WASHINGTON (CNN) — A veteran Republican strategist considered by many the architect of Ronald Reagan’s 1984 landslide election victory is set to take the helm of Mike Huckabee’s surging presidential bid, CNN has learned.
Ed Rollins — the longtime GOP strategist who worked in the Reagan White House, ran former Sen. Jack Kemp’s 1988 White House run, and played a key role in Ross Perot’s 1992 presidential bid — will be formally named Huckabee’s national campaign chairman later Friday at an event in New Hampshire.
Rollins told CNN’s John King that over the last several months he has become “more and more impressed by the day” with Huckabee.
“I had given up the profession and felt this was probably my last campaign and I wanted to help,” Rollins said. “Mike is someone with great communications skills and a very approachable message and that is why you see his support growing not just in Iowa but across the country.”
Asked if he thought Huckabee — who currently holds leads in key early voting states in several recent polls — has the chance to win the nomination over more well-known and better funded candidates, Rollins said “the skill factor is certainly there.”
“There is a great outpouring of support by people who have seen him, and more and more by people who see him from afar and are impressed,” he said.
“The struggle now is to take it beyond Iowa and go nationally, and what you have is a growing candidacy, and I think I can help.”
Rollins also said his job will include building a broader campaign structure and recruiting more seasoned advisors with experience in running a national presidential campaign.
Rollins is currently a regular contributor to CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight.
– CNN’s John King and Dana Bash