About 250 enthusiastic supporters chanted “We like Mike” Thursday morning as Republican long-shot presidential candidate Mike Huckabee brought his campaign to Houston.
“Your vote on March 4 is not going to be wasted if it’s a vote for me,” Huckabee told the cheering crowd. “If we win Texas, everything changes.”
The former Arkansas governor spoke at a campaign rally at the Renaissance Hotel in Greenway Plaza.
Political pundits nationwide are saying John McCain has the GOP nomination wrapped up, but Huckabee is telling Texans they might be able to turn the tide in favor of his conservative candidacy, in which he has stumped for building a Mexican border wall to keep out illegal immigrants and replacing the income tax with a national sales tax.
“Here’s a man who’s not willing to compromise,” said Houstonian Rachel Williams, a coordinator for a major chain pharmacy store. “He’s got guts in today’s political society, where he stands up and says ‘Nope, this is the way it should be, regardless of what the regular politicians say.’ That’s what I love about him.”
Timothy Ruggiero traveled from Decatur to see Huckabee.
“He’s honest, and I think he can be the best representative of people of faith and good Christian family values,” said Ruggiero, 43, a loss prevention manager for a major bookstore chain.
Huckabee’s willingness to carry on his campaign when many say it already is lost is a big draw, Ruggiero said.
“This is a good testimony to him that he sticks with it when times are tough,” Ruggiero said.
The rally crowd ran the age gamut.
Eric Newman, 21, of Pasadena said Huckabee’s conservative views drew him to the event.
“Such as his position on abortion, gay marriage,” Newman said of the former Baptist minister, who is opposed to both.
Huckabee said he may carry on his campaign even if he loses Texas.
Texans’ “willingness to vote for me, to vote for the strong, conservative principles that I think are bedrock to Texas Republicans, will send a very clear message that this is a party that will not move away from the reasons that many people became Republicans,” Huckabee said.
Huckabee trails McCain in delegate count by 957 to 256, with McCain needing 1,191 needed to win the nomination at the national convention this summer.
“He doesn’t have them yet,” Huckabee told the cheering crowd.
Although he is battling McCain for the nomination, he said he considers the Arizona senator an honorable man and believes McCain’s denial of suggestions that he may have engaged in a romantic relationship with a female telecommunications lobbyist.
Huckabee said he plans to spend today raising funds and meeting with supporters in Houston, then move on to other parts of the state in the next couple of weeks.