Chuck Norris Knocks Mike Huckabee Around – But Not Out

12/15/2007 at 12:35 PM EST

Chuck Norris Knocks Mike Huckabee Around – But Not Out
Chuck Norris and Mike Huckabee
Cheryl Senter/AP
Yikes! Did Oprah put Obama through the ringer like this?

Hollywood action hero Chuck Norris tells PEOPLE that before he decided to hit the campaign trail with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, he hit the GOP presidential candidate himself – literally.

According to Norris, this fall he invited Huckabee to his 700-acre ranch near College Station, Texas, and took the Republican to his private gym for a workout – Norris-style.

"I had just met him. I put the gloves on him for some martial arts sparring. I like to do that once in a while with people I don't know that well. I like to see how they stand up like that," Norris said Friday, while campaigning with Huckabee in New Hampshire, which will hold the nation's first presidential primary on Jan. 8.

And how did Huckabee measure up to the test? "He was a stand-up guy. I mean, literally. I knocked him around, but I didn't knock him out," Norris says.

But this tough guy knows his limits, adding with a laugh, "I figured I better do it now, before he's president, otherwise the Secret Service will take me out."

Norris is one of several celebrities involved in the 2008 presidential race. Oprah Winfrey has campaigned for Democrat Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, and former Sen. John Edwards, also a Democrat, has Desperate Housewives star James Denton, singer Bonnie Raitt and actor Kevin Bacon stumping for him.

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