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Mike Huckabee says conservatives may have to get behind Romney

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa presidential caucus with the backing of social conservatives in 2008, is hinting that it may be time for conservative Republicans to get behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's candidacy.

"Mitt Romney may not be their first choice, but Mitt Romney every day of the week and twice on Sunday is going to be a much more effective president for issues that they care about than Barack Obama," Huckabee said Sunday in an interview with WABC. "I think sometimes there is this anxiety within the Republican Party of who is the perfect candidate. The answer is there isn't one."

He continued to say that conservatives have to decide "who can survive" the campaign process. "And whoever that is, if it's Mitt Romney, then I think Republicans and conservatives and the Tea Party need to get behind him and say, 'You may not be our first choice, but between you and Obama, I'll vote 40 times to get you elected.'"

Romney placed a distant second behind Huckabee in the 2008 Iowa caucuses, even though Romney invested significant time and resources into the state, which holds the nation's first nominating contest. But a poll of likely Iowa caucusgoers released last week that so far, the Iowa nomination is up for grabs.

Huckabee, still popular among Iowa conservatives, could help Romney secure a victory there January 3. The former Arkansas governor is premiering a documentary about the moral issues surrounding abortion in Iowa on December 14 and has invited the eight GOP presidential candidates there to discuss the issue, the Des Moines Register reports.

While some conservatives are wary of the evolution of Romney's position on abortion rights, Huckabee defended Romney on Fox News earlier this month.

"Mitt Romney himself will point out that Ronald Reagan was pro-choice at one point in his life and then became pro-life, as did George H.W. Bush," he said. "So it's not uncommon for people to change a position."

Romney has held his cards closely when it comes to his strategy in Iowa, but he told reporters over the weekend, "We intend to play in Iowa. I want to do very well there."

This week, he quietly opened a campaign office in Des Moines, and he has plans to return to the state on Wednesday.

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