Mike Huckabee on Quitting

This is a rush transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," February 12, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, you know, that is just the kind of talk my next guest likes to hear.

On the phone with us right now is the Republican presidential candidate himself, Governor Mike Huckabee.

Governor, Star Parker says you have a great shot at all of this. Do you?

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think I do. I think Star is right. You should listen to her. She's telling you some truth.

And, you know, there's several ways that this thing could play out; one, we could get these extraordinary votes; number two, it could be that none of us get enough to have the nomination and it goes to the convention, and then it's anybody's opportunity; the third thing is anything can happen in this campaign.

You know, candidates are sailing along and doing great. One day they may say something, they may do something, some issue may come up and the whole situation can change.

Here's what I know, Neil. The path to victory is very complicated, and, frankly, it is pretty daunting. The path to defeat is real easy. All I have to do is walk off the field. I have never taken the easy way out in my life. And I wouldn't be talking to you today as the only other person remaining on the field if I had taken the easy way out.

CAVUTO: Let me ask you, Governor, a lot of people say everything would have to fall into place for you to win this thing, including convincing Governor Mitt Romney's 200-plus delegates to go your way.

Have you had conversations with Governor Romney to do and get just that?

HUCKABEE: We talked after his withdrawal from the race, but I did not mention to him about his delegates or try to persuade him of that. I didn't feel that that was appropriate at the time and don't even feel that it's appropriate now. I mean, that's something he would have to decide.

But the bigger issue is that the party themselves set the rules for what it takes to become the nominee. It really just amazes me that some of the very people who were part of the party process now want to act like, why don't you just forget those rules, that it takes 1,191, and just give up?

Well, I agree with Star that there are a lot of people across the country who have yet to vote. I think their voice needs to be heard. They know that I take a strong stand and will be a leader on the human life amendment, on fixing the border and getting it secure. They know that I'm going to be a strong leader when it comes to issues like the Fair Tax.

And, quite frankly, they would like to be able to go out and vote for somebody so that we can keep that message alive and keep the hope alive that I might still be their president.

CAVUTO: Is there also thinking to this, Governor, that you arrive at the convention, whether you have acquired those delegates or not, or by that time, Senator McCain has, that you're the lone other survivor and that something is owed you and certainly owed your views?

What do you make of that?

HUCKABEE: Well, I don't think you can hold the nominee hostage. I don't believe in that and wouldn't attempt to do it. I certainly want to be able to exhibit that there's a lot of strength.

Part of the support that I get, Neil, comes from the fact that I champion small-business owners, something the Republicans used to do and haven't done enough of lately.

I think a lot of people also realize that I am the voice for the middle class, and sometimes what I call the invisible class of America seem to be forgotten, the people that drive the trucks and lift the heavy boxes and do the work that other people don't necessarily enjoy doing, but the work that keeps America moving every day.

And it's important that the Republican Party never becomes a party of the folks at the head table and not include the folks working in the kitchen and serving the food.

CAVUTO: Well, have the folks at the head table, Governor, been telling you, in fact, "All right, Governor, you put on one heck of a race; you're a lot further along than almost anyone thought you would be, but, as Governor Romney had said in his concession speech, it is time to step down"?

HUCKABEE: Well, the supporters of John McCain have told me that. None of my supporters have said that; not one, Neil — not one.

CAVUTO: Any other power party players, though, Governor, have said, "Look, you know, for the benefit of the party unity," you know,?

HUCKABEE: Well, Karl Rove said it. Karl Rove said it, but he's a maximum donor to John McCain. So, you know, I have had some governors and others who have called, but they're all supporters and endorsers of John McCain.

I have not had a person who's a true independent, a completely objective person, nor none of my supporters, who have come to me publicly or privately and said, "I think you're hurting the party."

In fact, let me tell you something. If — if having competition in an open election hurts the party, then our party is more damaged than any damage I could do to it. If our party is so weak, that it cannot withstand even some slight debate within itself, then how is it going to withstand the debate it's going to get when it goes up against Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama?

If you can't run with the horsemen — or if you can't run with the footman, what will you do when the horsemen come, is the old saying. And I just think it's absurd when I hear people act like that our party is so hemorrhaged that we better just make sure that we put the bandage around the only candidate that we have got that can go out there.

Look, if everybody is that afraid, I'm willing to, today, go out there and take on Obama or Hillary and to do it and carry the debate all the way to the convention.

CAVUTO: Let me ask you what you have heard from Senator McCain. And even as far as debates, he seems to be — you know, he's not saying anything bad about you, Governor. His people, obviously, are privately telling you to stop it.

But has there been any talk back and forth about the running mate slot, anything like that?

HUCKABEE: No, none at all. Our conversations are very cordial.

And, by the way, I think it's pretty noteworthy that the two most civil campaigns in the Republican primary are the ones still standing. We both have had mutual respect for one another...

CAVUTO: Yes, but you're not debating, right? I mean, he obviously doesn't want to just keep this festering, so he's not even debating you, right?

HUCKABEE: Well, I'm ready. If anybody will offer us an opportunity, I would more than willingly jump at it. Maybe your network would give us some time sometime between now and the Wisconsin primary.

CAVUTO: But what do you read into that, Governor, that he isn't debating you? You might have a nice relationship. You might respect each other, but he seems to want to bury you by ignoring you.

HUCKABEE: I don't blame him. I mean, that's what I would do, probably, if the situation were reversed. But the people aren't ignoring me.

I have had record crowds when I have gone out and done these rallies in Virginia, MikeHuckabee.com is getting more hits than it ever has, and we have had record contributions in the last 10 days in the entire history of the campaign.

So, despite some people's feeling that we're just pretty well boxing things up and getting ready to shut it down, somebody forgot to tell our supporters that it was over, because they're quite wired up about it.

CAVUTO: All right, Governor Huckabee. you have run a remarkable campaign. No one could take that away from you.

Continued success. Thank you very much, sir.

HUCKABEE: Thank you, Neil.

CAVUTO: All right, Governor Mike Huckabee.

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