LITTLE ROCK, ARK. -- It's almost become a matter of course for Mike Huckabee: receiving the results of a primary night loss in his hometown, following that up with a call to McCain, appearing before reporters to insist he's marching on, and ending the night with cable TV interview on why he's decided to stay in the race.
"One of the questions I get asked everyday…is why do you keep going? And I know that's a question [to which] people try to come up with their own answers. And some have even suggested the reason I keep going is maybe just some ego trip. Let me assure you," Huckabee said to reporters, "if it were ego, my ego doesn't enjoy getting these kind of evenings where we don't win the primary elections."
"So, it's gotta be something other than that, and it is. It's about convictions, it's about principles that I dearly, dearly believe in. It's about believing that the message of pro life – standing firm and unflinchingly for a human life amendment – is an important discussion we must have in our Republican party and frankly must have in our nation."
Huckabee also said his advocacy for the so-called "Fair Tax" is "not something I decided would be a nice little election year position to take," but rather part of a sincere belief that the tax overhaul would dramatically help to retool the economy for its betterment.
"We're going to keep marching on, not just because of nothing else to do, but primarily because there is a message that still needs to be heard in this country, there are people who have a right to vote, there are states who have patiently waited while other states have gone in front of them, and they should have as much of a voice the process of selecting the nominee as have the states that win early."
Huckabee said he was "disappointed" by the preliminary results out of Wisconsin, which showed him trailing behind McCain by double-digits, enough for the Networks to call the Wisconsin primary for his opponent minutes after polls closed. But in a light-hearted way, he brushed off the bad news by noting, well, at least he wouldn't have to follow through with a pledge to wear a cheese head should he have won.
Huckabee said the margin of the loss in Wisconsin was surprising but, he kept it in perspective, because the campaign had to confront "every single day, every hour, every few minutes of every hour, news reports keep, in essence, saying, it's over, there's no mathematical way."
"What I have to remind individual voters that their voice and their vote still count and that nobody can take that away from them unless they, just simply, give it away. That's why we need to continue on and especially through Texas. Polls there show us very close and almost in a statistical dead heat."
"To all those people who have voted for me and who have stood faithfully with us…to Texas we go," he said, "And Texas is a state where independence matters a lot. People there don't like to be told what to do, how to think, and how to vote."
The candidate plans to visit the Alamo in San Antonio on Thursday, and a reporter asked if Texas would become the Alamo for the Huckabee campaign.
"Well, we'll see," Huckabee said. "There is a lot of symbolism. The Alamo is an amazing place, and I've been there on many occasions. I never go to San Antonio when I don't try to go there. I always read the speech by William Barrett Travis who perhaps made one of the most courageous stands of any American I can think of.
Perhaps in a way indicative of how he sees his own campaign, Huckabee said, "People sometimes think of the Alamo as a defeat but it actually was the springboard to Texas victory and independence. Had it not been for the Alamo, there would not have been a Republic of Texas, so there is a lot of history there -- history of courage and valor and also of people who stood by their convictions no matter what."
"And even when Travis and the people of the Alamo knew what might be an inevitable fate, they did not flinch and they did not waver in their commitment because they knew what they were doing was not about them. They knew that it was about something much larger then themselves and that's why I think when we go to Texas, we go with a real sense of resolve and purpose and direction and, you know, a commitment to see it through."
Asked if people would be saying "Remember Huckabee" the same way they say "Remember the Alamo," Huckabee said, "I don't know, we'll see how that works out. This time, you know, the Alamo story may turn out differently, so we're going to hope for the hope."