With national polls showing him (Mike Huckabee) surging to the front of the GOP race, the candidate who promotes himself in television ads as a "Christian leader" is undergoing a political baptism by fire.
His better-funded, better-known rival, Mitt Romney, this week began airing campaign ads in Iowa attacking Mr. Huckabee's political record. He's facing scrutiny over his past attitudes toward gays and common-law couples. And, on Wednesday, Mr. Huckabee faced accusations he had deliberately disparaged rival Romney's Mormon religion.
"I'm going to be a lot more careful about everything I say, because I find that it gets amplified to a new level," Mr. Huckabee quipped during a Republican all-candidates debate in Des Moines.
Indeed. In just the last week, the media entourage following Mr. Huckabee has tripled amid his transformation from dark horse candidate to legitimate Republican contender.
The new interest comes on the heels of an ABC News-Washington Post survey this week which found support for GOP frontrunner Rudy Giuliani had slipped to 25% support nationally, with Mr. Huckabee jumping into second place with 19%. Mr. Romney sits third at 17%.