Mike Huckabee discussed a new southern state strategy Tuesday, one that would forgo the winner-take-all state of Florida and instead focus on Super Tuesday Feb. 5’s Southern and Midwestern states where more religious conservatives live and are likely to support Huckabee.
But the former Arkansas governor and winner of the Iowa Republican presidential caucuses said he’s not giving up on Florida altogether.
“Right now our plan is to play ball in Florida. We think we can play here. Obviously, every single day is a new day in the campaign, especially when its as fluid as it is,” he told reporters flying with him. “We just have to look at dynamics every day because it’s a winner-take-all state. We want to do well here, but somebody gets it all. I mean there are more delegates in Georgia than in Florida.”
Huckabee said that he is still competitive in Florida, a state where he polled well even when he didn’t have any operation there — no staff, no field workers, no television or radio ads.
But as Huckabee seeks to stay competitive, his campaign is recalibrating and scaling back, including dropping its traveling press corps, which means no longer coordinating and scheduling planes and buses for media covering the candidate. The media organizations pay for the seats, food and travel but campaigns can lose money if media outlets decide to pull back on coverage.
“Were cutting are expenses as much as possible,” Huckabee said, noting 50 empty seats on the plane where he was speaking. “We’ll put a leaner team together and save every bit as much money as we can.”
The campaign is also paring down staff to stretch the dollars out as much as possible. Huckabee Campaign Manager Chip Saltsman, told FOX News that Charmaine Yoest, a senior adviser, has left the campaign completely.
“Most people are staying on,” but a few have departed, campaign chairman Ed Rollins said in an Associated Press interview. “A number of people, including myself,” have agreed to forgo their pay in order to spend as much as possible on television ads in vital states, Rollins said.
However, Saltsman said “plenty of money” is coming in, including $100,000 in new funds raised Tuesday in in Georgia. He said the campaign has more than enough to make it through the Feb. 5 states, and has always been run frugally.Saltsman said Yoest was a great staffer but as a mother of five, she felt the campaign could not afford her, and they came to a mutual, amicable agreement around her departure.
One Huckabee rivals, Rudy Giuliani, has also acknowledged that senior campaign workers are forgoing their January paychecks in hopes of saving money for use other than salaries.
FOX News’ Serafin Gomez contributed to this report.