By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff
MANCHESTER – Mike Huckabee said he was happy to come in third in New Hampshire tonight after having won the Iowa caucuses last week, and he vowed to go on to win the Republican nomination for president.
Huckabee appeared at 9 p.m. to tell his supporters that he had called Senator John McCain of Arizona and former governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts to congratulate them on coming in ahead of him tonight. With about a third of precincts reporting, Huckabee had 12 percent of the vote.
“Tonight we’re going to come out of here with continued momentum,” Huckabee told his supporters. He said that just a few weeks ago, no one would have expected his campaign even to be a contender in the Granite state.
“We just sensed we would do a whole lot better than most people thought this old unknown southern boy could possibly do up here in New England,” Huckabee said, adding: “What you helped us continue will be carried right on through and then right into the White House and onto leading America.”
The former Arkansas governor said he was flying tonight down to South Carolina for a rally in Greenville. Standing beside him on the stage was South Carolina's former governor David Beasley, an early supporter who has pledged to help him win the Palmetto state’s primary later this month.
Huckabee is leading in the polls in South Carolina, which has more social conservatives – the ordained Baptist minister’s core supporters – than New Hampshire.
Showcasing his signature sense of humor, Huckabee was introduced at his post-primary party here to R. Strauss’s dramatic “Thus Spake Zarathustra," the theme from Stanley Kubrick's “2001: A Space Odyssey."
Perhaps ironically, "2001" is concerned with man's evolution, but Huckabee doesn't believe in evolution. On the other hand, "2001" has something of an intelligent designer in the form of the alien obilisque from Jupiter that spurs apes to start using tools.
Huckabee also noted that today is the anniversary of Elvis’s birthday.