From NBC/NJ's Matthew Berger
LYNCHBURG, Va. -- Huckabee suggested the Republican Party could meet the
same fate as 1976 if it elected a moderate candidate who does not
Speaking at a press conference after
addressing Thomas Road Baptist Church, Huckabee continued to compare
himself to Ronald Reagan, who ran in 1976 against the party
establishment, which led to a floor fight at the national convention.
When reminded that the Republicans lost the 1976, Huckabee said it
wasn't because the party was divided, but because Gerald Ford did not
energize the party.
"He never championed himself as a
conservative, not a pro-life person for whom that was important,"
Huckabee said. "He was a really nice moderate Republican, a true
gentleman. But a member of Congress and more a part of the Washington
Republican establishment than representing the grassroots of
And in a thinly veiled reference to McCain, Huckabee went on to say Republicans could lose again with a similar candidate.
would argue that if we do not have a candidate who can excite the base
of this country, and particularly the base of our party and make them
energetic and going out and getting the folks to put the yard signs in
and making phone calls and traveling all over the country asking people
to vote, we can lose again," he said.
Jerry Falwell Jr., the chancellor and president of Liberty University,
Huckabee acknowledged that he was surprised by his success on Saturday.
frankly we were very surprised," Huckabee said. "And we weren't
confident of anything like that kind of victory in Kansas. We felt we
were doing well in Kansas and I thought we would win Kansas. I thought
it would be close."
He also said "all bets are off" if no candidate gets enough votes to secure the Republican nomination.
have party officials who wrote the rules," he said. "I'm playing by the
rules that somebody else wrote. The very people that are asking me to
step aside wrote the rules and now want to suspend and ask us not to go
vote. Now they either need to change the rules so they can fix this so
700 votes, or 700 delegates gets the nomination, or don't create a set
of rules that requires 1,191."