National Review White House correspondent Byron York pens an insightful piece on the contrast between the strategies of Team Huckabee and Team Romney in Iowa.
The campaign’s strategy was shaped by two things, Saltsman said. First was Huckabee’s talent as a communicator, and second was the fact that the campaign was always nearly broke. Put those two together, and you had a campaign constantly searching for free media exposure. “We’ve been criticized sometimes for — after a big event, we went straight to Washington to do media, or we went straight to New York to do media,” Saltsman said. “That was because a lot of those shows wouldn’t have us on unless we did that.”
So Huckabee went from show to show, and he came up with other attention-getting moves like devoting his first commercial to the now-famous “Chuck Norris” ad. “Any other campaign, that ad never gets shown,” Saltsman told me, “because you have a conference room full of consultants saying you can’t do it.” At the moment Saltsman was saying that in Des Moines, Huckabee himself was in California, sitting down to talk on The Tonight Show — perhaps the ultimate in free media. A number of commentators thought that was a blunder; Saltsman checked the number of Iowa homes tuned into the show on any given evening and thought it was a pretty good idea.
That disconnect between the conventional wisdom and Huckabee’s strategy worked time and again in the campaign’s favor.
Read the whole thing.