WASHINGTON - Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee hopes victories in Kansas and Louisiana are a sign of things to come in Tuesday's contests in Virginia and Maryland.
The former Arkansas governor on Saturday won all 36 delegates at stake in Kansas and narrowly held on to win Louisiana's primary. But he badly trails Arizona Sen. John McCain, the likely nominee, in the overall race for delegates. Some say he should even step aside as a way to help the GOP maintain resources for the general election.
Huckabee described such talk as "total nonsense."
"The Democrats haven't settled their nominee either, so for us to suddenly act like we have to all step aside and have a coronation instead of an election, that's the antithesis of everything Republicans are supposed to believe," he said on "Meet the Press" on NBC. "We believe competition breeds excellence and the lack of it breeds mediocrity."
Huckabee said even he was surprised by Saturday's results. Huckabee won Kansas' delegates, but fell short of 50 percent in Louisiana, the threshold needed to claim the 20 delegates that were available. Instead, they will be awarded at a state convention next weekend.
Huckabee said he was not ready to concede Washington state, Saturday's third contest. McCain won a narrow victory in the caucuses with 26 percent of the vote to Huckabee's 24 percent.
He has pledged to stay in the race until a candidate earns the 1,191 delegates needed to secure the nomination. During one of the three Sunday talk shows he appeared on, it was noted that his prospects for getting to that magic number were virtually impossible.
"This country was built on the impossible. It's impossible that I'm still in the race. That's what most people would've said a few months ago," he said on "Face the Nation" on CBS. "In politics so many things can happen that can change the landscape overnight. A candidate can say something, do something, and everything can change."
He continued to deflect talk of interest in being McCain's choice for vice president.
"I'm not going to be asked. I think it's pretty evident that there would be a whole lot of people on the list long, long before me, and one of them would say 'yes,'" Huckabee said.
Told that McCain was heavily favored to win the primaries in Maryland and Virginia on Tuesday, Huckabee said he would do better than expected.
"I think we'll get a nice little bump out of what happened in Kansas," Huckabee said.
Huckabee spent part of Sunday at services at the late Rev. Jerry Falwell's church. The candidate steered clear of politics, but was welcomed as a "dear friend" by the Rev. Jonathan Falwell, who became pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church after his father died.
Huckabee was escorted by Jerry Falwell Jr., chancellor of Liberty University, who had endorsed him in November.