Remarks Following the South Carolina Primary
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. God bless you and thank you. Thank you. Thank you very, very much.
AUDIENCE: Huckabee! Huckabee! Huckabee! Huckabee! Huckabee! Huckabee!
HUCKABEE: Thank you. Thank you.
AUDIENCE: Huckabee! Huckabee!
HUCKABEE: Thank you.
Well, just a few moments ago, I made a phone call to Senator McCain and I offered him my congratulations. I told him that I would much rather prefer that he had called me tonight, but he was very gracious, as we knew he would be, and I was certainly willing to compliment him.
I want to thank him for running a civil and a good and a decent campaign to elevate politics. And he is to be congratulated.
One of the things I'm proud of, those of us, the two of us who finished at the top, ran a campaign with a level of civility, without attacking each other, and even though I would like for the outcome to be just a little different on the top than in the second place, I had rather be where I am and have done it with honor than to have won with the dishonor of getting there by attacking somebody else. And I'm grateful.
I am grateful for the campaign that you have been willing to run with me and grateful for the campaign that he has run as well.
Well, obviously tonight we wanted to come here and to declare a South Carolina victory. We got awful close. Unfortunately, in politics, close doesn't count for the first slot, but it does count.
And the reason that I want to encourage you tonight is to remind you that politics, and particularly this year more than perhaps any other, this is not an event, it is a process. And the process is far, far from over.
Obviously, I'm deeply grateful to our South Carolina team working their hearts out.
To Mike Campbell, our state chairman, his wonderful mother, Iris Campbell, I thank you so very much. God bless you.
To my friend, former governor David Beasley and his wife Mary Wood, once again stuck his neck out and just was able to campaign with me all over this country, and here in South Carolina, and I just want to thank him also for jumping in. And we'll look forward to having him on the trail in other places as well.
For Lieutenant Andre Bauer, and for his willingness to endorse us this week. And in many ways, I believe that we will leave South Carolina not only with incredible numbers of friends, but I believe with a renewed unity in the Republican Party of South Carolina, bringing these two men, Mike Campbell and Andre Bauer, to the same stage. And both of them have an incredibly great future, as does South Carolina, a most wonderful state.
And I'm grateful for all you have done.
I cannot begin to say thanks enough for our staff. These are the people that, honestly, I don't know how many weeks a person can go without sleep, but they are going to test the absolute outer limits of it before this campaign is over.
Most campaigns have three people to one that we have on our staff. And they have just worked not with complaint, but with a commitment that I have never seen ever.
And then the volunteers. Many of you have come here from all over America at your own expense. It's incredible. And we've had people that literally have made phone calls for us, some of whom are in Europe, and they've used their free cell phone weekend minutes to make calls back to South Carolina and encourage people to come vote.
It's been unbelievable.
Let me just say that tonight is not a time to start asking, what if? It's a time to start talking about, what now?
And we're not going to sit around and second guess, well, what if we had done -- what if -- no. You know what? I feel like that our effort here, we gave everything we had.
We left it all on the field. I don't want anyone who worked in this campaign, from our volunteers to our staff, to feel anything other than an extraordinary sense of pride, and also a sense of just sheer joy that we got as far as we did when nobody thought it was even possible for us to be in contention.
Let me tell you and remind you how we got here. It wasn't because we had the most money, the most consultants, the most staff, the most resources, the most polls, the most focus groups. Here is what we had. What we had was we had a message that has connected and continues to connect with people all over this country who have feared that they have been forgotten and have become invisible to many political people.
And they fear that maybe they matter just as much, because what they really want is they want a government that will take the heavy burden of taxation off their backs. They want a government that will start thinking about how much money it's spending and stop it. And finally start acting with some level of sanity when it comes to spending the very dollars they have taken from us.
People want a government that recognizes that mothers and fathers really do raise better children than governments do. And they want a government that leaves them alone so they can raise their children as they see fit, not with the government telling them how.
They want a government who will finally build a fence, secure our borders, and confront the issue not just of illegal immigration, but confront the greater issue that is plaguing so many people in South Carolina and the rest of America, and that is the fear that tomorrow they will lose their jobs and not be able to put food on their table and clothes on their kids' backs.
And for every person out there who is serving the food and driving the trucks and who's sitting in the front of the cabs and not the back seat, for the ones who are on the lines of the factories and climbing up and down the ladders, carrying paint buckets in their hands and hammers, we want to be a campaign that says there is room in the Republican Party for you. And, in fact, the Republican Party is all about making sure that everybody in this country has the best kind of future.
And that message and that mission is far from over tonight. And that's why I don't want us to leave here saying, well, the game has ended. No, we have just finished one of the quarters of play.
My dear friend Clebe McClary, who I love to quote on occasions like this, who is a South Carolinian, I love what he says. He says I have never lost at anything I have ever done. Sometimes the game ends before I get finished playing, but I have never lost at anything I have done.
And ladies and gentlemen, I want you to know we don't lose tonight. The game ended a little early for us. But I also want you to know this -- the path to the White House is not ending here tonight.
We are resetting the clock. We are resetting all of the gauges.
(APPLAUSE) We have learned. And tomorrow, after a little bit of sleep, we wake up to fight the battle yet again and yet again. And I still believe a year from now all of you that have helped us get there will be in Washington for the inauguration of the 44th president of the United States.
Let me say a final word of thanks to my wife Janet and my children.
It's tough to run for office. The only thing more difficult than running for office is to be married to the guy who does. And she has been willing and ready and has given her all, and has never flinched in her undying support for what we're about.
And I want to say to every one of you how much we love you, how much we thank you. The people of South Carolina have been magnificent to us.
Your hospitality, your warmth, your support, your encouragement, the enthusiasm, and everything you have done for us, I just cannot begin to tell you what a deep and wonderful impression you have left with us. Even if we didn't come in first in the results tonight, you have come in first in our hearts by giving us the kind of wonderful experience that everybody in life ought to just once be able to have. I'm even wearing this South Carolina tie tonight. And...
And wearing it with an extraordinary sense of gratitude and pride as a symbol and a reminder of how grateful we are to your wonderful, gifts to us, and your love and your support.
It's on from here. And tomorrow in Texas. Monday in Georgia and Florida. And then on in Florida again.
We have got a lot of miles ahead of us. It's a long process and a long path. But I want to make sure that you know that after you get just a little bit of sleep, we need you back ready, able and willing to take it to the White House.
Thank you. God bless you. Thank you, every one of you. Thank you.
Mike Huckabee, Remarks Following the South Carolina Primary Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/277012