GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Mike Huckabee broadened his populist-inspired appeal for support in Michigan on Saturday, saying he viewed his presidential campaign as a "cause" that represents a threat to the Republican establishment in Washington.

With polls showing support in Michigan's Republican primary Tuesday to be extremely fluid among Mitt Romney, John McCain and Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor also lashed out at candidates who campaign on a theme of opposing abortion but do little about it when they get into office.

"We're people who will no longer just allow people to get elected, promising that they're listening to us about the sanctity of human life," Huckabee said. "We want to elect people who will do something about protecting human life."

Speaking to about 400 people in a ballroom at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, Huckabee said he loved being in the GOP, "but I love my country even more."

"I'm asking you today to be a part of something that is a lot more than just a campaign. I want to think it's a cause," Huckabee said.

"Apparently my candidacy comes as somewhat of a threat to a lot of the Republicans in the Republican establishment -- some of the folks who have run the party in the Washington circles," he said. "They've maybe not understood that the heart and soul of the Republican Party is only as strong as the heart and soul of the rest of America."

Huckabee, a Baptist minister, also met with about 100 pastors to help develop an evangelical network similar to the one that helped him defeat Romney in Iowa's leadoff caucuses.


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But before he was finished with the ballroom crowd, he also borrowed Romney's criticism of McCain in inferring that the veteran Arizona senator was part of a "status quo" that has had a chance to solve the nation's problems and failed.

Romney and McCain, meanwhile, used separate stops in the state to pledge to work to create jobs and revitalize a Michigan economy that finds its unemployment rate about 50 percent above the nation's 5 percent jobless rate.

At a stop in Battle Creek, Romney, a native of the state, emphasized roots that included his late father's tenure as Michigan governor. He said he would "not rest as president until Michigan is mended again, growing, successful and the pride of the nation."

McCain told a crowd in Warren that he stood by his recent comments that some jobs have left the state for good. Still, he said, "We're going to create jobs; we're going to create a new economy."

Citing the state's machinist and engineering history, McCain said "Detroit and Michigan once saved the world in World War II and they can do it again."