GREEN BAY, Wisconsin (CNN) – If Mitt Romney’s endorsement of John McCain did anything to dampen Mike Huckabee’s desire to stay in this race, it didn’t show.
“I think still the Republican Party ought to be big enough to have the debate, the discussion and an election. I’m not just willing to be part of the coronation yet,” Huckabee told CNN Thursday. “If we have a battle and [McCain] wins, he wins. But he hasn’t won yet so I just think it’s a little bit premature to go ahead and slice the cake when you haven’t had the wedding yet.”
Huckabee described McCain’s growing support as “a ‘me too’ herd mentality.” “There's a lot of folks in the establishment of the party now not wanting to be left out,” he told reporters.
“But what I'm concerned about is that there are a whole lot of people out here in middle America who are feeling left out. They're feeling their votes aren't even going to be counted.”
Huckabee repeatedly points out that Republicans will have to win the states he’s won to keep the White House. He then ticks off the big states McCain has won primaries in that are typically Democratic strongholds in the general election.
By the time Wisconsin holds its primary on Tuesday, Huckabee will have spent six days campaigning in the state. In just the first two days he has become an unabashed panderer, regaling crowds with a story (sort of) about singing the national anthem at Lambeau Field and promising them he’ll put on a famed Cheesehead if they carry him to victory.
At his second to last stop of the day, a local television reporter asked if the difference between a victory or a loss on Tuesday were to hinge on putting on a Green Bay Packer tie, would he do it? “Absolutely,” grinned Huckabee, taking the tie from the reporter and tossing the green one he’d been wearing all day to wife Janet. He then successfully tied on the new tie without a mirror in front laughing reporters and a bank of cameras.
Seconds after Huckabee left the room, an aide rushed back in to return the reporter’s tie, a gift from his grandparents.