[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/02/ap080201033802.jpg caption="Huckabee and Romney have tangled often on the campaign trail this year."]HUNTSVILLE, Alabama (CNN) - White House hopeful Mike Huckabee denied the Republican presidential race had narrowed to two candidates, Mitt Romney and John McCain, telling journalists at an Alabama campaign stop Saturday that “if anybody ought to be quitting, it's Mitt Romney.”
“John McCain hasn't suggested I step aside. So if Mitt Romney's going to engage me, which he has, then I feel like the engagement is on,” said the former Arkansas governor.
“…If I'm ahead of him in places like Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, then he needs to step aside and let me in fact be that conservative alternative than he says we need.”
Romney’s campaign spent much of the early voting season attacking many of his opponents, including Huckabee. And Huckabee has been a fierce critic of the former Massachusetts governor, regularly criticizing him in presidential primary debates and on the campaign trail.
In Huntsville Saturday, Huckabee dismissed the idea that John McCain was an “inevitable” Republican nominee, pointing to the fact that more than 90 percent of the GOP’s delegates were still unspoken for.
Huckabee, who began to focus on Bible Belt states like Alabama while his GOP rivals were still battling for Florida, repeated recent comments that his campaign was setting its sights on a win there. “And frankly, I don't know of anyone that should win it more than me,” he said.
Most recent Alabama polls show Huckabee in second place there, behind John McCain and ahead of Mitt Romney, with just days to go until the state’s February 5 primary vote. The former Baptist minister is continuing his primary season pattern of making many of his campaign stops visits to local churches.