Huckabee and Romney a Contrast in Styles

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This week's Iowa caucuses showcased both substantive and stylistic differences among the Republican candidates — especially between top finishers Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney.


This week's Iowa caucuses showcase both substantive and stylistic differences among the Republican candidates, especially between the two who finished first and second.

This weekend, they took the contest east to New Hampshire with NPR's Scott Horsley tagging along. He filed this Reporter's Notebook.

SCOTT HORSLEY: There are times on the campaign trail when Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney sound a lot alike - two Republican former governors, who solve problems in their own states and are now offering to do the same for the whole country.

Mr. MIKE HUCKABEE (Former Republican Governor, Arkansas; Republican Presidential Candidate): I'm not sure why we would like somebody to lead the country as president who spent his or her time recently in Washington. If they haven't fixed it by now, I think maybe it's a good indication they can't fix it.

Mr. MITT ROMNEY (Former Republican Governor, Massachusetts; Republican Presidential Candidate): It can't happen from inside Washington. I want to get it done as somebody from outside who knows to get the job done.

HORSLEY: But there are other times when the first and second place finishers from Iowa couldn't sound more different, like when Huckabee strapped on a base guitar last night to jam with the New Hampshire rock band called Mama Kicks.

Ms. LISA GUYER (Lead Singer, Mama Kicks): Let's take it down low, boys. I want to hear it from the governor on bass guitar. Come on.

HORSLEY: Having spent time with both campaigns this week, I found the men's supporters were studying contrast as well. Many of Huckabee's backers are passionate social conservatives who eagerly embrace their fellow evangelical. While Romney's backers tend to be more like their methodical candidate - constantly gathering data, only committing when they have to.

In Iowa, at least, Huckabee's passionate believers outnumbered Romney's rational deciders. Once the results were tallied, Romney wasted no time moving on to the next battleground. Aboard his chartered jet, Romney staffers welcomed the announcement that they were landing in New Hampshire.

Mr. ROMNEY: Thank you, guys. Thank you so much. The pancake was delicious. Thank you.

HORSLEY: A few hours later, Romney was busy shaking hands with the breakfast crowd in a Portsmouth restaurant. Romney's most formidable opponent is New Hampshire is expected to be Arizona Senator John McCain. Huckabee, meanwhile, just seems to be enjoying himself. And he makes no apologies for his lighthearted approach.

Mr. HUCKABEE: Sometimes, people take themselves more seriously than they take the issues that touch this country.

HORSLEY: We'll soon know whether Huckabee's upset victory in Iowa was a one-hit wonder. But he seems to be having more fun at the moment than the dogged Romney, even sticking around last night to play an encore with Mama Kicks.

(Soundbite of song "Put a Little Love in Your Heart")

Ms. GUYER: (Singing) I hope when you decide, kindness will be your guide.

MAMA KICKS (Band): (Singing) Put a little love in your heart.

Ms. GUYER: (Singing) You see it's getting late? Baby, baby, don't hesitate.

MAMA KICKS: (Singing) Put a little love in your heart.

Ms. GUYER: (Singing) In your heart…

SIMON: Mama Kicks and NPR's Scott Horsley.

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