Monday, December 17, 2007

TOP STORY >>Minton campaigns against Huckabee

Leader senior staff writer

It’s deer season in Arkansas, but a pair of former state lawmakers are due back today after spending the week in Iowa, stalking a RINO.

RINO stands for Republican in Name Only, and that’s what former state Rep. Randy Minton, R-Ward, calls former Gov. Mike Huckabee, whose sudden emergence as the man to beat in the Iowa Republican presidential caucus has sent shockwaves among other candidates.

Huckabee, who was a second- or third-tier afterthought only a month ago, has charmed some Republicans in a year when there seems not to be deep-seated support for any candidate, launching himself into the lead in Iowa, ahead of Mitt Romney and far ahead of Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and others.

That’s why libertarian Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul hired Minton and former state Sen. Jim Holt of Springdale and flew them to Iowa to tell voters about Huckabee’s record raising taxes and growing government.

“I’m not a Ron Paul supporter,” said Minton, who describes himself as belonging to the Republican wing of the Republican Party. “But I want Iowans to know (his record). But in war and in politics, the saying goes, ‘My enemy’s enemy is my friend.’”

Minton says he is philosophically aligned with the anti-tax Club for Growth, which has begun running political ads attacking Huckabee as “Tax Hike Mike.”

Minton says his candidate is former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson.

Minton says Huckabee is a pro-life, pro-gun liberal.

Minton said Huckabee quickly discovered that he and Holt were making mischief for him in Iowa, but Huckabee’s campaign brought its own band of Arkansas Republicans to give their view of the former governor’s record.

Those include former state Sen. Gilbert Baker, former National Transportation and Safety Board director Jim Burnett, Ann Britton, president of the state Federation of Republican Women, and former state lawmakers Doug Matayo and Doyle Webb.

Minton and Holt arrived in Iowa Tuesday night in time for a Ron Paul rally in Council Bluffs, then on to a radio interview in Sioux City.

They drove to Des Moines Thursday where they were interviewed on three radio stations—two of them with the Huckabee supporters.

“The discussions were very civil,” Minton said.

Friday they were scheduled for a radio interview in Cedar Rapids.

Minton said it was possible that Paul or some other Huckabee opponent would bring them back to Iowa or to another early primary state to help derail the Huckabee juggernaut.