Huckabee Angling for Debate With McCain

From CBS News' Joy Lin:

John McCain may have told reporters he "doubts" he will have time to engage Mike Huckabee in a debate before the March 4 primaries, but Huckabee said he hopes the Arizona senator "reconsiders" since it is in "voter's interests to have that forum."

Huckabee challenged McCain to a Lincoln-Douglas style debate on Tuesday. Upon word that McCain had used as one of his excuses that he hadn't been invited to any, the Huckabee campaign made sure he received a few, including an invite to a Values Voter Presidential Debate which Huckabee has already accepted.

The former Arkansas governor spoke with reporters in a conference call before jumping on a plane for Texas.

Asked whether McCain should stop sending money until the FEC rules he can get out of the public finance system, Huckabee said it was an "interesting question" he couldn't answer but a court might. He underscored the notion that the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill was one of the "worst things that ever happened to politics" and it may very well be that "the law the senator pushed comes back to bite him."

McCain's FEC dilemma, Huckabee argued, is just another example of an undetermined GOP nominee since there are questions whether McCain's campaign can be "active between now and September."

Asked whether he will staying in the race no matter the outcome next Tuesday, Huckabee dodged the question by maintaining he is staying in the race until a candidate secures "1,191 pledged delegates."

"One of the most telling things" about the nomination process, Huckabee said, was that, with all the emphasis on math and it being impossible for him to secure 1,191 delegates, no two news agencies were using the same two delegate counts.

Pressed which count the campaign went by, Huckabee said whichever one looked best for him.

The Tennessee State Republican party recently issued a press release titled "Anti-Semites for Obama" which featured a picture of Barack Obama in traditional Somali dress. Huckabee said he had not seen the release but it was common for politicians to wear something typical to "local custom." Huckabee said photo was "irrelevant" to the presidential race but declined to speculate why the TN GOP made the release.

Questioned whether had received any calls from Texans to drop out of the race, Huckabee said Gov. Rick Perry, R-Tex., was the only one and, in a little jab, said he hoped Perry's endorsement of McCain would be as effective as his endorsement of Rudy Giuliani was.