— From NBC/NJ's Adam Aigner-Treworgy
HENNIKER, N.H. -- For months pundits have been saying that Obama
is the rock star of the presidential elections because of his appeal to
younger voters and the massive turnout at many of his events. But there
is only one candidate who can truly claim the mantle of a rock star for
the traditional reasons: Mike Huckabee.
After a big victory in the Iowa Cacuses Huckabee rolled into the
Granite State on his big campaign bus and showed voters here that he
can truly rock. Playing bass guitar with the well-known local band Mama
Kicks, Huckabee held a rally at New England College on Friday afternoon
and tried to claim another title that seems to be vital to winning the
presidential nomination in either party this cycle - the title of
"The people still do rule," Huckabee told a sizeable crowd of more than
300 people gathered inside the college's gymnasium. "And that's what
they do every time we have an election, they rule. They make decisions.
They make choices, and that choice this time looks like a choice for
Exit polls from Thursday's caucuses reflected the importance of change
to Iowa voters, and national polls have shown that being an agent of
change is central to winning over independents. So during a rally that
was, in many ways, a reintroduction to voters here after his victory in
the Hawkeye state, Huckabee tried his best to prove that he can provide
the change that so much of the country is hungry for.
"There's a fresh, new wind blowing in this country," Huckabee said. "It's a wind that blows for change and blows for a better America…When you go to vote you will help change the government. We're going to have a change of government in November of 2008. We don't know how it's going to change, but we're going to have a change of government.
"Let's really breathe that wind of change in this country. I believe it started in Iowa last night. I want it to continue in New Hampshire on Tuesday, and continue through the rest of this country."
Huckabee also showed Friday how he plans to be effective in New Hampshire, where there are significantly less of the Evangelical Christians that bolstered his efforts in Iowa on Thursday. The message that Huckabee is relying on to win over Granite State voters is a more populist message that details his poor upbringing and his struggle on the path to become governor of Arkansas.
"I've been listening to the television pundits who said, 'Well, Huckabee did well in Iowa, but he won't do that well in New Hampshire,' but why not?," Huckabee asked. "No, I have not lived here. I have not, perhaps, run for office here before. I have not spent gazillions of dollars trying to convince you what a wonderful person I am. All I've got to do is let my wife you I'm a wonderful person and maybe you'll believe me. I don't know.
"But here's what I will do. I pledge to you that if you give me the opportunity to be your president, I'll not just remember who you are, but I'll remember where I came from because I probably came from the same kind of place some of you did. I think one of the reasons that I did well in Iowa and probably will here is because people realize that they really do want a president who reminds them of the guy they work with, not the guy that laid them off. Quite frankly, I understand struggle."
Huckabee has used this message in the past to differentiate himself from his much wealthier opponents – most notably Mitt Romney -- and he seems inclined to rely on it more heavily in the run-up to Tuesday's big primary.