February 9th, 2008
05:35 PM ET
11 years ago

Huckabee says he's looking for a 'miracle'

 Huckabee said Saturday he's staying in the race.

Huckabee said Saturday he's staying in the race.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - There was no line to get in to Mike Huckabee’s speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference this morning – an event that featured none of the chaotic scenes that greeted his GOP rivals earlier in the week.

There was a group of sign-waving supporters in the lobby of the hotel where the forum is being held, but no crowds of campaign workers just outside the ballroom where he spoke pressing attendees to support the former Arkansas governor in the conference’s presidential straw poll - just three bleary-eyed young volunteers.

Rows of empty seats dotted the ballroom long after his speech began; the standing ovations only roused about half the audience from their seats.

It could have been the 9 a.m. Saturday time slot, a low-profile scheduling choice two days after the rest of the Republican presidential field addressed the conference.

It could have been the fact that Huckabee - despite his sentimental favorite status among social conservatives in attendance here - has, like John McCain, never been completely embraced by a significant bloc of the CPAC crowd. (In his case, the holdouts are the fiscal conservatives represented by the Club for Growth, which has spent vast sums battling his run since long before his unexpected Iowa win.)

Or it could be that even among his most passionate supporters, a CNN reporter Saturday could not find a single one who believed he would win the White House.

Some thought he was running to increase his odds of a vice presidential slot on the Republican ticket. Others – excited by Huckabee’s recent endorsement by evangelical icon James Dobson - said his continued campaign was meant to draw attention to social issues that would otherwise be ignored, and give an outlet to conservatives frustrated by their party’s apparent decision to back maverick John McCain.

And a few thought he was just running until he could surpass the delegate count received by former GOP contender Mitt Romney, with whom he often tangled on the campaign trail – though some worried he might follow Romney’s lead, and drop out of the race on the same stage where the former Massachusetts governor ended his run earlier this week.

Huckabee acknowledged those rumors early in his Saturday speech. “I know there was some speculation I’d be coming here today to announce I was getting out of the race,” he said with a grin. “….Am I quitting? No, I am not.”

“I know the pundits and I know what they say, the math doesn’t work out,” he said later, acknowledging the steep statistical odds to his presidential ambitions. “Well I didn’t major in math, I majored in miracles. And I still believe in those, too."

But numbers matter – and at some point in the next few days, it may no longer be possible for Huckabee to accumulate the number of delegates needed to catch up to GOP frontrunner John McCain.

At least three of every four questions reporters asked Huckabee after his speech Saturday were about the timing and circumstances of a potential exit from the race. Most of the rest were about his relationship with John McCain.

Senior Huckabee advisers Chip Saltsman and Ed Rollins gave reporters at CPAC Saturday a memo that insisted his continued presence in the race would help, not hurt, the Republican Party because it would draw media "oxygen" from the heated Democratic race - and that this idea was being advanced by McCain supporters.

Huckabee pointed to $250,000 his campaign had raised online in 24 hours as a sign of the health of his presidential effort. When a reporter pointed out that it was likely McCain would soon reach the delegate count needed to secure the nomination, Huckabee replied, “I know I won’t drop out at least until that happens. Then we’ll see.”

- CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

Filed under: John McCain • Mike Huckabee
soundoff (123 Responses)
  1. Tatiana_P

    I hope Mike wins!

    February 9, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  2. Erik, Dallas Texas

    Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, despite what Huck may believe, and what many of his Evangelical supporters may believe, where much, much closer in their conservative, and moral-based beliefs, than either were to John McCain........I was, and am still, a Romney supporter........I always liked Huck, until he, even almost stating it in so many words, stayed in the race to try and draw support away from Romney due to his absolute inability to accept Romney's Mormon fatih, and basically flat-out admitting that he would support McCain over Romney.

    This will, unfortunately, destroy Huckabee's campaign........I can guarantee you that the vast majority of Romney supporters are pretty miffed, and, frankly, feel flat-out 'stabbed in the back' by Huckabee's suprising stance mentioned above........had Romney and Huckabee combined there efforts, as opposed to bickering over trival differences, McCain would not have had a snowball's chance in heck of winning the GOP.

    I hope I'm wrong and Huck can indeed pull off this 'Miracle', but I certainly won't be holding my breath.

    February 9, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  3. Missourigirl

    I like Mike too. It's too bad the GOP couldn't see how beneficial it would have been to throw their support behind him from the earliest of the debates.They chose instead, to cut off their nose to spite their face.
    It was clear then, as it is now, that Mike is the best GOP candidate. I'll hang in there with him until the end.

    February 9, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  4. Georgia

    Does the Christian right really read the Bible?

    I think Jesus said (1) to feed the poor–sounds like welfare;

    February 9, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  5. Cody Harding

    For everyone who feels strongly about Huckabee winning the election, I would like you to find a little-known book by Heinlein, called Revolt in 2100.

    In the book, a preacher from a rural state becomes President. He then becomes the self-titled Prophet, and begins a rule of religious totalitarianism. Scientific thought is ostracised and outlawed, and only Faith matters to the Governing body.

    Now I understand this is fiction. But could it happen? With his remark about mathematics stated above, I fear that it could happen. And probably WILL happen if he is elected. Thankfully, most of America has decided to side with a Republican who isn't a maniac or a preacher.

    Religion is a good thing, if used in moderation. However, if used without restraint, much like Sen. Huckabee, it becomes something opressive and wrong. Don't confuse religion with zealotry, America.

    "What are the facts? Again and again, what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, discard religious dogma, care not 'what the neighbors might think.' You pilot constantly into an uncertain future. Facts are your only guide. Use the Facts!" –Heinlein.

    February 9, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  6. jonsid

    He's looking for a miracle? I can just picture him saying that as President while a thousand guided missles are flying overfhead and headed our way. Whew! I'm glad he's almost out of here.

    February 9, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  7. Diane

    We can all pray that no one from the evangelical right will ever be a president of this country. We can thank the evangelicals for electing Bush because he was "pro-life", when they knew he was pro-war. That makes all those pro-life voters responsible for the tens, if not hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by the war in Iraq. I bet they don't feel they were responsible. How about if we told them there were a few fetus' among the dead?

    February 9, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  8. Eric-Houston, TX

    Nothing against McCain–not too worried about who's a "true conservative"-but I've half a mind to vote for Huckabee.

    February 9, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  9. Georgia

    Does the Christian right really read the Bible?

    Jesus said:
    (1) to feed the poor (sounds like welfare)
    (2) care for the sick (sounds like universal health care)
    (3) visit those in prison (sounds like social reform)
    (4) tend to the stranger in your midst, i.e., like the Good Samaritan (sounds like immigration reform)
    (5) to turn the other cheek (sounds downright pacifist)

    I can't seem to find the Republican party platform anywhere in those precepts.

    February 9, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  10. Daniel

    Huckabots – Your guy is done, he can't win against either democrat, and he won't get a single intelligent Romney supporter. Give it up. Your guy is a corrupt, lying politician

    February 9, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  11. Cindy

    Why has no one explained how when Mike gets rid of the IRS, churches will raise donations when they are no longer tax deductable?

    February 9, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  12. Isla Romero

    A country will get a leader they deserve. If McCain is the Republican nominee you can guarantee a DEmocrat in the Whitehouse. Everyone who hears Mike speak is inspired and energized and reminded that he is the only one who stands a chance to win against Hillary/Obama. The media hates Mike. He is attacked from the left and the right. Why? Because Mike speaks for the regular hard working American. He is the conservative's last hope in this race and if we don't support him now we have no right to complain when Barrack Obama wins. We'll get exactly what we deserve. It'll be a very sad day for America.

    February 9, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  13. Glen, Boston, MA

    1. Ron Paul is NOT beating anybody – count the delegates. He is getting trounced.

    2. I think there now is an incredible opportunity to forge a fundamental Republicanism that thrives without conservativism. There is nothing inherently conservative about Republicanism. The same concern for the environment and the poor that are the root of progressive values can emerge as the root of a new republicanism under McCain.

    February 9, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  14. Renaisauce

    Good luck, Huck. Central Virginia just took a straw poll and you were represented just barely more then Fred Thompson. By the way, Ron Paul people, there still aren't very many people taking your candidate seriously. Sorry, but he's just a good whistle-blower, not a strong potential leader of the country.

    February 9, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  15. issa

    And by the way, I am supporting Mike because of Fair Tax. There are millions out there like me, who are supporting Mike because of it. He's not only getting the Christian and pro-life votes. This is the biggest lie the media is feeding this country. There are atheists and Agnostics who love Mike! Go Mike!!!

    February 9, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  16. inchrist

    Know your candidates before you vote people...Huckabee is a wolf in sheeps clothing.
    Ron Paul is the one TRUE conservative.

    February 9, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  17. cathy

    A miracle Mike? That is what you would need to get the nomination. Why not just bow out now and let McCain pour all of his energies into beating the Dems? Romney saw the wisdom of doing that.

    February 9, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  18. JO

    Huckabee ... ,Huckaboom? ....Huck Be Gone !

    February 9, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  19. Bring Thunder

    Huckabee has no chance of winning. McCain will be the Republican nominee.

    But how does McCain plan on uniting the Republican party and winning the general election? The only way for him to do that is to team up with Romney as the Vice Presidential nominee. By doing this, the Republican party will be unified and have a good chance against the democrats.

    February 9, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  20. Sharon

    If Obama wins the Democratic race our family for the first time will vote Republican.
    We can only pray that Huckabee is still in the race. The last thing that we need is another republican like Bush (McCain) in the White House.
    How many times does McCain need to run and not win before he gets the hint that he will not get the presidency.??
    The american people are sick and tired of empty promises. What happened to our constitutional rights and In God We Trust ??

    February 9, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  21. Sick of awaiting moderation

    CNN Less "moderation please.
    Hey all let's stop using God in politics. We are fighting a war in Iraq and Afghanistan because both sides are citing God as being on their sides. God does not choose sides, He gave us free will and He lets us make our own blunders. He may do miracles in the 21st century, but I am pretty sure the evidence will bear out that he stays out of politics. A minister should know better.
    Time to go Mike!

    February 9, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  22. Louis Sutera

    It is amazing how people and the press misinterpreted Mike Huckabee's statement about God and the Constitution but not listening to the whole context of his statements. It would be a shame to think that a few misinterpretations would be used to keep us from getting the "man of the hour" for this nation! I hope the people in the other 27 states that have not yet voted will think clearly about all the ramifications of a McCain nomination, especially in the light of the fact that McCain did not beat Huckabee in South Carolina, McCain's turning point. In spite of the votes Fred Thompson garnished from Huckabee, Mike still only trailed McCain in the final total by only 3 points. Also, McCain only beat Huckabee by only one point in Missouri.It is not too late for a real contest of ideas and candidates.

    February 9, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  23. D

    Id like one Republican to answer this and their platform on right to life, how can you say abortion is wrong but support the military dropping bombs and killing people?

    February 9, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
1 2 3 4 5