Huckabee packs them in and puts on a show

DES MOINES – Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) put on a show here Tuesday night, and, in what could be a good sign for his campaign, he had a huge crowd to perform for.

Huckabee played bass guitar with a local band and he surprised many by pulling MSNBC host and former Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.) on stage to play along.

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Huckabee said there were an estimated 2,000 attendees at the Val Air Ballroom, where the former governor was joined by his wife and Chuck Norris. Huckabee supporters said before the event they were thrilled by the crowd size given the near-zero temperatures outside.

Norris announced that he and his wife will host a virtual barbeque fundraiser for Huckabee on Jan. 20, with a goal of raising $10 million. Huckabee faces a series of crucial test before then, beginning with the Iowa caucuses Thursday night.

The former governor and the rest of the candidates spent the day campaigning hard across the state, pushing for last minute support and pleading with audiences to show up and caucus.

“I would consider it the highest honor of my life if you would give me the opportunity not to rule, but to serve,” Huckabee said.

Most polls continue to show Huckabee leading former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney among Republicans in Iowa.

In a small departure from most of Huckabee’s campaign events, his wife, Janet, took the stage to address the crowd and introduce the band.

“I can’t wait to be your first lady because I think it is going to be too cool, and we are going to have too much fun,” Janet Huckabee said.

The crowd was enthused throughout the event, applauding the former governor just as much if not more than Norris.

Huckabee ran through much of his platform, pledging to reshape the “ridiculous” tax code, fight for life and the traditional definition of marriage and make the country’s armed forces stronger.

“We will be a strong nation that will apologize to no one for our strength,” he said.

As he often does, the former governor drew big laughs from the crowd when he told them to tell their neighbors who might caucus for one of his rivals that they do not want to miss the Orange Bowl, which is being played the same night as the caucuses.

“Shovel your snow into their driveway,” Huckabee joked. “Let the air out of their tires, disconnect their battery cable.”