Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee says he’ll spend much of the month of July campaigning in Iowa in hopes of building support for the Iowa Republican Party’s Straw Poll August 11th.
"I think it’s a milestone for us, without a doubt. I don’t think I have to win the Straw Poll, but I think I have to do well," Huckabee says.
Huckabee isn’t declaring he’ll be finished as a candidate if he finishes poorly in the August contest, but Huckabee says a bottom-of-the-pack ranking would cause him to re-evaluate his race.
Evangelical Christians, those who advocate a national sales tax to replace the income tax and home schoolers are among those being targeted by Huckabee’s campaign as what Huckabee describes as "true believers" who will help attract others to support him in the Straw Poll.
"I’m not tailoring the message any particular way because those are constituencies that largely have joined with me because they know of the consistency that I have both in my record as a governor, but also in my comments," the former Arkansas governor says. "There’s no YouTube out there of me taking very different positions on critical issues whether it’s the sanctity of life or the Second Amendment or tax policy, etc."
Huckabee rival Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, has been criticized for changing his positions on the issues Huckabee raises.
During a Friday afternoon telephone news conference with reporters, Huckabee announced he has collected "substantially" more money in the second quarter of this year than he did in the first. "Our goal has always been to make sure we had enough gas in the tank to stay on the track and we’re going to be there. We’ll have enough money to play in the Straw Poll," Huckabee says. "…We certainly know we’re going to pass, substantially, where we were last time and that’s good news for us."
Huckabee, however, was only willing to talk in general terms about his fundraising. "We can actually go to the ‘grande’ level of the Starbucks cup instead of the ‘tall,’" Huckabee joked.
Huckabee is one of three GOP candidates campaigning in Iowa today. Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo plans to hold a town hall meeting on immigration tonight in Des Moines. Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson will make an appearance on Iowa Public Television this evening.
On Saturday afternoon, five Republican candidates will appear separately at a forum in Des Moines that’s co-sponsored by Iowans for Tax Relief and the Iowa Christian Alliance. Afterwards, Ron Paul — a candidate who was not invited to the forum — will host a rally in downtown Des Moines.