WASHINGTON â€” Much of the national leadership of the Christian conservative movement has turned a cold shoulder to the Republican presidential campaign of Mike Huckabee, wary of his populist approach to economic issues and his criticism of the Bush administrationâ€™s foreign policy. But that has only fired up Brett and Alex Harris.The Harris brothers, 19-year-old evangelical authors and speakers who grew up steeped in the conservative Christian movement, are the creators of Huckâ€™s Army, an online network that has connected 12,000 Huckabee campaign volunteers, including several hundred in Michigan, which votes Tuesday, and South Carolina, which votes Saturday.
They say they like Mr. Huckabee for the same reason many of their elders do not: â€œHe reaches outside the normal Republican box,â€ Brett Harris said in an interview from his home near Portland, Ore.
The brothers fell for Mr. Huckabee last August when they saw him draw applause on â€œThe Daily Show With Jon Stewartâ€ for explaining that he believed in a Christian obligation to care for prenatal â€œlifeâ€ and also education, health care, jobs and other aspects of â€œlife.â€ â€œIt is a new kind of evangelical conservative position,â€ Brett Harris said. Alex Harris added, â€œAnd we are not going to have to be embarrassed about him.â€
Mr. Huckabee, who was a Southern Baptist minister before serving as governor of Arkansas, is the only candidate in the presidential race who identifies himself as an evangelical. But instead of uniting conservative Christians, his candidacy is threatening to drive a wedge into the movement, potentially dividing its best-known national leaders from part of their base and upending assumptions that have held the right wing together for the last 30 years.