NAVASOTA, Texas (AP) – Campaigning for Mike Huckabee, actor Chuck Norris said Sunday that Sen. John McCain is too old to handle the pressures of being president.
"I didn't pick John to support because I'm just afraid that the vice president would wind up taking over his job in that four-year presidency," said Norris, who was hosting a fundraiser for Huckabee at his Lone Wolf Ranch.
"So we need to find someone that can handle it for four years or eight years … that has the youth and vision and communication skills to make that work." Norris, 67, is four years younger than McCain, who will be 72 in August.
Huckabee will be 52 in August.
The former Arkansas governor, coming off a disappointing second-place finish in the South Carolina GOP primary to McCain, distanced himself from Norris' comments.
"Only John McCain and his hairdresser know for sure," he quipped, at a ranch house on the sprawling East Texas estate. "It is a very stressful position. … I'm not going to say he's too old. I think he's got a lot of inner strength, good genetic factors by his mom."
McCain's campaign did not immediately have a comment.
As the first Southern primary, South Carolina was supposed to be friendly territory for Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister.
"We obviously wanted to win and we really thought we would win," he said. "The fact of Fred Thompson's being in the race took some votes that we would have most likely had."
Huckabee also blamed late snowfall in parts of upstate South Carolina.
"The snow not only froze the streets of the Greenville-Spartanburg area, the votes kinda stopped once it started snowing," he said. "That was an area we were looking forward to having a significant vote margin."
Huckabee hoped the fundraiser would be the start of a momentum shift in his favor.
"Starting today, we reset the clock," Huckabee said. "I woke up this morning and I thought 'the momentum is back.'"
Huckabee next turns to Florida, which holds its GOP primary Jan. 29. He seemed to be preparing for a long haul.
"Even a contest of delegates isn't going to be over after Florida and probably even after February 5," he said. "So everybody's sort of retooled and said, 'No, this could go on all the way to the convention.'"
Norris estimated that more than 200 people had paid at least $1,000 for a plate of barbecue and a chance to watch Huckabee play bass guitar with his band, Capitol Offense. Some paid $2,300, but fundraising totals were not yet available.
After repeating his stump speech to the rural Texas crowd, the band joined Huckabee on stage for some classic rock tunes, kicking off with "Only in America."