Can you blame God-o-Meter for being a wee bit nervous about awarding its first “10″ rating yesterday, for Mike Huckabee’s new Believe TV ad in Iowa? Sure, the ad opened with the words “Christian Leader” and has Huckabee explaining that “faith doesn’t just influence me, it really defines me,” but “theocrat” is not a handle God-o-Meter throws around lightly. So it is reassured this morning to read that the ad also raised the reliably conservative Fred Barnes’s eyebrows over at The Weeky Standard:
…I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that, at least in this ad, Huckabee has made his political views secondary to his religious beliefs. Perhaps this is what Christian conservatives in Iowa want to hear. But Huckabee may be risking a backlash.
Barnes makes a nice point in that if Huckabee makes it out of Iowa, he might air the ad in South Carolina, but that he’d be wise to see how Hawkeye Staters respond first. God-o-Meter, too, is waiting to see how the ad is received, not only by caucus goers, but by the news media, which has so far been pretty fawning in it’s Huckabee coverage.
Elsewhere at The Weekly Standard, Dean Barnett raises the possibility that the new Huckabee spot is an underhanded attack at Mitt Romney:
But wait – there’s more! Huckabee says in the ad, “I don’t have to wake up everyday wondering, ‘What do I need to believe?’” This is obviously the standard flip-flop charge aimed at Romney. What takes this spot into unexplored territory is the fact that the term “Christian Leader” pops up during this seemingly shopworn attack. Was the term “Christian Leader” supposed to draw a contrast between Huckabee and another candidate, maybe the Mormon one he was referencing when the term swept onto the screen?
What’s most disturbing about this spot is it hits the Mormon angle with the same kind of elusive slickness that John Edwards used to go after Dick Cheney’s daughter. The Huckabee campaign has the same kind of plausible deniability with this ad that Edwards had after his debate with Cheney.
God-o-Meter likes that analysis. Now it must wait to see if and how Romney will respond.