WARWICK, R.I. (AP) – Republican Mike Huckabee said he was looking for support from conservative Republicans in Rhode Island to help him beat front-runner John McCain in next week’s presidential primary election.

The former Arkansas governor campaigned in Rhode Island on Monday ahead of the state’s March 4 primary. He described himself as a “conservative alternative” to the Arizona senator who has won far more of the delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination and has secured the backing of most of the prominent Republicans in the state.

McCain’s Rhode Island supporters include Gov. Don Carcieri, House Minority Leader Robert Watson and Warwick Mayor Scott Avedesian.

“The Republican party in Rhode Island still has many, many conservatives – very pro-life,” Huckabee told reporters after a visit to the Community Preparatory School in Providence, where he stressed to students the importance of an arts education and briefly played the guitar.

Huckabee said he would not abandon his presidential bid because McCain has not yet won the 1,191 delegates needed to sew up the nomination, and because “anything can happen in an election.”

Huckabee, however, acknowledged that it may be very difficult to pull off an upset.

“The path to winning is very complicated for me,” he said. “I understand that. The path to losing is real simple: all I’ve got to do is quit.”

At an afternoon news conference, Huckabee said he was not ready to bow out of the race or accept the second-place prize.

“I didn’t run for vice president,” he said. “I’m not running for vice president now.”

AP-ES-02-25-08 1816EST


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