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Here’s how Presidential campaigns work: We put a candidate on a pedestal, strip off his clothes and let anyone who wants to beat on him with a cudgel – then we see how he reacts. Like trial by ordeal it’s brutal but whoever survives is probably tough enough to be President. The only way a candidate escapes the ordeal is to never move above 2% in the polls.

Mike Huckabee is now the candidate on the pedestal.

I guess in a perfect campaign Governor Huckabee would have had his fifteen minutes of fame just before the Iowa caucus – so he’d get the first soaring boost of momentum but voters would go to the polls before he got the cudgeling. But candidates can’t control when their moment of fame hits (instead, they’re just praying it will) so when it does – most often – it’s just blind dumb luck.

What launched Huckabee was soaring past Mitt Romney in the Iowa polls. He’s become an ‘overnight sensation’ – and now he’s getting scrutinized like never before. Romney’s attacking him, telling Iowa voters Huckabee wanted to give illegal immigrants in-state tuition as Governor. The media is grilling him about pardoning (or paroling) a dozen murderers, rapists and other criminals, taking money from tobacco companies (for speaking fees), raising taxes more than Bill Clinton and wanting to quarantine AIDS victims.

The other candidates, of course, hope Huckabee’s bubble will burst under the onslaught. If he does Fred Thompson may pick up the votes falling off Huckabee and have his fifteen minutes of fame at a more perfect time – closer to the election; or a Huckabee collapse may open the door for Romney to rebound into the lead.

So, now, for Huckabee the question is can he survive three weeks of pummeling and win Iowa – or did his ‘moment of fame’ come too soon?

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