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Huckabee ignoring GOP's hints to quit presidential race

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  • Former President Bush endorses McCain
  • Bush endorsement announcement seen as another hint to Huckabee it's time to quit
  • Huckabee says he's in race until he or McCain has enough delegates
  • Romney backers would be better off supporting him than McCain, Huckabee says
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(CNN) -- Mike Huckabee isn't conceding anything.

Mike Huckabee listens to a question during a campaign stop Friday in Brookfield, Wisconsin.

The race for the Republican presidential nomination was declared over again when former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney endorsed Sen. John McCain. Two weeks ago, it was declared over when Romney, Huckabee's rival for the party's conservative vote, announced he was suspending his candidacy.

Huckabee says he realizes the numbers are against him -- Romney won 286 delegates, and Huckabee has won 217. Add Romney's delegates to McCain's, and it gives the Arizona senator a 899-delegate lead and puts him 75 away from the number needed to be the nominee.

But Huckabee said you can't assume that Romney's delegates will switch their allegiance to McCain. Video Watch Romney endorse McCain »

"Well, the question is, will they go there?" he asked. "We heard all along that the reason they were with Romney was because they were splitting with me over the conservative wing of the party.

"Now, the question is, do they go to the most conservative person, the person who believes in the Human Life Amendment, the person who wants to make sure that we don't raise taxes, who has signed the no-tax pledge? If they -- if that's what drove them to their original decision, there's as strong a likelihood that they would come with me." Video Watch Huckabee react to Romney's endorsement »

There is pressure from fellow Republicans for Huckabee to drop out and allow McCain to get on with campaigning against Democrats. But Huckabee says he'll stay in the race until it's over.

In a fundraising appeal e-mailed after Romney's announcement, Huckabee asked for contributions to "win Texas and reclaim the momentum in the race" to be able to get to the convention.

"We are laying it all on the field in Texas," the appeal reads, which points out that $1.5 million is needed to compete in the March 4 primary there.

The latest prod to Huckabee to get out of the race came Friday when the McCain campaign announced that former President George H.W. Bush would endorse McCain next week.

But the former president's endorsement isn't likely to impress Republican conservatives who fuel Huckabee's campaign. For starters, the so-called "values voters" always suspected Bush the elder was not wholly committed to the anti-abortion cause.

And the former president's tenure in office gave rise to phrases that have become part of the conservative lexicon -- "No more Souters" refers to the Bush Supreme Court pick, a relative unknown who has proved to be a high court liberal.

Huckabee was campaigning in Wisconsin on Friday and didn't immediately react to McCain's latest endorsement, which is seen as a way to both bolster McCain in Texas -- where a strong bloc of politically active social conservatives could embarrass him in the state's March 4 primary -- and send another message to Huckabee.


But on Thursday, he was still talking about getting enough votes to keep McCain from getting to 1,191 and defending his staying in the race. Video Watch Huckabee explain why he's staying in »

"I think it would be a great disservice to the country and to my own party to just give up and quit because it looks like, you know, the numbers are trending toward John McCain." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Candy Crowley contributed to this report.

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