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Mike Huckabee on Iowa Straw Poll

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," August 13, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Our next guest made a real strong showing in Saturday's GOP straw poll, and joining us now from Little Rock is former Arkansas governor, 2008 presidential contender, our good friend, Mike Huckabee, is back with us.

Governor, look, there were two winners yesterday. Obviously, Mitt Romney had a huge day. He went for it, wanted to win, and he won by a big margin. You came in second and surprised a lot of people, a very strong showing. What happened? What was the dynamic?

FORMER GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE, R-ARK.: People were responding to the message. You know, it really was a David-Goliath moment. We went out there with a smooth stone and a sling and a whole lot of hardy volunteers, some of whom drove 600 miles to be there. It was truly incredible. And we had very little money, but we had the message, the fair tax, consistent conservative views on things like sanctity of life. People responded to that. Newt Gingrich last week had said that I was a top-tier candidate, and I think Saturday validated that.

HANNITY: You know, I would actually agree with you. I would expect, Governor, that your poll numbers will be up significantly as a result of this. There's some momentum building here. Does it make it different because Rudy Giuliani wasn't there, Senator McCain wasn't there? Does that take a little bit of the victory away, or do you think it's just as good as if they were?

HUCKABEE: It absolutely takes nothing away, because what they did was forfeit the game. When you walk off the field because you don't think you're going to win, you forfeit. It's still a loss. The fact is, they're not playing well in Iowa. They didn't make the straw poll because they knew that, if they did, it would not be a very happy moment for them.

HANNITY: South Carolina is moving up their date, I believe it's January 14th. There's now a likelihood that Iowa is going to be in very early January or they might even push it back to December of this year. We have this accelerated process. How does this impact strategy, in terms of running for president? Because you've got Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, and this super Super Tuesday?

HUCKABEE: We've got to raise a lot of money, for one thing. But the good news for us is, if these early states move up, people like Mike Campbell (ph) and the Campbell family in South Carolina, former Governor David Beasley, they are the leadership team there and wonderful people. We have a great team in New Hampshire. I'm very confident we're going to surprise people in New Hampshire just like we did Iowa. More and more, people are beginning to focus, not so much on how much money have you raised, but they're saying, what kind of ideas are you going to raise? What are you going to do about health care and education? And that's what connected in Iowa. And the reason those folks came there and stood in 100- degree heat and many of them bought their own tickets, we didn't have a whole lot to offer them, other than Hope, Arkansas, watermelon and music from my band, Capital Offense. You know, but they wanted to be there.

BOB BECKEL, GUEST CO-HOST: Governor, one of the things, the missing trio that were there, I've done Iowa five times in the presidential campaigns, and people in Iowa don't like people not to be there and things like that, so I think that's another big advantage for you. But let me ask you, first of all, who came up with the line, "I can't pay for you, I can't even rent you"?

HUCKABEE: That was my line. I thought about it when I was out on an early-morning run Saturday before I went up to the straw poll, and I was thinking, "How could I compete with these people who were spending millions of dollars on this day and we're spending less than $90,000 on the day?" And I realized, you know what? The Iowa people, what makes them really important in this race is that they're politically savvy. You can't buy them. And then it occurred to me, you can't even rent them for the day.

BECKEL: Well, you know, I'll tell you, there's been some criticism of you, which I think is personally wrong, which is that your humor could get you into some trouble. You know how presidential candidates are always being careful about what they say. Now, when I want my daughter to go to sleep, I have her watch a Republican presidential debate. The only thing that...

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: Ouch.

BECKEL: I know, ouch.

HANNITY: That Hillary's a real barnstormer.

BECKEL: Keeps you up, doesn't she? But let me go back to this point. I think the reverse. In this kind of field of, frankly, not too many exciting or interesting people, not to mention not many humorists, your humor works for you, doesn't it?

HUCKABEE: Well, I think so. I mean, even kids would rather have their oatmeal with a little cinnamon in it. And I think most Americans, if they're going to watch a debate or if they think they're going to vote for somebody, they want to vote for somebody who's a real person, who lives a real life, and is not so scripted. You know, people around me are always saying, "What are you going to say?" And I say, "I'm not going to tell you, because you'll tell me not to say it."

But I don't want to be a person whose candidacy is marked by a roomful of consultants that script every word and make sure that I don't say something that's off the cuff. I think the American people are looking for somebody who's got a little bit of candor. And you know what? I'm going to say some probably stupid things along the way. That's going to happen.

HANNITY: Hey, Governor...

HUCKABEE: But I'd rather say something, you know, a little crazy at times, but say something, than just be a programmed candidate.

HANNITY: You know what? And I think obviously it's serving you well, and I do enjoy the sense of humor, especially the joke about John Edwards' hair. That was my favorite of all time. Good to see you, Governor. Congratulations.

HUCKABEE: Thanks, Sean. Thanks, Bob.

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