Frater Mike Huckabee Visits Tekes and other Supporters in Florida

Frater Mike Huckabee Visits Tekes and other Supporters in Florida

GAINSEVILLE, Fla. - Presidential candidate Frater Mike Huckabee (Beta-Psi, Arkansas State Univ.) swept through Alachua County, Florida on Tuesday to raise money for his campaign.

The former Arkansas governor held a private fundraiser at the Newberry home of Mike Minck, a mortgage lender and former candidate for the Alachua County Commission. Huckabee spoke with reporters after arriving at the Gainesville Regional Airport, but the fundraiser was closed to the media.

Huckabee's visit to Alachua County comes as his campaign is taking new steps to save money, including canceling a plane for reporters and having staffers forgo pay.

Huckabee said the steps should not be taken as signs that he's going to be forced to stop campaigning in Florida.

"We'll be doing events in Florida every day, now through the primary," he said. Huckabee won the Republican caucus in Iowa but has not won a primary or caucus since. Like the rest of the crowded GOP field, he's banking on a solid showing in Florida's Jan. 29 primary to provide momentum for his campaign before 24 states vote the following Tuesday.

Before Huckabee's arrival in Gainesville, former U.S. Sen. and actor Fred Thompson dropped out of the race. Huckabee said he believes he benefits from the decision and Thompson's supporters have already been moving to his campaign.

"It would have been helpful if he'd done this before," he said. "Now if the rest of them drop out, we'll really be happy."

Huckabee was greeted by about 50 people outside the University Air Center at the Gainesville airport. Most were members of the Gamma-Theta Chapter at the University of Florida.

Gamma-Theta chapter Prytanis Chris Dawson said some local members are Huckabee supporters while others came for the opportunity to meet a presidential candidate. He counts himself as a supporter, saying Huckabee's anti-abortion position and likability were among the reasons.

"He's just a personable guy," he said. "He's well-spoken but not to the point where he's telling you what you want to hear."

Huckabee has tried to appeal to young people, enlisting action star Chuck Norris as a campaign regular.

Huckabee posed for pictures with chapter members before leaving for the fundraiser. He was scheduled to fly back to Arkansas after the event and then return to Florida in advance of Thursday's televised debate.

The fundraiser was held at the home of Mark Minck, a mortgage lender at Wachovia Mortgage Corp. who ran as a Republican for County Commission in 2004. Minck lost to Democrat Paula DeLaney by a 60 percent to 40 percent margin.

Huckabee said his campaign will rely on his Web site and events organized through to reduce the high costs of campaigning in Florida.

In an apparent reference to fellow contender and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Huckabee said he has been forced to be frugal "in part because I don't have a big checkbook from which I can write real nice multi-million-dollar checks and cover it."

Huckabee painted a contrast with Romney and other GOP candidates, saying he was the candidate who was strongest on social issues. Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, favors constitutional amendments to outlaw abortion and same-sex marriage.

He said he differed with McCain on the Arizona senator's opposition to a national catastrophic insurance fund. Huckabee said he supported the fund because the impact of hurricanes goes beyond Florida, affecting gas prices and the nation's economy.

"To act like it doesn't matter is to me showing a lack of understanding of how the nation's economy works," Huckabee said.

Huckabee defended the comments he made last week in South Carolina about the display of the Confederate flag at the capitol there. He told supporters, "if someone came to the state of Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we'd tell them where to put the pole - that's what we'd do."

Huckabee said he was merely saying that he thought a decision about the flag should be left up to the state.

"I never defended the flag, I never dissed the flag," he said. "The point is it's none of my business."

Frater Mike won the Iowa straw poll and since that time has finished 2nd in South Carolina, and 3rd place in Michigan, New Hampshire, and Wyoming. The upcoming state primaries in Florida (Jan.29) and Arkansas (Feb. 5) will be key in keeping Frater Mike in the thick of the Republican nomination race.

Adapted from the Gainesville Sun News Article and CNN Election Center Results. If you would like to see your chapter news here, contact Communications Coordinator Tom McAninch.

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