(CNN) – In an interview with CNN’s Mary Snow, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee held his ground about remaining in the GOP nomination race.
Pointing to the right to bear arms, the fair tax, illegal immigration, the federal marriage amendment, and the human life amendment, Huckabee told Snow, “these are critical issues for many Republicans across this country and they know that discussion ends the day I decide to leave.”
Hucakbee ruled out a possible third party bid, calling it “divisive.”
“I think it’s so much more important that I stay in the Republican Party and fight that it be solid and conservative and not drift off the ranch,” added Huckabee.
The presidential hopeful also told Snow that not addressing issues important to conservatives might lead them to feel ignored. “It’s very important that I stay because the conservative message needs to be told,” he explained.
GOP frontrunner John McCain is expected to easily garner enough pledged delegates to secure the Republican nomination in upcoming primaries and caucuses. The Arizona senator, who is popular among moderates and independents, has been working hard recently to shore up his support with the conservative base of the Republican Party.
With Mitt Romney’s exit from the race, Huckabee has held himself out as a more conservative alternative to McCain. Romney, however, recently endorsed McCain, and asked that all of the delegates pledged to him instead cast their votes for McCain at the GOP’s nominating convention this summer. McCain was also endorsed by former President George H. W. Bush Monday morning.
–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart