February 26th, 2008
01:00 PM ET
10 years ago

Huckabee presses for debate with McCain, raises FEC issue

 Huckabee is pressing for a debate with John McCain.

Huckabee is pressing for a debate with John McCain.

(CNN) - Mike Huckabee made clear Tuesday he's not ready to concede the Republican presidential race to John McCain.

Speaking to reporters in Cleveland, the Arkansas Republican pressed McCain for a debate, and suggested the Arizona senator's viability may be hindered if the Federal Election Commission caps his primary spending.

“There's a race going on, and I wish Sen. McCain was debating me this weekend,” Huckabee told reporters in Cleveland. “I wish we were going to be in Cleveland tonight on stage or in Dallas or in Houston or San Antonio or Austin or somewhere between now and Tuesday having a debate.”

"I think certainly Republicans in these states that are voting deserve that, and I'm disappointed that we're not in that same kind of forum," Huckabee also said.

McCain said later Tuesday he would consider the possibility of a debate.

Huckabee, who has said he plans on staying in the race until McCain amasses the entire 1,191 delegates needed to secure the party's nomination, also raised the Democratic National Committee's charge that McCain may be subject to FEC spending caps until the Republican Convention in September.

"There are a lot of issues about whether or not he’s going to be able to do anything but go completely dark between virtually now and the nomination convention, and what does that do to the whole field? " Huckabee said.

"What happens?" he continued. "None of us know, that’s my point. When everybody says 'here’s how it is,'nobody knows how it is because isn’t yet."

- CNN's Alexander Marquardt and John King contributed to this report

Filed under: John McCain • Mike Huckabee
soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. Eugene

    If Huckabee had been gaining 20% or less in past primaries I'd suggest that he drop out. However, in the most recent contests he's garnered at least 40% of the vote. That's a significant humber and obviously reason enough to stay in the race.

    If Nader can enter the race then Huckabee has every right to remain in the race.

    Senator McCain may very well be the Republican nominee, so I see no harm in debating Huckabee. Not to mention it gives McCain more time to clarify his positions.

    February 26, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  2. Frank

    Bring back Romney, Bring back Dr. Ron Paul. This campaign ended way too soon.

    February 26, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  3. hucks pal

    To Bubba- you will need the living God

    February 26, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  4. Rob

    Why not? Let there be a 3 way debate between Huckabee, McCain and Paul. I detest Huckabee, but I hate how the media has all but declared the race to be won for McCain before he has hit the "magic number."

    Come on CNN, let's have another debate. This time let's allow all the candidates to get an equal share of the time instead of the debacle at the Reagan library.

    February 26, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  5. PE

    Yes! Let's have a debate. And CNN should sponsor it.

    February 26, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  6. Voter in Texas

    The numbers will be huge watching! It is only fair to hold the debate with three candidates still in the race – no matter the delegate count. The primary is more about the individual candidate where as the general election is more about the party. The American citizens deserve the opportunity to see how these three answer the tough questions and handle themselves, especially since two of them never have had much time given to them. I vote in Texas March 4th and I will vote Republican. A debate would certainly bring about clearification and a clear direction for many voters. I ASK FOR A DEBATE BEFORE MARCH 4TH!!!

    February 26, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |


    February 26, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  8. Ravi

    The race is basically won. It's irritating enough that John McCain has to continue campaigning against Mike Huckabee (Ron Paul being largely irrelevant). Now Huckabee is begging for a debate to keep himself in the diminishing media spotlight.

    John McCain should focus on preparing himself for the general election and not get bogged down by Huckabee's request for a debate. He'll reach the magic 1191 number soon enough. Huckabee should maybe start looking for a real job as his 15 minutes are basically up.

    February 26, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  9. Gary, Detroit, Mich.

    Take your bible and go home Huckabee. It's over. Just go home already. Take Nader with you. Show him your Corvair collection.

    February 26, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  10. Jed in Texas

    Even Huck has more brain capacity than McCain.

    February 26, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  11. Hal

    God Bless You Senator Warner,

    This nation needs more men of your caliber and integrity. While I may not always agree with your politics, I do recognize in you a sincerity and honor that gives me pride in my nation and hope for our government.


    HR Coller

    February 26, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  12. Sharon

    Hasn't he gone home YET?

    February 26, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  13. Kim, Midland MI

    I really don't agree with this man's positions on a lot of things. But John McCain is wound WAY too tight and I don't want him in the White House. There is no way you can live through what he did in Vietnam and not have a lot of scars and a lot of baggage. I don't see McCain's experience as a POW as anything that makes him more qualified than Mike H. Sorry, but he was a victim of circumstances and that's all. I'd rather have someone not tramatized with their hand on the button...

    February 26, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  14. MD

    Governor Huckabee should drop out of the race and let the party begin prepping for Obama. His Quixotic campaign is doing more harm than good.

    February 26, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  15. Claude Jarman

    That a boy Mike, don't go down with out a fight. I am 39 years of age. I have never voted, but if you get on the ticket I will register and vote for the first time in my life.

    February 26, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  16. NickNas

    McCain will NOT debate him. McCain will Lose a 1 on 1. It is the Mans right to demand a debate , he is still running and who knows McCain STILL could have his eeeeeeehhhaaaaa moment. Personally I think he has had 3 already Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran for one. But these republicans accept ANY type of behavior out of their candidates it seems.

    February 26, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  17. Tejano

    Go Away Huck.... You are a non issue. Do your math, It is over.

    February 26, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  18. Mike in Austin


    You'll be lucky to get as many delegates as Romney had...... THREE WEEKS AGO.......

    But, if you like stroking your ego that much, then have at it. Just know that you're a joke

    February 26, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  19. Debbie


    February 26, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  20. Sarah

    I think it is a great idea that Mr. Huckabee, Mr. McCain and Mr. Paul debate. So many people do not know that they still have a choice of candidates. What better way to see the remaining candidates and learn about their positions than in a debate. I personally believe Mr. Huckabee would come out on top of any such debate.

    February 26, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  21. Kim

    What morons posting on here do not know how to spell ARKANSAS. The last A sounds like a W. DUH! Must be Obama supporters.. Like to see you negative people against Huckabee eat your words!! Take a look back at Ronald Reagen's candidacy and how he was far behind and came from the back and won the general election. Things change, besides MATH! There should be a debate, because Huckabee is still in the GOP race. McCain cannot out debate him, and he knows it. Huckabee is ready and willing. NOT EVERYONE THINKS Barack OPRAMA walks on water. Zilch experience, just alot of hot air. Last I knew, he was neither a King, Jesus or God. I'm sick of seeing him on TV. Huckabee is who he is, honest with integrity. If he becomes our next president, you can all say you voted for him and watch our country fall.

    February 26, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  22. Larry Perrault

    Why do people get so bent out of shape about it? The voters will decide. If they hate it that Huckabee's still in the race, they will kick him out.

    He says a lot of people still deserve the right to vote, while4 the nomination is not locked up. Incidentally, for all you non-activists, Huckabee cannot secure enough delegates to clinch a win at the convention ON THE FIRST BALLOT! If it goes beyond that, delegates are free and everything is in the air. I think McCain and Huckabee have maintained a positive tone and relationship and the divided party will come out of te convention united.

    Right now, there are still a lot of people who don't want to vote for McCain. Tuesday's results in Texas will be within 5 percentage points. If Huckabee wins, do these annoyed people (whatever is bothering them – it's probably personal) suppose that millions of Texas Republicans shouldn't have had a choice? I wouldn't want to make THAT case.

    February 26, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
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