Huckabee Riding the Bounce

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Charles Dharapak / AP

Republican Presidential hopeful and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee likes to think of his campaign as the fat bumblebee whose ability to fly has baffled generations of scientists. "The bumblebee, being unaware of these scientific facts, goes ahead and flies anyway and makes honey and pollinates the other plants," Huckabee told a group of reporters over lunch in Washington Thursday. "In many ways our campaign is somewhat like this. Conventional wisdom says that you cannot run a campaign with the amount of money that we've had up to date. You can't do it without the staff, the consultants, the budget — all those things that are considered absolutely critical. But we were unaware of those things so we continued to go on and have seen ourselves grow."

Huckabee has raised just $2.3 million in total, and had $650,000 cash on hand as of Sept. 30, but he is surging in Iowa polls. In the latest Rasmussen poll he even overtook by a couple of percentage points Iowa front-runner Mitt Romney — who by comparison has raised $62.8 million so far this cycle and had $9.2 million cash on hand as of Sept. 30.

And Romney has taken notice — sharpening his criticism of Huckabee as a liberal on taxes and immigration, as was evident during Wednesday night's Republican YouTube debate. But while Huckabee may like to compare himself to a bumblebee, one thing he says he won't do is sting his opponents. "I do think the 11th commandment is being violated in a lot of ways, but I don't think I've violated it yet and I'll try not to," Huckabee said, referring to Ronald Reagan's so-called 11th commandment: "Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican."

Huckabee knows that the attacks are only helping his candidacy, helping him stand out with undecided voters looking for a sunny alternative to all the doom and gloom coming from Romney and Rudy Giuliani. In fact, the former Arkansas governor is clearly relishing the fray, as he did in the YouTube debate. "You notice I didn't jump in the middle of it, I was more than willing to stand back and enjoy the show," said Huckabee, who then added a NASCAR analogy. "When you've got several cars on the track and to get to bumping each other, there's a good chance that one or both of them are going to run or bump each other off the track or disable their vehicles. What you want to do is to make sure you're not in the path of the wreck when it happens because your chance to get around that wreck happens when you're just close enough to the draft but not close enough to get caught up in it."

That's not to say Huckabee doesn't make his own sly digs at his rivals, particularly when he's defending his own policies. "I think there are a few people who support me who don't agree with everything I think, but at least I'm giving them a straight answer and I'm telling them what I truly believe and think, and I'm not changing my message to look to see where I'm speaking today," Huckabee said, referring to numerous accusations of flip-flopping against Romney, and to a lesser extent Giuliani.

Ultimately, Huckabee said he takes any criticism lightly. "People appreciate that I'm not running this campaign like somebody's pulling my teeth without getting my shots beforehand," Huckabee said. "You see some of the candidates and you almost feel sorry for them that they have to be there because it sure don't look like they're having much fun."