ABC News' Teddy Davis and Kevin Chupka Report: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the Republican who sits atop the polls in Iowa, launched his first ad beyond the Hawkeye State on Monday.
"Better America" presents Huckabee's hard-scrabble childhood as preparing him to understand the plight of economically distressed families. The ad also touts his record expanding children's health insurance, increasing jobs and raising test scores.
"Better America" is airing not only in Iowa, where Huckabee has aired two other ads, but also in New Hampshire and South Carolina. This is his first foray beyond Iowa, a state where Huckabee has recently catapulted from obscurity to the front of the pack.
A second Huckabee ad launched Monday, "Secure Borders," calls for "no amnesty," bulding a border fence, and "doing it now."
"Secure Borders" will air in Iowa, a state where anti-illegal immigration passion runs high.
Huckabee discusses his surprise over the intensity of the immigration issue in the new issue of the New Yorker.
"It does appear to be the issue out here wherever we are," said Huckabee. "Nobody's asked about Iraq - doesn't ever come up. The first question out of the box, wherever I go - Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, Texas it doesn't matter - is immigration. It's just red hot, and I don't fully understand it."
Huckabee has been criticized by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, two Republican rivals, for backing in-state tuition for the children of illegal immigrants.
To help inoculate him from this criticism, Huckabee unveiled an immigration plan last week which would require illegal immigrants to register within 120 days and to leave the country before gaining legal status in the United States. Illegal immigrants who failed to comply with the registration requirement would be deported and barred from re-entry for 10 years.
Huckabee's proposal does not indicate for how long an illegal immigrant who complies with his registration requirement would have to stay outside of the United States before he or she is allowed to return to the U.S.