A reader writes:
My initial reaction to that ad was probably similar to yours: yes, we know Mike, you are a Christian. The Christian candidate. The conservative candidate who is an authentic Christian. In other words it got my hackles up.
My second reaction, though, is that this could be quite effective. People in that part of the country, especially Republicans from there, are probably not too worried about this. Coming from neighboring South Dakota, I know that a liberal view of religious neutrality (in the classical sense) doesn't seem to be the analytical framework through which people view this. The problem isn't that most people don't agree with our separation of church and state (I think they basically do--at least a lot of them), but I don't think that this thought will be triggered by the ad. I think they will see it more like, hey, he's wishing me a Merry Christmas, and isn't that what's really important this time of year? Moreover, after being inundated for months with political ads, it gently mocks all of the other ads. This might prove effective. It uses that anti-politician sentiment that has built up (as well as frustration and unhappiness with the Republican Party generally among Republicans) to distance Huckabee from all of that and put him on the right side of things. Pretty smart ad buy, I'd say.