From NBC/NJ's Adam Aigner-Treworgy
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – With no paid staffers in the entire state of
Michigan and two opponents with strong claims to frontrunner-status
here, Mike Huckabee left Michigan today with some reasons to be
confident about Tuesday's primary.
Huckabee's event last night at the Birch Run Expo Center – held with
only a little over 24 hours notice – drew a crowd of nearly 1,000 very
enthusiastic supporters. At this morning's rally in Grand Rapids,
Huckabee addressed more than 600 people and received the endorsement of
Michigan state Rep. Fulton Sheen, a former faith and values committee
chair for Mitt Romney's Michigan campaign.
Prior to this morning's rally, Huckabee addressed a dining hall full of
more than 100 church leaders, during which he implored the group to use
their contacts in the community to get out the vote for him on Tuesday.
Too bad this is Huckabee's first trip to Michigan as a legitimate
national candidate, and too bad it came only four days before Election
Day. Senior advisor for the Huckabee campaign Ed Rollins said that the
campaign believes that if they had one more week they could really turn
this state around, but they don't have one more week and it would be
dangerous for the campaign to forget about South Carolina, where they
have a much better shot at first place.
Still Huckabee campaigned here this morning, and will be back on Sunday afternoon for a last minute effort to surprise people here with a competitive showing at the polls. A big part of his shot at such a surprise may be evangelical leaders across the state who can act as pseudo-campaign workers as long as they act independently and not as a part of any official church.
"I'm not going to ask you to get up in your pulpit and use your pulpit to endorse me, because I think the only person you ought to endorse from your pulpit is Jesus, and you don't need to endorse me there," Huckabee said at this morning's pastor's breakfast.
"But most of you have email lists or phone call lists or you have – as an individual, you are unrestricted in what you do as an individual, not using the facilities or the nuances of your church, but as an individual because you've got great influence.
"And I'm asking you to help get people to think about this election…in terms of direction of where this country's going to go and whether or not it's going to be led by people who share that Judeo-Christian value and ethic or whether they do not."
Huckabee later told reporters that he 'hopes' to win Michigan but he "wouldn't go out on a limb" and say he will win like he has done in South Carolina.
"It's not that we can come in and blanket the state with hundreds of thousands of dollars and, you know, just an incredible blitz of paid personnel," Huckabee said. "We have to have people that just want to go out there as unpaid foot soldiers and get people out to the polls.
"I hope pastors go out [and vote]. There's a natural connection, not because of pastors, but because of conviction on the life and marriage issues and the family issues that I think are very important to them and important to me."