By Daniel Johnson, Sports Editor
With movie star Chuck Norris at his side, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee pleaded Monday for Abilenians’ votes in Tuesday’s Texas Republican Primary in front of a small crowd of supporters.
Huckabee has been criticized for remaining in the Republican race because of a large lead by frontrunner Sen. John McCain. But Monday at the Big Country Hall of the Taylor County Expo Center, he was confident that Texas would help him force a vote at the Republican National Convention.
“There were a lot of folks around the country who didn’t think you guys oughta show up and vote,” Huckabee said to the crowd of about 300. “Folks, it ain’t over ’til Texas says it’s over . You don’t tell people in Texas what they’re going to do.”
Huckabee and Norris, the star of “Walker Texas Ranger,” disregarded the national media’s claim that Huckabee had little to no chance of winning the nomination, and some supporters shared the two’s sentiment.
“Everyone ought to run just as long as they can; everyone has that right,” said Jack Grant, Abilene resident and ACU alumnus. “The people have a right to hear a candidate.”
Huckabee spent the majority of the almost 45 minutes he spent on stage explaining his conservative platform and why he was the only “true conservative” left in the race.
Huckabee’s biggest example was his fair-tax plan, which he claimed would solve the problems of the current income tax system.
“As we say in Arkansas, if you can’t fix it with WD-40 and Duck Tape, it cannot be fixed,” Huckabee said of the current tax system.
Huckabee proposed a 23-percent tax on consumption rather than the current system that taxes production, something he said is one of the main reasons American families are struggling.
“Folks, if we keep adding tax burdens to working families in this country, we’re not going up, we’re going down,” Huckabee said.
Huckabee touted his executive experience as Arkansas governor and painted himself as a Washington outsider, citing the fact that he did not have a Washington address. Huckabee said the nominees left in the race did not represent the conservative agenda. And for some in the crowd, Huckabee’s rhetoric resonated.
“He stands for the right things like faith and family,” said Abilene resident Dorothy Lambur. “I hate abortion.”
For others, being part of the process was a good enough reason to attend.
“This is one of the most heated political races we’ve seen, and I just wanted to come be a part of it,” said Tony Godfrey, freshman political science major from Burleson.
The former governor lived up to his informal reputation on the campaign trail by telling his supporters to, “let the air out of the tires,” of people who aren’t voting for him, and by saying he would make Norris both the Secretary of Defense and Homeland Security.
“My answer to border security, two words, Chuck Norris,” Huckabee said when introducing the action star.
Norris received as loud of a cheer as Huckabee when he walked onto the stage and garnered just as many photos with fans after the event. But Norris wasn’t there just for the pictures.
“John McCain is not going to be able to out-debate (Democratic frontrunner Barack) Obama,” Norris said. “There’s only one man who can out-debate Obama and that’s Mike Huckabee.”
Huckabee even poked fun at an unofficial debate between Arkansas and Texas Barbeque at a press conference following his speech, saying he “retracted every bit” of a statement he made on the campaign trail that, “Texans go out, they burn a bunch of beef and they call it barbecue.”
Huckabee said he prefers pork.