WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will place his complete focus on the Iowa GOP straw poll next month, he told reporters Wednesday, saying he will “pretty much” stay in the Hawkeye state from now through the August 11 event.
The poll is a state GOP party fundraiser and has traditionally been viewed as a key test of strength five months before the Iowa caucuses. But Republican presidential candidates Rudy Giuliani and John McCain both announced in June they would skip the event, putting its relevancy this year in doubt.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads several polls in Iowa and is expected to win the August vote easily. But Huckabee said he won’t be disappointed with a second or third place finish.
“We’ve never said we have to win the straw poll in order to be considered credible,” he said. “It’s not necessarily the ideal goal. We’ve got to do well, that’s what the goal is. And well is not really a place because - for example - if the separation between first, second, and third place is very tight, it may not be perceived that third place is all that distant from second.”
Huckabee also declined to indicated how much his presidential campaign had raised in the second quarter - which ended June 30 - but said it was better than his first quarter $544,000 fundraising haul.
“We’ve got enough money to go through the straw poll and get through that next major milestone for us,” he added.
All presidential candidates are required to disclose their second quarter fundraising totals to the Federal Election Commission by July 15.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney