WH hopeful Huckabee builds evangelical support

Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee builds evangelical support.

ByABC News
November 5, 2007, 7:30 AM

PLANO, Texas -- As the 2008 presidential race heads toward the first nominating contests, Mike Huckabee is getting more news coverage, moving up in polls, and even drawing some attacks from other Republicans.

Now the former Arkansas governor needs enough money to capitalize.

Despite strong showings in a recent Iowa poll and a straw poll of evangelical voters Oct. 20, Huckabee has struggled to raise money to keep up with Mitt Romney, the Republican fundraising leader, and Rudy Giuliani, who tops national surveys for the nomination.

Huckabee spent the weekend raising money in Texas, his second-largest source of donations from July through September. His appearances at churches in Plano and Irving on Sunday also highlighted a strategy of his long-shot White House bid: building support from evangelical Christians who make up a chunk of Iowa's GOP voters.

"We're really grateful for the prosperity of Texas," Huckabee, a former minister, joked after preaching Sunday at Plano's Prestonwood Baptist Church, north of Dallas.

"Historically, there are three tickets out of Iowa," Huckabee said. "First class, business and coach. If you don't get one of those, you go home freight."

Huckabee said his church appearances were not political, though some of his listeners were not so reticent.

"I think he's the most godly of all the candidates," said Susan Pinkerton, a homemaker from Rockwall, Texas.

The sermons stuck to Scripture, though some of Huckabee's lessons could apply to politics. Discussing how he once took bobsledding lessons, Huckabee quoted his young teacher's advice to "steer for the curve ahead forget what's behind you."

Huckabee believes the presidential race is turning his way.

An Oct. 29 Hawkeye Poll put Huckabee third in the nation's first caucus state, with 12.8%, up from 2% in August. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, led with 36.2%, and former New York City mayor Giuliani was at 13.1%. The poll had an error margin of +/-5.8%.

Huckabee's campaign said its online fundraising for October topped $1 million and exceeded by $1 his entire take for July through September. He picked up $100,000 on Saturday at an event in DeSoto, south of Dallas.