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Oh-eight (R): Rudy hearts Huckabee?

GIULIANI: The former mayor was campaigning in the February 5 state of Georgia over the weekend. Reports NBC/NJ's Matthew Berger from Marietta, GA: Giuliani said the latest surge by Huckabee would not affect his campaign. "You've asked me this at various times about Sen. McCain, you've asked me this about Gov. Romney and Fred Thompson, now Mike Huckabee, and me," Giuliani said. "I'm not concerned about the other candidates. I'm concerned about my campaign, getting my message out, getting my positive message out."

Giuliani said Huckabee was right in exonerating him for recent questions about payment of his security detail as mayor. But he dismissed the suggestion that people voting for Huckabee were in essence supporting Giuliani by voting against Romney. "A vote for Gov. Huckabee is a vote for Gov. Huckabee. A vote for Giuliani is a vote for Giuliani, and you can go on and on and on and on."

By the way, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) campaigned with Giuliani Sunday and expressed strong support for the former New York City mayor, but did not officially endorse him.

Giuliani has an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal on "fiscal discipline.

The Giuliani expenses story lives on, as the New York tabs find more ex-officials to comment. The New York Post: "Tryst fund 'sickens' ex-official." "'The cover-up of this and the explanations for it have been so disingenuous,' said Brendan Sexton, who chaired the Procurement Policy Board in 2000. The panel was charged $29,757 for travel bills racked up by then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani's security detail as he hung out with then-girlfriend Judith Nathan on Long Island. 'He didn't want anybody to know what he was doing. That's the truth.'" Sexton is a Democrat who served as sanitation commissioner under Ed Koch." 

HUCKABEE: The New York Times looks at the hurdles Huckabee could face in order to hold his new lead in Iowa. "While Mr. Romney has built up an extensive field operation, run methodically from his campaign headquarters outside Des Moines, Mr. Huckabee's approach is more ad-hoc as he has sought to take advantage of religious and church networks to press his message. 'Romney has a turn-out machine: no one is going to dispute that,' said Chuck Laudner, the executive director of the Iowa Republican Party. 'What Huckabee has to rely on is that faith community, which is a ready-made machine: churches, home schoolers. Huckabee is getting in volunteers what Romney has to pay for. But there's just no telling what it means until the results come in."

Does this show Huckabee is not the businessman's Republican? George Will, who has lauded Giuliani, tears into Huckabee.

What is the fallout for the Club for Growth that they have failed -- so far -- from keeping Huckabee from taking off? Won't this hurt the Club's reputation as a major player in the GOP?

The Los Angeles Times has a getting-to-know-Huckabee's Arkansas record story.

The Washington Post's Cillizza profiles man who may be more responsible for Huckabee's rise than any other: a physician from Montgomery, Ala., named Randy Brinson. "Brinson is the keeper of a massive e-mail list of much-coveted Christian voters that Huckabee is using to reach and organize people in early-voting states such as Iowa. Brinson's list numbers about 71 million contacts, with 25 million identified as belonging to '25 and 45 years old, upwardly mobile, right-of-center, conservative households,' he said."

MCCAIN: Here's the Union Leader's endorsement of McCain: "Simply put, McCain can be trusted to make informed decisions based on the best interests of his country, come hell or high water."

Longtime readers of David Broder will not be surprised by this declaration: "If the Republican Party really wanted to hold on to the White House in 2009, it's pretty clear what it would do. It would grit its teeth, swallow its doubts and nominate a ticket of John McCain for president and Mike Huckabee for vice president -- and president-in-waiting."

PAUL: He's polling at 7% in a new Iowa poll, a 3-point bump from October, and the Des Moines Register's Yepsen wrote on Saturday: "Paul could challenge Rudy Giuliani for a third-place finish -- if he spends more time in Iowa and some of that wad of money he's raised on the Internet. He needs to show his zealous supporters just how to attend a GOP caucus."

Unlike Huckabee, Paul is still only getting "gee whiz"/oddball type coverage. The Los Angeles Times checked in with a local group of Pasadena Paul supporters. "Given the cacophonous voices gathered under the Paul tent, at least a little dissension should hardly be surprising. At the recent gathering in La Cañada Flintridge, Paul activists described voting in the past for candidates ranging from President Bush and Democratic Sen. John F. Kerry, to Ralph Nader, Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot."

ROMNEY: The Los Angeles Times notes how both Romney and Clinton are changing tactics after their poll slides in Iowa. "Romney announced that he would deliver a speech Thursday on religion, a subject that he has been reluctant to touch despite growing signs that voters are leery of putting a Mormon in the White House. As recently as last week, Romney's eldest son, Tagg, said in an interview that he was beseeching his father to give such a speech but had yet to persuade him.

More: "Romney's Mormonism 'is definitely a factor in the race,' said one Huckabee aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the aide is not authorized to talk publicly. 'To a lot of people, [Mormonism] is a strange religion that they don't understand.'" 

This is not a good sign. Romney chief social conservative surrogate, James Bopp, is making the case that a vote for Huckabee is a vote for Giuliani. "Bopp's rhetoric was aimed not just at Giuliani but also at former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee who has made up considerable ground on Romney in recent week here in the Hawkeye State. 'I love Mike Huckabee," Bopp said, quickly adding: 'Something I know for sure [is] he does not have the resources to compete.' Boiled down, Bopp's argument is simple: You might like Huckabee best but he can't win. So, vote for the guy -- Romney -- you like second best."

Of course, this is how John Kerry eventually overtook Dean. You may love Dean, but you'll like Kerry.