Then-underdog McCain tied former Sen. Fred Thompson for third in Iowa, with each candidate garnering 13 percent of the vote.
Riding the Iowa win, Huckabee headed to New Hampshire, where he was down in the polls. For the five days leading up to the Republican primary, Huckabee shook every hand he could, taking advantage of just about any opportunity for free media in the Granite State.
He surprised many with a third place finish in New Hampshire, at 26 percent, behind McCain's 37 percent and Romney's 32 percent, and beating Giuliani by a decent margin.
The southern states that followed were Huckabee's strong suit: he spoke the language of the electorate, and drew on the shared, common experiences that resonated with voters.
Huckabee was poised for a strong, possibly winning finish in South Carolina, when his campaign made a questionable decision to make a series of stops in Michigan — rival Romney's home state.
As expected, Huckabee placed third in Michigan and went back to South Carolina to finish what he had started.
Primary day in South Carolina proved interesting from both a political and meteorological standpoint.
Snowy weather in Huckabee-friendly districts, and tough competition from Thompson, led to a disappointing South Carolina loss, as Huckabee finished with 30 percent, trailing McCain's 33 percent.
The campaign then turned farther south, to Florida.
The Sunshine State was never Huckabee's to win, and while his supporters there remained fervent, the South Carolina loss had the chattering classes convinced that Huckabee was on the ropes — a claim he would deny over and over in the weeks that followed.
Huckabee's fourth-place Florida finish — behind McCain, Romney and Giuliani — and lack of subsequent momentum heading into Super Tuesday were thought to be the final nail in the campaign's coffin. But Huckabee would not go so quietly into the night.
Huckabee would visit seven southern states in seven days, his strategy now to carry the South and prove his viability in Republican strongholds, who turned voices to votes against McCain's brand of conservatism, in favor of Huckabee's.
Huckabee surprised many, winning Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, West Virginia and his home state of Arkansas.
Following Romney's withdrawal from the race on Feb. 7, the southern string would soon turn the race into a two-man battle, with McCain leading by a substantial margin.
Surprising wins in Kansas and Louisiana kept Huckabee afloat for a while, but could not sustain his campaign once McCain gained an insurmountable delegate lead.
Huckabee made his last stand in Texas.
Recalling the famous battle of the Alamo in which Texas rebels staged a fierce fight against Mexico for independence, the insurgent former governor often quoted a letter by Texas commander William Barrett Travis: "The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken -- I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, and our flag still waves proudly from the walls."
Huckabee spent a few arduous days flying all over the state but in the end it would not prove enough to overcome the McCain's momentum. Huckabee's crowds fluctuated significantly from a rally at Texas A&M with about 900 in the room and another 1500 watching from outside to a morning rally at Southern Methodist University in Dallas that drew less than 200.
ABC News' Martha Raddatz contributed to this report.