The prophetic words of Patrick Davis on Huckabee and faith

We marked them back on Nov. 20, and now — after Republican Mike Huckabee has inspired Iowa — will officially deem them as The Prophetic Words of Patrick Davis: “An awful lot can change in a month.”In a free-ranging interview with Colorado Confidential in mid-November, former National Republican Senatorial Committee political director Davis, a former Fred Thompson fan now based in Colorado, talked about how Mike Huckabee had won him over.

At the time, with little money, and virtually nil major media coverage beyond publicized attacks by the conservative Club for Growth and a quirky endorsement from actor Chuck Norris, Huckabee was down — way down — in the Iowa polls. By contrast, Mitt Romney and his millions were flying high — way high.

On Thursday, as the Iowa results were rolling in — with the New York Times reporting 34.4 delegate support for Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, and 25.4 percent support for former Massachusetts Gov. Romney — Davis chuckled when reminded of his mid-November prediction. 

“An awful lot can change in a month,” Davis pointed out then. Four years ago, a month before the Iowa Democratic caucus, Howard Dean was dead set on winning — and John Kerry surged and won.

Fast forward four years — in which a November poll showed Romney at 27 percent and Huckabee in second, with 18 percent. A full 15 percent of GOP voters in Iowa were still undecided — and an astounding 50 percent said that they could still change their minds.

“That benefits a candidate like Mike Huckabee far more than Romney, who has spent tens of millions of dollars in Iowa trying to solidify his base – yet 50 percent are telling Romney that he has a problem?” Davis said at the time. “It tells me there’s a lot of running room for Mike Huckabee to win these people over.”

After Huckabee’s Iowa win this week, TV broadcasts are citing the number of GOP delegates who reported being born-again Christians — 60 percent. That’s twice as many, Davis said, as identified themselves as evangelicals in Iowa four years ago.

“I think it makes people of faith take a second look at Mike Huckabee all around the country,” said Davis, himself a Catholic. “People of faith are going to have to take a second hard look at Mike Huckabee and I would think these leaders would take a hard look at him too.”

Doing so, however, may make for some awkward moments — at least for leaders of the GOP’s all-important evangelical Christian voting bloc — who have been all over the place. One reason they haven’t lined up behind Huckabee is because his record does not show him to be as conservative, particularly on taxes, as other candidates.

The National Right to Life endorsed Fred Thompson. Former GOP candidate and religious right darling Sam Brownback had gotten behind John McCain. Pat Robertson and Rudy Giuliani had an unforgettable press conference in which Robertson vowed he was on Rudy’s team (it was a toss-up which of them looked more panic-stricken). Mitt Romney, meanwhile, has gotten the backing of religious right icon Paul Weyrich and Bob Jones III of Bob Jones University.

And the kingmaker himself, James Dobson, of Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family, still hasn’t identified his favored GOP candidate.

Click here to read the first part of Colorado Confidential’s mid-November interview with GOP consultant Patrick Davis, who was NRSC political director in 2003 and 2004, just after actor Chuck Norris had endorsed Huckabee in November.

And click here for the second installment.

Cara DeGette is a senior fellow at Colorado Confidential and a columnist and contributing editor at the Colorado Springs Independent. E-mail her at cdegette@coloradoconfidential.com

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