URBANDALE — Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee exhorted his supporters Saturday to help him “shock the world” with an unexpected top-tier finish in Monday’s 2016 leadoff Iowa precinct caucuses.
“We are not just hanging on, we are fighting to the end and I want you to believe that there is a real possibility for a stunning upset,” Huckabee told a gathering of family, friends, elected officials and backers from all over the country who gathered at his headquarters for a final rush of phone calls, door knocking and media interviews aimed at convincing Iowans to support his presidential bid.
Huckabee said he isn’t the only one expecting good things on Monday in a state he called “ground zero” for his campaign the past month. He noted that Gov. Terry Branstad advised earlier in the week for people to keep their eyes on Huckabee as somebody who might post a surprise finish similar to an upset GOP Iowa caucus win he engineered in 2008.
“There is nobody who is a more astute observer of Iowa politics,” said Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor who noted that Branstad has never lost an election in Iowa and currently is the longest-serving U.S. governor in history.
“We’re going to prove that he is not only a great politician, but he is a prophet of biblical proportions,” Huckabee said at the start of his “super Saturday” of campaigning activities that included a visit to a shooting range to “get out a little frustration.” It was his second campaign stop at the Johnston gun shop.
Huckabee has been “all in” in Iowa, where he has visited all 99 counties — some with multiple stops — after he began the final month of campaigning leading up to the Feb. 1 caucuses with the expectation he would have to end among Iowa’s top three finishers to stay in the race for the 2016 GOP nomination.
“Folks, we’ve got a lot of work to do, a short time to do it,” he told his supporters Saturday, “let’s shock the world on Monday night. Let’s come out with a big surprise victory.”
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Huckabee later told reporters he has to be “up in the top of the cluster” but he said expectations are “sky high” for some of the other GOP front-runners which may make them more vulnerable in Monday’s caucus outcome.
“If they don’t end up winning, people are going to say ‘maybe there was just more air that there was juice,’ so that’s an issue for them,” he said.
“For me, we’ve got to exceed the expectations. I think we have a real opportunity to be a contender on Monday night. We could win. It’s not inconceivable at all that a person that nobody is picking to be in the top two or three ends up winning the Iowa caucuses,” he added. “We’ve put most of our resources and investments here in Iowa. I believe we have a shot to pull this off.”