Huckabee headlines anti-abortion rally in Atlanta

ATLANTA - A reversal of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling wouldn't be enough to eradicate abortion in this country, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said Tuesday.

Only a "human-rights" constitutional amendment prohibiting abortion would settle the issue once and for all, the Baptist minister and former Arkansas governor told a cheering crowd of hundreds outside the state Capitol.

"We can't have 50 states deciding (abortion)," said Huckabee, the main speaker at a rally marking the 35th anniversary of the court decision legalizing abortion. "There can only be one standard."

Huckabee's appearance in downtown Atlanta was his second in two days as he sought to build support for the Feb. 5 Georgia primary following last weekend's disappointing second-place finish for the native Southerner in South Carolina's first-in-the-South GOP primary.

He attended Monday's Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative service at Ebenezer Baptist Church and later accepted the endorsement of some three dozen black ministers and religious leaders.

Huckabee held a solid lead in Georgia in polls conducted shortly before and after his Jan. 3 victory in the Iowa caucuses. But that was before he lost to Arizona Sen. John McCain in New Hampshire and South Carolina and saw former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney capture the Michigan primary.

Georgia now looms as a key state for Huckabee, particularly in light of the South Carolina results, said Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia.

"If he had won South Carolina, the Georgia vote would be less significant," Bullock said. "If he rebounds in Georgia, it would be very important for him."

Huckabee was introduced at Tuesday's rally by Gov. Sonny Perdue, who stopped just short of an endorsement. The two know each other well because Huckabee was still in office in Arkansas when Perdue became Georgia's governor.

Perdue called his former colleague a straight shooter.

"What you see is what you get," Perdue said. "This is a man who is not political with his beliefs. He doesn't align himself with the issue of the day."

With lawmakers at the Capitol for budget hearings, many turned out for Huckabee's speech despite a cold drizzle.

Rep. Melvin Everson, R-Snellville, also a minister, enthusiastically endorsed Huckabee.

"It's good to have a candidate who is so firm in his pro-life beliefs," Everson said. "It was inspiring."

The Huckabee campaign received a boost later Tuesday when former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee dropped out of the Republican race after a series of poor showings in the early primaries.

Thompson was leading in the polls in Georgia last fall before Huckabee made an unexpected surge, and the two were widely seen as competing for the same portion of the Republican electorate: religious conservatives.

Indeed, many political pundits credited McCain's win in South Carolina to Thompson attracting support from evangelical voters that otherwise would have gone to Huckabee.