BURLINGTON, IOWA – "I don't know how it's going to turn out. I wouldn't try to predict," Mike Huckabee told a crowd of 175 today.
"I know over the past several days, there's been a lot of negative stuff thrown at us. Sometimes, you know, that gets you a little nervous."
In a more hopeful tone, Huckabee added that if he wasn't "catching flak," then he wasn't "over the target."
Huckabee said about 250 to 300 volunteers who had arrived from all over the country to place 13,000 phone calls from the Des Moines office yesterday.
Visibly tired, Huckabee struggled to keep up the energy at an 8:30am event. Huckabee arrived from Los Angeles at 1:30am last night - after taping "The Tonight Show" - and he was a guest on The Early Show on CBS today.
"Over the past few months, we have enjoyed getting a wonderful opportunity to make friends here," said Huckabee at the beginning of his speech. "It occurred to me as I was trying to sleep last night and not doing a very good job of it, that one of the saddest things about this evening is that it's going to be a while probably before we're back. We're going to be back because this fall, Iowa's going to be a battleground state. I'm going to be the nominee and I'm going to be in Iowa."
Before Huckabee arrived, Newt Gingrich's spokesman Rick Tyler asked the audience for a show of hands on how many people planned to vote for him. Less than half the audience – mostly in the front rows – raised their hands.
There was a range of reactions when Huckabee arrived – in the front, one woman jumped up and down screaming, waving her sign. In the back of the room: polite clapping. Everyone stood up when he entered.