not been sweating the recent barrage of attacks against him. In recent weeks, Mitt Romney has accused Huckabee of supporting tuition assistance for the children of illegal immigrants. (Gasp!) Fred Thompson called him “one of the highest taxing governors” in the nation. (Zing!) A Wall Street Journal editorialist called Huckabee a waffling conservative. (Ka-pow!) Conservative doyenne Phyllis Schlafly blamed him for wrecking the Republican Party in Arkansas. (Wham-o!) One Thompson supporter really went for the jugular, evoking the specter of Bubba: “I certainly cannot support another individual from Hope, Arkansas,” announced retired Brig. Gen. James Livingston before a Thompson event on Tuesday in Columbia, S.C.
Why all the sudden attention? With a scant staff and no television advertisements, Huckabee, a former Baptist pastor, has moved into second place in the Iowa caucus polls, and he is inching up on big spender Romney in the still highly speculative national polls. He has earned consistent praise for his performance in debates, and regularly overperforms in straw poll contests. “He is coming on like gangbusters,” says David Woodard, a South Carolina political scientist and Republican political consultant. […]