Huckabee ready to give up on Florida?

The Prowler says he’s broke, but then the Prowler says a lot of things. Even if he’s not broke, he’s not swimming in dough and ad buys don’t come cheap there. So he’s expanding his campaign throughout the south, with an eye to giving up on Florida in the next few days if his polls don’t start to move. What does that mean? It means Mitt catches a minor break in that a few (but not all) of Huck’s supporters in the state will peel off to him as the social con alternative. But it also means the already slim chances of Huck dropping out before Super Tuesday, when those southern states he’s been visiting finally vote, are down to near zero. That means it’ll almost certainly be a four-man race into February, with Romney hobbled by Huck and McCain hobbled by Giuliani (or vice versa, depending upon who finishes ahead).

While his opponents blanket Florida with ads and personal appearances, Huckabee is making a small step daily in Florida as well as states like Georgia to maximize his free news media coverage and keep expenses low.

And if Florida’s notoriously expensive media markets prove too costly and the polls show it’s pointless to hunt for the state’s winner-take-all votes, Huckabee acknowledged he’ll probably spend his cash — and time — elsewhere.

But not yet.

”Right now, our plan is to play ball in Florida. We think we can play here. Obviously, every single day is a new day in the campaign, especially when it’s as fluid as it is,” he told reporters. “I don’t want to abandon Florida yet because we have not come to the conclusion that Florida is out of play. We’ve had leads here when we didn’t have any reason to have leads here in Florida. So, I mean really, it was just astonishing to us. We were leading polls. We thought: We don’t have a single staff person, we don’t have a field operation here, we’re not running TV or radio and we’re leading polls.”…

Huckabee leads in Georgia, which will have more delegates than Florida when it votes Feb. 5.

His only realistic chance of winning Florida was for Mitt to get knocked out in Michigan and then for Huck to beat McCain in South Carolina. That would have left him as the sole social con alternative with Rudy and Maverick splitting the centrists. (Although maybe Mitt’s departure would have encouraged Fred to stay in?) As it is, he’s lost 5-7 points over the past week and is holding steady at a distant fourth; InTrade gives him a two percent chance of winning. Exit question: What can Romney offer him to drop out? Anything? Note the last two paragraphs of the Herald piece before answering.