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ELECTION 08: Huckabee success continues


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee continued his surprising success Feb. 9 with victories in Kansas and Louisiana, and afterward he said the Republican nominating process is far from over.

Meanwhile, Democrat Barack Obama defeated Hillary Clinton in all four states over the weekend — Louisiana, Nebraska, Washington state and Maine — to seize the momentum after the two battled to a draw on Super Tuesday.

Huckabee’s victories mean he has won in eight states, including five on Super Tuesday. The Washington state Republican Party declared McCain the winner of its Saturday caucus with only 87 percent of the vote counted, although Huckabee said he wasn’t ready to concede. With 93 percent of the vote now counted, McCain leads Huckabee 25.4 to 23.8 percent.

Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, Huckabee said his campaign is still surging and that it collected $250,000 online in one day last week — a record for him. But Huckabee still trails by a wide margin in the delegate count, with McCain having 724 delegates to Huckabee’s 234, according to RealClearPolitics.com. A candidate needs 1,191 delegates to win the nomination.

Even before he picked up his latest two victories, he told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), in a widely circulated quote, “I didn’t major in math. I majored in miracles, and I still believe in those.”

It was a busy Sunday for Huckabee, who appeared on three news programs and spoke at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., where Jonathan Falwell (Jerry Falwell’s son) is pastor. Virginia holds its primary for both parties Tuesday.


“The thing is, it’s not just how many [delegates] I need; Sen. McCain also needs that many,” Huckabee, a former Southern Baptist pastor, said on Meet the Press. “And if he doesn’t get that many, he’s not the nominee either. This thing could go to the convention. Who knows?”

On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Huckabee said he was “prepared to stay in until somebody has 1,191 delegates.”

On NBC, Huckabee labeled as “nonsense” the suggestion that his staying in the race hurts McCain’s chances to win in November. Competition, he said, “breeds excellence.”

“Now, the question I have is, do we tell the people [who haven’t voted yet] in Texas and Ohio and Pennsylvania and all these other states — North Carolina, Nebraska — that ‘You don’t matter, we don’t care what you think. We’re going to go ahead and pull the plug on this whole thing and not even give you a chance to express yourselves’? If our party can’t have a thoughtful discussion and some meaningful debate and dialogue about the issues important to us as a party, then … we’re really not prepared to lead. I am prepared to lead. That’s why I’m in this race.”

Huckabee won the Kansas caucuses, 60 percent to McCain’s 24 percent, and the Louisiana primary, 43 percent to McCain’s 42 percent. While he picked up all of Kansas’ 36 delegates, he didn’t get any delegates in Louisiana because that state’s primary awarded delegates only if a candidate reached 50 percent. Louisiana’s primary is part of a multi-stage process in selecting delegates.

Nevertheless, social conservatives and evangelicals continued to favor Huckabee. In Louisiana he won 56 percent of evangelicals, who made up a majority (57 percent) of the voters. (Entrance polls were not conducted in the Kansas or Washington caucuses).

Huckabee said he would vote for McCain in the general election if the Arizona senator was the nominee. He also said he doesn’t want to be vice president. But when asked if he would accept such an offer, Huckabee said, “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,” he said. “So there’s no point in [me] speculating.”

He agrees with McCain on many issues, Huckabee said, but not all of them.

“There are significant differences that we have on the human life amendment, on embryonic stem cell research on human embryos, on the McCain-Feingold campaign finance act — which I think is one of the worst things that ever happened to election law in this country — and on the Bush tax cuts. And, so I think that there’s room for us to have that conversation.”

On the Democratic side, weekly church attendance once again served as a predictor of the winner in the Louisiana primary. Among weekly churchgoers, Obama beat Clinton, 61-34 percent. Weekly churchgoers made up 57 percent of Democratic voters.

Both parties are holding primaries Tuesday in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. On Feb. 19 both parties will hold primaries in Washington state and Wisconsin. (Washington state has caucuses and primaries.) Democrats in Hawaii also will hold their caucuses that day.

BUSH SAYS JUDICIARY AT STAKE — President Bush spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Saturday, telling those in attendance that the fall election provides a stark contrast between Democrats and Republicans on several issues, including abortion and the judiciary.

“On the rights of the unborn — the most vulnerable among us — one side supports abortion on demand,” he said, according to a transcript. “You and I believe in the worth of every human being, the matchless joy of adoption, and the right to life. On the federal judiciary, one side says we should confirm judges who believe in the ‘living Constitution’ — which basically means they can make up laws as they go along. I say we need judges who respect our values, do not follow the political winds and revere the plain meaning of our Constitution. We need more judges like John Roberts and Sam Alito.”

Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Bush also said he believes GOP frontrunner John McCain “is a conservative.”

“[H]e is very strong on national defense,” Bush said. “He is tough fiscally. He believes the tax cuts ought to be permanent. He is pro-life. His principles are sound and solid as far as I’m concerned.”

CELEBRATING GIULIANI’S EXIT — Social conservatives should celebrate the fact that the Republican Party is not going to nominate a pro-choice candidate, Richard Land believes. Just months ago, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was the national frontrunner, but his campaign fizzled and didn’t win a single state. He dropped out after finishing third in Florida Jan. 29.

“If Giuliani had been the nominee, you would have seen a really strong realignment of voting patterns,” Land, head of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told Baptist Press. “But the Republican Party is not going to nominate Rudy Giuliani, and I think that sometimes the conservative movement doesn’t stop to smell the roses.

“Six months ago we were all being told that we were just going to have to hold our nose and vote for Rudy Giuliani,” Land added. “And there were a lot of us who said, ‘No, we’re not going to vote for him. We can’t vote him as a matter of conscience.’ Well, what happened in Florida — the bigger story than John McCain’s win was the reaffirmation of the fact that the Republican Party is a pro-life party and it is going to remain a pro-life party and it’s not going to nominate a pro-choice candidate.

“That’s a very good thing, and the conservatives are just sort of, ‘Oh well, Giuliani’s out.’ Six months ago we would have been whooping and hollering over that. We ought to at least stop to enjoy it long enough to have a Starbucks latte.”

The “vast majority” of evangelicals don’t vote Republican, Land said, but instead “vote pro-life.”
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.