US Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has admitted that his campaign is running out of money, with some staff members leaving and others working without pay.

Despite his strong showing in some of the initial primary races for the Republican nomination, the former Baptist minister has spoken frankly about his rapidly diminishing funds.

Ahead of the key Florida primary next week, the candidate told an audience yesterday that he is running a “frugal” campaign.

The former Governor of Arkansas was the surprise winner of the Iowa primary at the start of January, where his fundamentalist Christian views chimed with rural voters.

However in national polls he trails his rivals.

RamussenReports.com’s latest daily poll puts Senator John McCain on 24% of likely Republican primary voters, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney on 19%, Huckabee on 17%, former Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani on 11% and Congressman Ron Paul on 6%.

He lacks the resources to buy up advertising time on TV in the 21 states that will choose a Republican candidate on February 5th, known as “Super Tuesday.”

Last week Huckabee said that if elected he wants to change the US Constitution to ban abortion and compared gay relationships to “a man and an animal.”

In an interview with an online religious magazine he proposed to ban abortion and “affirm” marriage.

“I think the radical view is to say that we’re going to change the definition of marriage so that it can mean two men, two women, a man and three women, a man and a child, a man and animal,” he said.

He has refused to distance himself from comments he made as a candidate for the US Senate in 1992 about people infected with HIV.

Huckabee answered questions submitted to him by The Associated Press, one of which read:

“It is difficult to understand the public policy towards AIDS.

“It is the first time in the history of civilisation in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents.”

Huckabee is also on record as saying that gay people choose their behaviour.

“People who are gay say that they’re born that way,” he said in a TV interview in December.

“But one thing I know, that the behaviour one practices is a choice.

“We may have certain tendencies, but how we behave and how we carry out our behaviour.”

An American organisation that works to expose the tactics of “ex-gay” groups has raised concerns Huckabee has links with known extremist groups.

TruthWinsOut questioned his links with the Christian Reconstructionist movement, which believes the Bible justifies stoning adulterers and homosexuals.