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Huck show to McCain: Debate me

From NBC/NJ's Matthew Berger
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Huckabee said his campaign has been asking the McCain campaign to debate them and suggested questions surrounding McCain's adherence to campaign finance laws raises doubts about his viability.

Speaking at a press conference that drew no reporters other than the six who travel with the candidate -- despite the national press corps in town for the Democratic debate -- the candidate said he wants to debate McCain.

"There's a race going on, and I wish Sen. McCain was debating me this weekend," Huckabee said. "I wish we were gonna be in Cleveland tonight on stage or in Dallas or in Houston or San Antonio or Austin or somewhere between now and Tuesday having a debate."

He said Republicans deserve a debate and that he was "disappointed" a forum between the remaining candidates hadn't been planned.

"We've made it very clear that we would love to have," he said, "whether it's a debate or a forum or Q and A, where both of us are there. I think any type of format would be acceptable to us and any location would be acceptable to us."

Huckabee said the race remained open while the McCain questions about his spending were in the air. "What can John McCain actually spend?" Huckabee asked. "And he seems to be almost being bitten by his own campaign finance reform act, and there are a lot of issues to be settled with what happens in his spending limits."

Huckabee added that McCain may have to "go completely dark between virtually now and the nomination convention."

Huckabee did not hold a public event in Cleveland, but did receive a private tour of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, before traveling to Columbus and Mason for rallies as well as a fundraiser in Dayton.