Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee says if he determines a win in the Iowa Republican Party’s Straw Poll is a prize worth having, he’ll compete.
"We’ve always planned to be in the Straw Poll. That’s been part of our strategy and we have no reason, right now, to think otherwise," Huckabee says. "We know that things have changed since last week and we were all, I think, stunned by the decision of the Giuliani and McCain campaigns to pull out and not participate."
If Fred Thompson gets in the GOP presidential race and competes in the Straw Poll, a win could catapult a candidate into the national limelight. In that kind of scenario, Huckabee says he would be "absolutely compelled" to participate in the Straw Poll. "But if the disappearance, if the fact that the two, so-called ‘leading candidates’ have pulled out completely changes everything then certainly, you know, we are not going to spend resources and time if it doesn’t have the meaning that it needs to have for the party and for the people of the state," Huckabee says.
As of today, Huckabee says he is "in," but that could change if perception of the Straw Poll’s results changes. "You have two candidates that the national media says are the leaders and they won’t even play and then you’ve got the other candidate the national media says is a leader — he’s already spiked the ball in the end zone and has declared victory for the Straw Poll when it hasn’t even happened yet," Huckabee says. "One of the things that the rest of us have to do is to evaluate is: are we going to a game that’s already been decided? Is it going to be an honest and legitimate and fair test of support?"
Huckabee accuses the national media "stuck off on the east coast" of "annointing" leaders in the race.
About 50 people crowded into a small office suite in downtown Des Moines over the noon-hour as Huckabee officially opened his Iowa campaign headquarters. "By coming to Des Moines and opening up a headquarters, we have put a flag in the ground and said: ‘We’re serious. We’re here to stay and we’re here to play,’" Huckabee says. "…We still believe that the people of America and including the people of Iowa are looking for a candidate that they can believe in, that they can get behind, that they can trust to be consistent and trust to be authentic."
Listen to Huckabee’s remarks by clicking on the audio link below.