Analysis: Beebe Unwilling to Take Popularity for a Spin

LITTLE ROCK, AR - In the last days of his campaign for governor, Mike Beebe - despite a strong lead in fundraising and polling, told his supporters to "run like we're behind."

On the job 10 months, Beebe governs like he's behind, conserving political capital instead of spending it freely on divisive issues.

Bolstered by Arkansas' largest tax cut ever and a seeming end to a yearlong school funding battle, Beebe has gained overwhelming support across the state: 70 percent of respondents in the annual Arkansas Poll approve of Beebe's performance; only 9 percent disapprove.

Yet Beebe charts a safe course that gives him wiggle room among voters on issues like illegal immigration and raising the state's severance tax on natural gas.  He says his goal is to validate his approval rating rather than use the approval rating to validate his agenda.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)