Huckabee triumphant

In his victory speech Tuesday night, a resurgent Mike Huckabee looked confidently ahead and took the opportunity to poke his detractors slightly.

Published February 6, 2008 4:00AM (EST)

In the weeks after his victory in the Iowa caucuses, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was all but written off by observers of the race for the Republican presidential nomination. But on Super Tuesday, he came back, hard, and in his victory speech Tuesday night, he made sure to remind his detractors of that.

"Over the past few days, a lot of people have been trying to say that this is a two-man race," Huckabee observed at the start of his speech. "Well, you know what? It is! And we're in it!"

Huckabee then went on to cite -- fittingly for the former Baptist preacher and favorite candidate of much of the evangelical community -- two religious references in explaining his victory. "Tonight, we are making sure America understands that sometimes one small smooth stone is even more effective than a whole lot of armor," he said. "And we've also seen that 'the widow's mite' has more effectiveness than all the gold in the world."

Huckabee stuck largely to familiar themes from his campaign. He emphasized his support for the Fair Tax, a plan that would abolish the IRS and replace the income tax with a flat sales tax, for the Second Amendment and for stronger immigration enforcement. And he continued to speak to his conservative Christian base. "We're here tonight and winning states across the South because we've stood for the idea that mothers and fathers raise better kids than governments do. And government ought to undergird a family, not undermine a basic family's (sic) rights to raise their own kids," Huckabee said. "And one of the reasons that we're here tonight is because there's no candidate who has been more consistent and clear about the fact that we should honor the words of our forefathers who said all of us are created equal. And that means that every single person has intrinsic worth and value. And we should uphold the sanctity of human life because it is a cornerstone of our culture of life."

But Huckabee diverted from his standard message, too, in order to deliver a little jab at conservative pundits who, in opposing Sen. John McCain for the nomination and endorsing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, have attacked Huckabee as little more than a spoiler hurting Romney on beahlf of McCain. "Today has been a day when the people have spoken. And today people across this country are saying that, yes, we heard what the pundits said. But this is our vote, not theirs. This is our election, not theirs. This is our presidency, not theirs," Huckabee said.

Speaking barely cryptically, through coded sports references, Huckabee also predicted that he'd win the Republican primaries in Alabama, Georgia, Missouri and Tennessee. As of the time this post was written, that prediction looked prescient.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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