[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/07/art.huckabee.ap.jpg caption=" Huckabee said Thursday he's staying in the race."] (CNN) - Mike Huckabee said Thursday he will continue his quest for the Republican nomination, and directly appealed for support from backers of Mitt Romney’s now suspended presidential bid.
"As a true authentic, consistent, conservative, I have a vision to bring hope, opportunity and prosperity to all Americans, and I'd like to ask for and welcome the support of those who had previously been committed to Mitt," Huckabee said in a statement.
"This is a two-man race for the nomination, and I am committed to marching on. I believe in the importance of a strong national defense - which includes winning the war against Islamic extremists and the protection of American sovereignty," he continued.
Romney announced earlier Thursday he was suspending his presidential campaign. He did not endorse another candidate, but suggested he was clearing the way for John McCain's nomination.
"If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win," he said during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference. "And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror."
Huckabee currently has 181 delegates compared to John McCain's 714.
- CNN Producer Alexander Mooney
Related: Huckabee says he can still win the Republican nomination