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Yesterday, four top fiscal leaders — among them former Republican lawmakers or presidential administration officials themselves — held a press conference in Columbia, S.C., to blast what they see as Mr. Huckabee’s record as a tax-and-spender as Arkansas governor.

The four — former Rep. Pat Toomey of the Club for Growth, Tom Schatz of Citizens Against Government Waste, Donald J. Devine of Conservative Battleline and former Rep. Dick Armey of FreedomWorks — said Mr. Huckabee stands out from the rest of the Republican field in his attacks on corporate chief executive officers and the rest of his economic message.

“The guy comes from the John Edwards wing of the Republican Party,” Mr. Toomey told The Washington Times afterwards.

The Club for Growth ran ads against Mr. Huckabee in Iowa, drawing a strong rebuke from Mr. Huckabee, who won that state’s caucuses anyway. The club also ran ads before Michigan’s primary earlier this week, and Mr. Toomey said those had some effect in holding Mr. Huckabee to his distant third-place finish.

“If you look at the actual results in Iowa, he only got 15 percent of the nonevangelical vote. In New Hampshire, he did worse, and in Michigan last night, he did worse still,” Mr. Toomey said.

Mr. Huckabee’s campaign shot back with a press conference and statement of its own arguing that the Club for Growth is funded in part by backers of presidential rival Mitt Romney, releasing a list of people who have donated to both the Club and the former governor of Massachusetts.

Best of the rest

Sen. Jon Kyl, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, yesterday offered tepid support for fellow Arizonan John McCain’s bid for president, but said none of the other candidates represents conservatives on all issues.

“I support [Mr. McCain] because he’s a friend. We have worked together for over two decades,” Mr. Kyl said during a meeting with editors and reporters at The Washington Times. “I have some sense of where he would like to go [politically], and certainly, he has made some very courageous positions that could have ended his political career.”

Mr. Kyl, who last month replaced former Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi as Senate Republican whip, added that “this is one of those elections that for a lot of us [Republicans], none of the candidates represent us 100 percent.”

He described himself as “sort of a Ronald Reagan conservative,” adding that, “I don’t think any of these [Republican] candidates quite satisfy what some of us have looked at — and I say that with respect to [Mr. McCain], because it’s clear I disagree with him on a lot of issues.”

New constituency

Democratic Sen. Barack Obama says he won’t just be a president for the American people, but the animals, too.

“What about animal rights?” a woman shouted out during the candidate’s town-hall meeting outside Las Vegas yesterday after he discussed issues that relate more to humans, such as war, health care and the economy.

Mr. Obama responded that he cares about animal rights very much, “not only because I have a 9-year-old and 6-year-old who want a dog.” He said he sponsored a bill in the Illinois state Senate to prevent horse slaughter and has been repeatedly endorsed by the Humane Society, the Associated Press reports.

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