URBANDALE — Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Thursday that Iowa voters still are deciding who they will support Feb. 1 and probably will prove the political experts wrong again in 2016.
Huckabee’s 2016 Republican presidential bid hit a milestone Thursday when he visited his 99th Iowa County — completing a statewide circuit that has become known as the “full Grassley,” a term named for veteran Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who regularly visits all 99 counties annually.
“That’s 99 town hall events since the middle of May,” said Huckabee, the 2008 Iowa caucuses winner, who is holding 150 Iowa events in Iowa this month in an effort to finish strong on caucus night.
He called reaching Keokuk County — his 99th and final county — “a great, exhilarating feeling.”
While other GOP candidates have begun taking political swings at each other as the first voting in the 2016 presidential selection process approaches, Huckabee said he is “swimming in my own lane and focusing on why I should be president.” He said he is competent, experienced, seasoned, tested and fully vetted to be president, having served as the Republican governor of a Democratic state.
Huckabee said his read of Iowa Republicans less than a month out from the caucuses is similar to what he saw in the waning weeks of the 2008 caucus campaign.
“People were not making up their minds until late. I think that’s true every four years, and it seems like national reporters forget,” he told reporters at a rally at his Urbandale campaign headquarters.
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“It’s amazing how many people sitting in the well-lit studios in New York and Washington will pontificate about where Iowa is and where it’s going to go, and they’re wrong every four years,” he said. “And you’d think at some point they might learn the lesson that Iowa voters date everybody in the field, but they don’t put a ring on it until wedding days.”
While some of the Iowans who helped him win in 2008 have sided with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz this election cycle, Huckabee said he still has a lot of the supporters who helped him win eight years ago.
“The rank-and-file people are still there, and we’ve picked up a lot of new folks along the way and hope to do more,” he said.
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