CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The country would be better off if other states had voted like West Virginia did in 2008, Mike Huckabee said Friday night.
The former Arkansas governor spoke to a packed room of about 500 people who attended the state Republican Party's "Freedom Dinner," at the Charleston Marriott.
"We wouldn't be in the mess we are now," Huckabee said, noting that he won West Virginia in the 2008 Republican presidential primary election.
"West Virginia is one of the most picturesque, beautiful states -- it has magnificent natural beauty," he said, adding that Arkansas also is known for its mountains.
And also like Arkansas, Huckabee said, West Virginia has a "Democratic machine."
People here are starting to realize, though, that Democrats have had their "boots on the neck of West Virginia's economy" and have held the state back, he said.
"The only way to change is to understand God put coal" and other natural resources in West Virginia "to allow the state to prosper," he said.
Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas started off Friday night's event by poking fun at Mingo County officials -- all Democrats -- who recently have been charged by federal prosecutors.