Republican candidates are engaging in a political showdown as the ascension of Huckabee from the lower tiers to the top of heap puts the race in anyone's hands, The New York Times said Monday .
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney attacked Huckabee's comments about President George Bush's foreign policy; Fred Thompson, a former senator from Tennessee, called him a liberal, while Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., scrambled about grabbing endorsements, the Times said.
Romney, the one-time front-runner, faces a challenge ahead of the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire's Jan. 8 primary as the political strategies of several other candidates readjust to account for Huckabee's rise.
McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, said, "Mike Huckabee gives us a new deck of cards to play with and anything that gives us a new deck of cards is a good thing."
Huckabee is retooling his strategy, moving from social conservatism to embrace environmental issues, foreign policy and economic populism to broaden his appeal, the Times said.
Uncertainty over Huckabee's momentum remains, as some see the campaign beyond Iowa and New Hampshire as the real test.