Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee on Wednesday defended his decision to suspend campaigning before Wisconsin's presidential primary so he can fly to the Cayman Islands to give a paid speech.
He said he needs to make a living, and the event has been on his schedule for months.
"I have to make a living. I do that through my writing and my speaking," Huckabee told reporters after rally supporters in this Milwaukee suburb. "There will be a few other times when I go out and make sure I can pay my mortgage payment like everybody else has to."
Huckabee said he would speak to a group of young professionals in the Cayman Islands on Saturday.
He planned to campaign across the state on Thursday and depart for the speech after a campaign breakfast Friday in Brookfield. He said he would return to Wisconsin on Sunday for more campaigning in his bid to upset Arizona Sen. John McCain in the primary on Tuesday.
McCain is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
The former Arkansas governor said he was not worried that Wisconsin voters would be offended by the trip. He said that unlike his rival for the GOP nomination, as well as both Democratic candidates — Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton _ he does not receive a taxpayer-funded salary.
Huckabee collected a taxpayer-funded salary during the more than 10 years he served —as governor. He left office in January 2007.
"I can't imagine anybody, except maybe one of my opponents, having a problem with it," Huckabee said. "They are so used to having the taxpayers fund their day-to-day existence."