In the ballroom here at the Renaissance Hotel, loyal Huckabee supporters hold signs that say “I Like Mike.” Some wear t-shirt that say “Texans Want Huckabee.” Just a few days ago, Democratic hopeful Barack Obama filled Toyota Center. This rally will be lucky to break a couple of hundred supporters. That doesn’t discourage Kari Fernandez lives in Conroe.
“You know, he’s made a committment and you don’t quit. I teach my son all the time you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to do your best and you don’t ever give up. You just keep going until it’s over. I think that is a lesson that we all need to learn, that things get hard, but you make a choice and you make a decision and you stick with it. You see it through.”
Brett Walton brought his wife and daughter to the rally. He says he hasn’t been this excited about a candidate since Ronald Reagan.
“It’s reminding me of back when I was 18 and I registered vote and voted for Ronald Reagan. It was a very proud and it’s a moment that I talk about with my family still. And now that I’ve got a family of my own, this brings that back, so we’ve come full-circle.”
The former Arkansas Governor is a longshot, falling far behind GOP frontrunner John McCain. He says despite the odds, he wants to the voters to hear his message.
“This is not something one does for ego or for some false sense of glamour or glory, because there isn’t any, and if there is it’s gone in about 15 minutes. So I want to be real straight with you. I’m doing this because I really love this country and I worry about its future and I look at the people who are offering themselves and the ideas they’re putting forth and what I see is a whole bunch of the same.”
Despite the slim turnout here and a huge gap to close between now and March 4th, Huckabee says he’s not quitting.
“Why would we leave before the game is finished? It doesn’t make any sense to me. I’ve spent my whole life fighting from the underdog position. I’ve never been in a position where I started at the top. I always started at the bottom and I never got where I got by quitting.”
Huckabee didn’t have much to say about a New York Times article about an alleged relationship between John McCain and a female lobbyist during McCain’s last run for president.
“I’ve campaigned now on the same stage and platform with John McCain for 14 months. I only know him to be a man of integrity. Today he denied that any of that was true. I take him at his word. I have no further comment other than that. I think for me to get into it is completely inmaterial. Again, I only know him for what I know him to be and that’s a good and decent and honorable man.”
Huckabee says Texas is a crucial state for him and he’ll be back here in Houston several times before the March 4th primaries.