(CNN) – As evangelicals mobilize for Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor is bristling at suggestions his political success in South Carolina depends on people of faith.
"I don't think it’s just evangelicals. I think there is a strong support for me among evangelicals - at least I hope so - but I think there is also a strong support for me for people who want immigration to be addressed," he said Sunday, a day in which he addressed three church services in two states.
But he didn’t deny the potential political influence of the state’s ministers. Does he hope they’ll mobilize on his behalf? "Well, I just hope they don't mobilize against me, that's the first thing. Kind of like the Hippocratic oath, first do no harm,” he told reporters.
“The second thing, I mean, we would love for pastors... they can't mobilize, for example, from the pulpit, say ‘everybody, the bus leaves the church 8 a.m. on Saturday,’” he added. “It's a matter of urging them to use the influence they have to get their people out to vote. And I hope they will. Why wouldn't they?”
Huckabee has garnered overwhelming support from evangelicals, and his strongest showings in recent surveys have come in states with significant Christian conservative populations.
The former governor said he felt confident in South Carolina. “We really want to win here," he told reporters, before heading off to campaign events in Michigan. "To say we would be content with fourth place is not true, we wouldn't be, we want to win." But he also said that winning is not vital, as long as he continues to place at the top of the field.
The ordained Baptist minister had looked at home behind the pulpit at First Baptist Church North Spartanburg early Sunday, as he discussed his faith in God and spoke in detail about heaven. "You may be surprised the people you see in heaven, but they might be surprised to see you there as well," said Huckabee.
As Huckabee spoke, grassroots organizers across Michigan planned an ambitious day of evangelical outreach in advance of Tuesday’s primary, including phone trees by attendees of the state’s biggest churches and attention-grabbing events in church parking lots.
Evangelicals may make up as much as 40 percent of GOP primary voters in that state, according to a recent Detroit News poll. Huckabee is running behind Mitt Romney and John McCain there in surveys released this weekend.
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–CNN's Trisha Henry, Wes Little and Rebecca Sinderbrand