Roundup: saints and sinners

The second installment in the Monitor's "Before they were candidates" series takes a look at Mike Huckabee, Baptist preacher. Earlier this month we looked at Chris Dodd's time in the Peace Corps. From today's Huckabee piece, by Melanie Asmar:

Some churchgoers said they were surprised when Huckabee announced in 1992 that he was leaving the church after 12 years to run for office. He was such a great preacher, they said. But the same skills that made him memorable in the pulpit helped him succeed in politics: He could deliver a heavy moral message in such a light, folksy way that you didn't even notice the proselytizing. He remembered everyone's name. And he had a way of winning support for his good ideas by making the deacons think the ideas were their own.

Completing a trifecta of editorials on Barack Obama (see also here), the Union Leader says "Of the leading Democratic candidates for President, only Sen. Barack Obama doesn't pretend that his health-care plan is a panacea. He resists the temptation to promise the impossible -- provide universal coverage and control costs -- and for that he should be commended."

[UPDATE: The Politico found Obama in church today, "appealing to black worshippers to show the courage of their forerunners and back his candidacy for president":

“I didn’t have to go to jail. I haven’t had my head beat in — haven’t had dogs and fire hoses set on me. So I’m benefiting from what the Moses generation did. . . . The question is whether the Joshuas among us are willing to stand up, are willing to be counted, are willing to vote, are willing to organize, are willing to mobilize, are willing to get going.”]

Fred Thompson accuses Fox News of having it in for his campaign. (Wasn't it Hannity&Colmes that gave Fred face time to mock the candidates who were already debating in New Hampshire?) [UPDATE: Fred also announced a tax plan, which the Club for Growth calls the "most comprehensive tax reform plan offered to date by a presidential candidate." And Team Fred wants you to watch today's video here.]

Rudy Giuliani is the cover boy for Newsweek. An excerpt:

Just as Churchill's character was shaped by the myths of his forebears in his ancestral home, Blenheim Palace, seat of the Duke of Marlborough, Giuliani's was forged by the moral ambiguities of his upbringing and the eternal American melodrama of rising above one's past while honoring, or at least accepting, it. Giuliani was born into an immigrant enclave—mostly Italian-American, some Jewish—in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, a neighborhood of looming dark churches and rows of modest brick and brownstone houses, far from the Manhattan skyline. Four of Giuliani's uncles were, indeed, policemen, as were four of his cousins. But another uncle was Leo D'Avanzo, a loan shark and a bookie with mob connections, who operated out of a bar named after another uncle—Vincent D'Avanzo, a policeman who acted as a frontman for the bar. Rudy's cousin, Leo's son Lewis (a.k.a. "Steve the Blond"), was a ruthless hood who later did time for armed hijacking and selling stolen cars. The proximity of good and bad, even in Giuliani's own family, seems to have given rise to his inflexible public code but more relaxed personal one—a bifurcation that will only become more important in the next 10 weeks or so, as generally conservative Republican primary voters decide whether to trust this unconventional figure with their nomination.