PLANO, TEXAS - "The way I look at it, it ain't over until Texas says it's over!" Mike Huckabee said to a boisterous crowd of over 2,500 people that had flattened two collapsable walls to squeeze into the room. "We win Texas and it all changes."
Huckabee is seeking to turn the tide for his campaign by winning over conservative voters here. It didn't hurt that the the enthusiastic crowd that had come to see him had begun lining up at the door over an hour before the event was scheduled to start.
Huckabee supporter Kelly Schackelford introduced the former Arkansas governor by recalling the way Ronald Reagan captured Texas in 1976 even though Gerald Ford had been sweeping the primaries.
With a heavier Southern drawl attuned to the local language, Huckabee said, "You know, I remembered something about Texas. You guys do have an independent streak in you, by golly." The audience cheered. "And boy, am a lovin' it right now. 'Cause I don't think a whole lot of people in Texas cotton up a whole lot to having somebody in Washington sit there on television and telling them how they're going to vote. And I've never known people in Texas say, let's see what the people of New York tell us to do."
Huckabee also made an active effort to attack the Democratic field in a way that asserted his own conservative credentials.
"I know there's some wonderful rhetoric floating out there from Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. But you need to ask yourself, do you want your taxes to up or go down?"
"Down!" the crowd shouted.
"Do you want us to protect life or disregard human life?" Huckabee asked.
"Do you want us to have a strong military or do you want to drop the guns and run for your lives?"
"My friends, I believe we ought to be on the offense and not the defense when it comes to terror. I believe mothers and fathers raise better kids than governments ever will. Governments ought to get off the backs of parents. I am convinced that the best government is the most local government. We don't need Washington telling everybody in Texas how to live, let Texas decide those things for themselves. And the fact is, there's one candidate in this race who's run government and been chief executive and that would be me."