Mike Huckabee has vaulted from nowhere into second place in the Republican presidential race, riding a burst of support from evangelicals, Southerners and conservatives, a poll showed Friday.
The upsurge by the former Arkansas governor has come largely at the expense of Fred Thompson, according to the national survey by The Associated Press and Ipsos. Thompson has dropped after failing to galvanize the party's right-wing core as much as some had expected.
Rudy Giuliani remains the front-runner, yet while his support long has been steady it shows signs of fraying. Huckabee's growing strength in the South has come as the former New York mayor's support there has dropped, the poll found.
"Why not me?" Huckabee said in an interview Thursday. "I meet all the criteria. I'm conservative, but I think I appeal to a broader set of voters. And I think that people are also looking for someone with whom they can identify."