On a cold night in January 2008, then-presidential candidate Mike Huckabee told a cheering crowd, "I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to love a state as much as I love my home state of Arkansas, but tonight I love Iowa a whole lot."

Months before winning the Iowa Caucus, the former Arkansas governor took second place in the 2007 Ames Straw Poll, just after former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

Looking back on that night, former Huckabee campaign manager Chip Saltsman has a warning for GOP 2012 contenders who dismiss the Hawkeye State:

"It's a huge mistake to skip the early primary states, especially Iowa," Saltsman said during a Sunday interview with Fox News.

Saltsman went on to say that first-time presidential candidates "have a lot to gain" in Iowa.

But former New Mexico governor and current primary contender Gary Johnson disagrees. His campaign released a statement this week, saying that Johnson will be in New Hampshire instead of spending more time in Iowa.

Saltsman says if his candidate had taken that route, the campaign would have gone much differently.

"As you saw four years ago, it gave a guy that nobody really knew, Mike Huckabee, a chance to get in the national arena and do pretty well."