Enthusiastic crowd cheers Huckabee in Houston

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.

kevin.moran@chron.com

Huckabee tells crowd he’ll boost GOP principles

By DAVE UMHOEFER
dumhoefer@journalsentinel.com

Waukesha – Mike Huckabee implored Wisconsin supporters Wednesday to defy the pundits and his Republican opponent and boost his longshot bid, which he vowed to carry all the way to the national convention.

But the former Arkansas governor, at a rally in Waukesha, also said the election was about upholding the core principles of the party, not just winning.

“It seems like someone forgot to tell you this race isn’t over,” Huckabee told several hundred supporters packed into the Country Springs Hotel. “I’m awfully glad to tell you your vote still matters.”

Huckabee, the former broadcaster and Baptist preacher, pumped up the crowd with his trademark wit, quotes from Scripture, tough stance on illegal immigration and an anti-abortion message that he said GOP front-runner John McCain could not match.

He never named the Arizona senator, instead referring only to “three U.S. senators” from a Washington culture that has turned its back on the country on a host of issues.

He hawked his sweeping tax plan, calling for energy independence within a decade and beefing up the military.

His most emphatic comments were reserved for the abortion issue, and they drew the night’s biggest ovation.

“Our value comes because God created us,” Huckabee said. “We value every single human life,” from the unborn to the elderly in nursing homes.

Of the remaining major-party candidates, only he still backs a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution.

Unless the value of all life is recognized, Huckabee said, “I don’t think we can enjoy the blessings of God.”

Huckabee will be in Wisconsin all day today and into Friday.

Impressing the voters

Scott Judson, a Waukesha man and former Libertarian candidate for state office, showed up at the rally hunting for a conservative he could support. His wife, Candy, said she was similarly undecided.

Economic and foreign policy issues are most important to him, Scott Judson said. But it looks like a weak GOP field, he said before the speech.

After Huckabee’s speech, Scott Judson said he was impressed and declared himself a Huckabee backer.

“He said all the right words tonight,” Judson said.

Judson said he disliked McCain’s opposition to tax cuts that President Bush initiated.

“I’m glad he’s staying in the race to the end,” said Dave Vrba, a Waukesha resident at the rally with his wife, Tammy, and their two young kids. “It gives people like me a voice.”

Vrba said Huckabee’s much-documented weight loss was inspirational, as was his intelligent, open style and sense of humor.

Tammy Vrba, who usually votes Democratic but is backing Huckabee, said she had heard far more specific plans from the former governor than from Illinois Sen. Barack Obama on the Democratic side.

John Sperandeo, a painting contractor, drove from Kenosha to see Huckabee. “I love this guy. I believe a president should be a man of God. He openly declares it, as you should.”

Sperandeo said he thought Huckabee would continue Bush’s war on terror and hang tough in Iraq. Asked about McCain, he said: “He hasn’t shown he’s a man of God.”

Huckabee plans stops in four Wisconsin cities today. His itinerary includes a morning rally in Madison, afternoon events in La Crosse and the Wausau area, and an evening visit to Green Bay.

Huckabee said he had visited Green Bay’s Lambeau Field while campaigning for the national ticket in 2004. While on a tour, he sang the national anthem at the 50-yard line with two other governors, in a darkened stadium near midnight.

He called Lambeau a shrine.

On Friday, he is scheduled to eat breakfast at a pancake house in Milwaukee before meeting with Journal Sentinel reporters and editors.

Addressing a reporter’s question after Wednesday’s rally, Huckabee defended his decision to leave the campaign trail for 36 to 48 hours this weekend to make a paid speech to a young professional group in the Cayman Islands.

“I’m not independently wealthy,” he said.

Huckabee’s Actually Done Some Math of His Own

LYNCHBURG, VA. — It may be miracles he’s espousing, but Mike Huckabee’s done a little math of his own. Even if he might not be able to attain 1,191 votes necessary to win, he’s banking on the possibility John McCain can’t either.

“If John McCain doesn’t get 1,191 delegates, this goes to the convention, all bets are off,” Huckabee told reporters. “And after the first ballot anybody can end up being the nominee.”

So what if Karl Rove went on CBS’ Face the Nation saying it’s implausible that Huckabee will get the numbers necessary to win the nomination. Huckabee’s response: “Karl Rove has also maxed out personal contributions to John McCain … The fact the opposing team has their cheerleaders and band blowing songs against me hardly motivates me to quit. It only motivates me to play harder.”

For Huckabee, the game is not over.

“I’m really not very persuaded by the party officials and the party establishment who come out now and are saying ‘Oh, well John McCain has 700 delegates, we oughta just quit,’” said Huckabee.

“When they wrote the rules, it said you had to have 1,191. So why did they write the rules for that game of play and now want to change the rules, that’s crazy. And so, you know, I’m playing by the rules that were written for me and I’m not trying to make them and I’m not trying to break them, so we’ll continue doing it.”

Referencing Hillary Clinton’s tearful moments in recent months, Huckabee said, “If I cried and whined every time someone ignored me in this, I’d quit a year ago. But you have to realize that in every stage of this, there’s yet to be a time when the pundits said, Huckabee’s the guy to pull this off…I’m enjoying it if no other reason than to just intimidate the daylights out of all the other people who feel like they have it figured out.”

Following what he called an “overwhelming” win in Kansas and “shocking” victory in Louisiana, Huckabee said he felt “confident” going into Virginia.

“When [your opponents] really don’t think you have a chance, they ignore you. When they say bad things about you, they fear you. So the fact that I’m being asked to leave and all these things are being said, it’s an extraordinary honor. I don’t necessarily enjoy it, but I sure appreciate it.”

Huckabee to Get Evangelical Leader’s Nod

Well – as my readers read here,

This should come as no surprise…  read on:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

James Dobson, one of the nation’s most prominent evangelical Christian leaders, is about to endorse former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, The Associated Press has learned.

Dobson, founder of Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Focus on the Family, talked to the GOP presidential hopeful Thursday and later was to release a statement explaining his choice, said Gary Schneeberger, a spokesman for Dobson.

Huckabee had long sought Dobson’s endorsement, believing he is the best fit to advance Dobson’s conservative, moral worldview.

Until now, Dobson had never endorsed a GOP presidential hopeful during the primary campaign. But he ruled out front-runner John McCain in a blistering commentary on Super Tuesday, and on Thursday the fight for the GOP nomination narrowed to a two-man race between McCain and Huckabee, who is far behind in the delegate count but pledged to fight on. Mitt Romney, a third hopeful trying to claim the conservative label, dropped out of the race Thursday.

Dobson released a statement Tuesday that criticized McCain for his support of embryonic stem cell research, his opposition to a federal anti-gay marriage amendment and for his temper and use of foul language.

He said if McCain were the nominee, he would not cast a ballot for president for the first time in his life.

Dobson had left open the possibility that he would vote for either Romney or Huckabee, but endorsed neither.

Throughout the unsettled GOP race, Dobson picked his spots to signal that some candidates simply didn’t meet his standards. Dobson wrote on a conservative news Web site that he wouldn’t support former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani should he win the Republican nomination. Dobson called Giuliani an “unapologetic supporter of abortion on demand” and criticized him for signing a bill in 1997 creating domestic-partnership benefits in New York City.

At one point, Dobson said he’d consider voting for a minor-party candidate if faced with Giuliani as the nominee.

Later, Dobson ruled out former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson for his stands on issues. Dobson also said Thompson “has no passion, no zeal, and no apparent ‘want to.'”

Dobson emphasizes that when he endorses candidates, he is doing so as a private citizen and not as a representative of Focus on the Family, a tax-exempt organization.

As Romney Falters in Republican Race, Huckabee’s Drive Gathers Momentum

BOSTON — Even before the results were clear on Tuesday, Mitt Romney’s advisers conceded that they faced a steep climb to the nomination because of simple delegate math.

But now they also have to cope with a strong competitor to their momentum. Mr. Romney and his archrival for conservative voters, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, each won at least five states on Tuesday. Mr. Huckabee lost narrowly in Missouri to Senator John McCain of Arizona.

Speaking to supporters on Tuesday night in suburban Little Rock, Ark., Mr. Huckabee, former governor of the state, derided the view that he was to be counted out, telling a modest-size crowd that the vote had indeed turned the Republican contest into a two-person race — and that he was in it.

“Tonight, we’re proving we’re still on our feet, and much to the amazement of many, we’re getting there,” he said to cheers.

He gave no indication that his still substantial delegate deficit was a reason for pulling out.

“As long as there are still votes and delegates, there’s going to be one guy answering the bell every time there’s a new round,” Mr. Huckabee told his supporters.

Though Mr. Huckabee lacks a convincing route to the nomination, his continued presence promises to make Mr. Romney’s path much more rugged, drawing away the very conservative voters Mr. Romney had counted on to defeat Mr. McCain.

Mr. Romney’s aides tried to minimize the Huckabee effect, saying it would simply delay his progress, not prohibit it.

“Huckabee has a specific appeal on specific issues to an important sliver of the electorate,” said Kevin Madden, a spokesman for Mr. Romney. “What Huckabee seems to be doing is still maintaining that specific appeal. What it’s done is it hasn’t stopped us. But instead it’s drawn out the primary calendar.”

Mr. Madden acknowledged that without Mr. Huckabee in the race, almost every previous nominating contest might have turned out differently.

“We’d have a greater ability to bring together these coalitions of conservatives, the economic and the social and the national security conservatives, and be the best candidate to unite the party,” Mr. Madden said.

Mr. Huckabee’s campaign manager, Chip Saltsman, said that the results on Tuesday had given the former Arkansas governor’s efforts a big boost and that contributions had increased.

“It gives us a lot of momentum, going forward,” Mr. Saltsman said. “I think we go forward with a lot more money than we thought we were going to have.”

He said Mr. Huckabee was not angling for second place on the Republican ticket.

“We’re still running for president,” Mr. Saltsman said. “We’re not running for vice president.”

As an example of the Romney campaign’s hurriedly revised calculations, aides had begun discussing an unlikely strategy that relies on delegates who are pledged to other candidates but who are not technically bound to them. Under that plan, the advisers envision that conservative fears continue to work against Mr. McCain, buying time and fueling a series of big victories for Mr. Romney. That would place him at a point where he has enough momentum to wrest some of the promised but not bound delegates into his column at a contested convention.

“Anybody who says it’s all going to be a mathematical exercise is wrong,” said Tom D. Rath, a senior adviser in the Romney campaign. “The math will follow the politics.”

The math, however, is daunting. Even some of the campaign’s more promising hypothetical delegate counts for how the race might shake out by Wednesday would leave them facing a serious deficit in the race to the 1,191 needed to clinch the nomination.

Under less rosy situations, Mr. Romney could be left with the almost impossible situation of having to win almost every remaining contest.

On the other hand, conservative grass-roots anger does appear to be building in some corners against Mr. McCain. Several conservative commentators have thrown their weight behind Mr. Romney.

On Tuesday, James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, released a blistering statement about Mr. McCain, saying he could not in good conscience vote for the senator.

Meanwhile, Mr. McCain has been playing up the names of conservatives who have endorsed him, including Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, whom he called “the most conservative member of the Senate.”

Mr. Romney’s advisers hope the upshot of the grass-roots anger and a divided delegate picture is that they will be able to derail at least temporarily the rush to crown Mr. McCain as the nominee.

“The calendar gets spread out enough so you can compete everywhere,” said Ben Ginsberg, a senior adviser to Mr. Romney. “And the sort of rebellion that’s taking place in the grass roots against McCain has more time to take root.”

Huckabee wins all 18 W.Va. delegates

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Mike Huckabee won the first contest declared on Super Tuesday, picking up all 18 national delegates awarded at West Virginia‘s state GOP convention

Read it Here

Mike Huckabee – on the issues.

A Voter’s guide…

ACCOMPLISHMENTS
1. With ten-and-a-half years of experience running state government, Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas has more relevant executive experience than any candidate in the race – either Republican or Democrat.

2. Recognized and tapped by his peers for leadership, the National Governor’s Association selected Governor Huckabee as it’s Chairman.

3. TIME Magazine honored him as one of the five best Governors in America.

4. Governor Huckabee is a fiscal conservative who cut taxes almost 100 times in the state of Arkansas, including the state’s first broad-based tax cuts, and turned a $200 million deficit into an $850 million surplus.

ISSUES
1. TAXES/ECONOMY –Governor Huckabee supports The FairTax because it will restore the “Made in America” label, making American goods 12-25% more competitive, boosting economic growth, increasing our exports, and securing American jobs. It also prevents criminals or illegal aliens from avoiding taxes, and makes the taxes we all pay 100% transparent.

2. GOVERNMENT SPENDING – Governor Huckabee is committed to reducing government spending. One way he’ll do this is by reducing the cost of welfare. Governor Huckabee will work with states to reduce welfare roles through programs like the one he implemented in Arkansas, which reduced welfare roles by 50%.

3. HEALTH CARE –Governor Huckabee will implement a consumer-based healthcare system that emphasizes preventative medicine and wellness. Because 70% of our $2 trillion dollar healthcare costs is spent treating chronic, preventable diseases, this approach will make healthcare more affordable for everybody while keeping us healthier.

4. FAMILY VALUES –Governor Huckabee supports a federal constitutional amendment to protect the right to life. He Successfully fought for Arknasas’ marriage amendment and strongly supports a similar, federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

5. IMMIGRATION –Governor Huckabee will secure the border (with physical barriers, electronic surveillance, and more border-patrol personnel and detention facilities). He will also end sanctuary cities and increase penalties on, and enforcement against, employers who hire illegal immigrants. Governor Huckabee will make sure the border patrol has adequate funding to end our “catch and release” system so that everyone caught trying to enter illegally, overstaying their visa, or committing a crime will be held until they’re tried, convicted, and deported. Gov. Huckabee has also signed the Numbers USA “No Amnesty” Pledge.

6. WAR ON TERROR AND IRAQ – Governor Huckabee knows it takes a large, well-equipped military to ensure our national defense and to deter conventional military confrontations. He also knows we need large, well-equipped intelligence and Special Forces operations for our national offense – so we can effectively find and eliminate terrorist threats at home or abroad. Governor Huckabee will be a Commander in Chief who knows that IF WE HAVE TO FIGHT A WAR, our President has to fight it the way our GENERALS tell him it can be won, not the way we want it to be won.

7. ENERGY INDEPENDENCE –Governor Huckabee will implement a program to end the import of foreign oil in the next ten years by increasing domestic oil production in the short term, and then replacing oil-based energy infrastructure with alternative and renewable energies.

8. CLEMENCIES – Arkansas Governors grant clemency, but the parole board grants parole. Wayne DuMond’s parole was granted by the board and NOT Governor Huckabee.

9. TAXES –When Governor Huckabee left office, the tax rates remained exactly the same as when he first came into office. Governor Huckabee returned almost $400 million to Arkansas taxpayers, and he also DOUBLED the standard deduction for individuals and married couples, DOUBLED the childcare tax credit, and eliminated the marriage penalty. He also repealed capital gains taxes for home sales, lowered the capital gains rate by 25%, expanded the homestead exemption, and set up tax-free savings accounts for medical care and college tuition.  Gov. Huckabee has also signed the Americans for Tax Reform’s pledge not to raise taxes.

10. SECOND AMENDMENT
• Lifetime member of the NRA, member for over 15 years
• First Governor to have concealed-carry permit
• Removed restrictions on carry permit holders
• Protected gun manufacturers from frivolous lawsuits
• Opposes reauthorization of the Assault Weapon Ban
• Opposes expansion of the unconstitutional “Brady Bill”
• Opposes waiting period for purchase of firearms
• Opposes background checks on private firearms transactions at gun shows
• Will nominate judges who interpret the constitution as the Founders intended, rather than as a “living document reflecting current political trends or opinions”
• An avid hunter and conservationist, and a member of the Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation and BASS.