Huckabee: I'm Not Leaving The Race

By: AP
By: AP

(CBS) Republican candidate Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas Governor who is nipping at the heels of front-runner John McCain, with key victories in primaries and caucuses on Saturday, said he would ignore entreaties by some who want him to exit the race and allow the Arizona Senator to head to the convention virtually unopposed.

Appeaing on CBS's Face The Nation, he told host Bob Schieffer that he would continue to run until a nominee is decided.

“I'm prepared to stay in until somebody has 1,191 delegates, because that's the magic number at which a person is the nominee of the party," he said.

Huckabee also suggested that "all bets are off" if no single candidate wins the magic number before the GOP convention, and suggested that Republicans who have already voted in primaries, an in particular the party's superdelegates, are not "absolutely sold on what they’ve done."

The questions came days after Texas Governor Rick Perry asked Huckabee to leave the race, to avoid a convention fight or the political in-fighting which might benefit the Democrats. Huckabee nixed the idea, saying on Friday, "If we're really serious about taking it all the way to November, we better have a candidate who's truly battle-tested. So this nonsense about how I should step aside and have a cakewalk all the way to the election, that's crazy. Unless they were all to step aside and let me have a cakewalk, then that would be a fine thing."

Huckabee also said he was not staying in the race merely as a bargaining tool to win a vice presidential seat on the ticket. "I'm not interested in being a running mate. I would have run for vice president. I would have signed up with one of the guys I thought was going to win and tried to ingratiate myself if that's what I wanted.”

Also joining Schieffer on the program was Republican strategist Karl Rove, who said he believed it was not possible for Huckabee to win the GOP nomination, given that he would have to corral the vast majority of remaining delegates left, or who are uncommitted, in order to top McCain.

"I find it very unlikely, completely implausible that Governor Huckabee could win 83 percent of the delegates by either winning the caucuses and primaries here on out and/or having some of the bound delegates, pledged delegates change their minds," Rove said.

Rove, a Fox News analyst, admitted having donated to the McCain campaign (McCain is now "our presumptive nominee, and it was time for me to write him a check"), although he had not supported him in the past. He also said it was not helpful to McCain's candidacy for Huckabee to continue running, which he offered was the governor's right, but he also said, "I don't think anybody should be trying to pressure him to get out of the race before he's ready to get out of the race."

(CBS)Rove then got out a white board to demonstrate how polls have been breaking showing McCain's strength against either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, and suggested that McCain would run basically even with either Democratic candidate.

"You wouldn't be getting that if Republican grassroots voters weren't already united behind you."

Rove said he believed, despite the recent momentum behind Obama, that Clinton would ultimately win the nomination.

"I think we're likely to see her fall behind in the delegate count in February, because the contests advantage Senator Obama, but I think we're likely to see then, in March and April, for her to climb back into the lead."

Rove also criticized Obama as "awfully thin, both on experience and on the issues," and brought up a rating of the Illinois Senator's record publicized by the magazine National Journal (and criticized by media watchdog groups) citing Obama as the "most liberal" senator.

Schieffer also spoke with Democratic political strategist Joe Trippi, who had recently worked on the campaign of John Edwards.

Trippi thought the nomination was up in the air, despite Obama's recent wins, given the Clinton's campaign's expectations about the March primaries in Texas and Ohio where she expects to do well. "But even that's in jeopardy, I think, as Obama builds some momentum here.

"I think Texas is a weird situation, where they have a primary and a caucus," Trippi said. "And I think Obama's done so well in these caucuses that there's an actual chance that if they target the caucus part of Texas, they can win - he could actually surprise everybody and win Texas. And now I'm hearing that he's sending his best Iowa operatives, his caucus operatives, to Texas. So I think that's the state I would watch right now as we go into March.

"Bottom line, here, this thing is really up in the air on the Democratic side," he said, referring to the fight for the votes of superdelegates. "It's going to be I think exciting. I think it's positive for the party because of this massive turnout that we're seeing. But it could end up ugly at the end."


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