Mike Huckabee Takes Another Step Toward Running For President

Over the weekend, Mike Huckabee took another step that suggests that he is indeed planning on running for President in 2016.

Mike Huckabee

Four years ago, there was much attention focused on former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee as a potential candidate for the 2012 Republican nomination for President, a move that at the time seemed like a natural one for the former Arkansas Governor. After all, while Mitt Romney and his supporters had spent much time in the intervening years painting him as the candidate next in line for the party nomination, it was in fact Huckabee who finished second to John McCain in 2008 in terms of both total votes in the primaries and committed delegates. Additionally, as the 2012 cycle was beginning at the start of 2011  several polls, both from Iowa and nationwide that seemed to show him to be the Republican frontrunner. Most importantly, at the time Huckabee seemed to be the only conservative candidate capable of challenging Mitt Romney thanks in no small part to the fact that he continued to enjoy wide support in Iowa, where he had scored a surprise victory in 2008 caucuses. In the end, though, after flirting with the idea of running quite openly, Huckabsee announced, in an appearance on his Saturday night Fox News Channel that had been well publicized in a manner akin to LeBron James announcing whether he would be playing in Cleveland or Miami that he would not be running in 2012. At that point, other than hosting a candidate forum later in 2011 that actually ended up being more informative than most of the multi-candidate debates we saw during that cycle, Huckabee largely faded from the political scene.

With the 2016 race just starting to heat up, and notwithstanding the fact that it has been nearly eight years since he was last on the campaign trail, it looks like Mike Huckabee is thinking about running for President again, and this time he seems far more serious than he was in the run-up to the 2012 cycle. As long ago as late 2013, Huckabee was suggesting that he was “open” to running for President again despite bowing out the previous cycle. Additionally, and somewhat surprisingly given the amount of time that has passed, polling both nationwide and in Iowa has shown the former Governor performing quite well against what basically amounts to a generation of Republican candidates entirely different from those he faced in 2008. Additionally, Huckabee has spent the last year attempting reinsert himself back in the political conversation by speaking out on issues ranging from same-sex marriage to Ebola, and assembling a core group of donors and supporters that would form the basis for a 2016 campaign. Last night, though, he took the most obvious step yet toward a probable run for President with the announcement that he was ending his affiliation with Fox News to explore a Presidential run:

WASHINGTON — TV host and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says he is leaving his Fox News talk show as he considers whether to seek the Republican nomination for president, a decision he expects to reach in the spring.

Huckabee said Saturday night’s edition of “Huckabee” would be his last as he ponders his political future. The weekly show, which is taped with a live audience and features political commentary as well as interviews with guests and musical entertainment, has been on the air for more than six years.

“There’s been a great deal of speculation as to whether I would run for president. And if I were willing to absolutely rule that out, I could keep doing this show. But I can’t make such a declaration,” he said at the end of Saturday’s program.

“Now, I’m not going to make a decision about running until late in the spring of 2015, but the continued chatter has put Fox News into a position that just isn’t fair to them — nor is it possible for me to openly determine political and financial support to justify a race. The honorable thing to do at this point is to end my tenure here at Fox. Now, as much as I have loved doing the show, I cannot bring myself to rule out another presidential run.”

The former Baptist preacher and Arkansas chief executive — he led the state from 1996 to 2007 — is a favorite among social conservatives. While hosting the TV show he has published books, appeared at conservative conferences around the country and offered harsh criticism of President Barack Obama’s policies.

As I noted when I wrote about the possibility of a Huckabee run in 2016 back in November, on some level it’s hard for me to see the logic behind Mike Huckabee running for President again after so much time has passed. To a large degree, his success in 2008 was as much due to one of those flukes in American politics that rarely repeats itself, especially after the passage of so much time. Perhaps if Huckabee were someone who had stayed in office during the years between then and now, I could see why he might be considered a viable candidate this time around despite having foregone a run four years ago. That’s not the case, though, and there’s much that has changed in the Republican Party in the intervening years. The rise of the Tea Party, of course, is the most notable example, but as it concerns Huckabee himself the fact of the matter is that there are any number of potential candidates in 2016 who would be competing for the same pool of voters as he would. Rick Santorum, who has dropped his own hints about running again recently, was arguably the standard bearer of the Huckabee voters in 2012, for example, and would presumably be a strong candidate among Evangelical and religious conservatives if he ran again this time around. Other potential candidates, such as Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Rand Paul, and Mike Pence will also try to make their own appeals to these voters. Given this, and the fact that he has been outside of politics for so long now, Huckabee may find himself crowded out by the “new blood.” Additionally, it doesn’t seem likely that Huckabee would have much luck appealing beyond this evangelical base. Indeed, if anything, the antipathy outside for the former Arkansas Governor outside of that part of the GOP only seems to have increased in the years since the 2008 campaign.

It could turn out, of course, that lightning will in fact strike twice for Mike Huckabee. His best case scenario would be one where he won Iowa and South Carolina by strong enough margins that he ended up becoming the de facto conservative alternative to whomever the “mainstream” candidate turns out to be, which right now seems like it will be Jeb Bush, and thus clears the field early of the other competitors for the evangelical vote. Then, it would be a battle going forward between Huckabee and this “mainstream” candidate. Most likely, a candidate like Bush would be favored in such a situation but given the nature of the Republican Party these days, I’m not sure you can rule out the possibility that Huckabee could end up being the nominee. He’d lose the General Election, of course, but the people who support candidates like Huckabee seem to support purity more than prudence so one assumes that really wouldn’t bother them.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. gVOR08 says:

    …on some level it’s hard for me to see the logic behind Mike Huckabee running for President again…

    Only, as I’m sure you’re aware, because you’re giving him the benefit of the doubt by assuming he’s serious about it.

  2. Mark Jacobs says:

    He was Governor, not Senator from Arkansas.

    Four years ago, there was much attention focused on former Arkansas Senator Mike Huckabee as a potential candidate for the 2012 Republican nomination for President, a move that at the time seemed like a natural one for the former Arkansas Governor.

  3. @Mark Jacobs:

    My error, will fix

  4. James Pearce says:

    Additionally, it doesn’t seem likely that Huckabee would have much luck appealing beyond this evangelical base.

    I think the Evangelical stuff will limit Huckabee’s chances more than being out of politics. He was out of office, but he was never really out of politics.

  5. ernieyeball says:

    Oh Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy! I just can’t wait for Huckleberry to get elected and force all Americans to (well you know where this is going)…

    I almost wish that there would be something like a simultaneous telecast and all Americans would be forced, forced — at gun point no less — to listen to every David Barton message. And I think our country would be better for it. I wish it’d happen.

    http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/03/31/154984/mike-huckabee-david-barton/
    Maybe he will recruit the 1967 Black Panther Party of California to help him out. (If the cops haven’t shot them all.)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUQIYLQ2rbk

  6. Kylopod says:

    @ernieyeball: Somehow I suspect his rivals for the GOP nomination will find stuff far more offensive about him. Say, his teaming up with The Devil Incarnate.

  7. ernieyeball says:

    @Kylopod:..Say, his teaming up with The Devil Incarnate.

    Yeah you’re probably right. Threatening to kill Citizens unless they agree with you is small potatoes compared to hob nobbing with Bezelbub Bill!

  8. HarvardLaw92 says:

    I’ve popped my popcorn, so let the clown car begin! 😀

  9. TheColourfield says:

    He’s going the Newt Route to refresh his own pockets then go back to right wing media. Knows he can’t win but it will up his profile.

    Shameless

  10. Tony W says:

    Fantastic News! Maybe Michelle Bachmann will change her mind too!

  11. steve says:

    Does this mean we get to see all of the tapes they refused to release of his past sermons? After all, if we got to see (parts of) Jeremiah Wright’s sermons, shouldn’t we get to see Huckabee’s?

    Steve

  12. ernieyeball says:

    @steve:..Does this mean we get to see all of the tapes they refused to release of his past sermons?

    “…refused to release?” Do tell.
    Can’t imagine what the Huckster could be hiding…
    Fill us in Steve.

  13. DrDaveT says:

    You have to wonder, who do the Sanford Weills and Lloyd Blankfeins of the world really wish the Republican Party would nominate for 2016? It sure as heck ain’t Huckabee, or Rand Paul, or Chris Christie, or Marco Rubio, or even Mitt Romney. Jeb Bush? Really?

    What’s the world coming to, when the Party of Rich can’t even find a useful tool?

  14. ernieyeball says:

    @DrDaveT:..when the Party of Rich can’t even find a useful tool?

    According to some of the comments on this site we are all the exploited tools of our Capitalist Overlords…

  15. Barry says:

    @TheColourfield: Seconding this. Doug, you saw this in 2012, when a pack of hopeless grifters (Newt, Cain, Bachman) basically cluttered the stage.

  16. CSK says:

    Well, guess what? I just checked with Amazon, and Huck has a new book due out on January 20, 2015.

    The title is: God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy

    I swear I did not make this up. Check for yourselves if you don’t believe me. But I know you do.

    That title really pushes all the right buttons, doesn’t it?

  17. michael reynolds says:

    @CSK:

    It’s a great title and sums up so many stories we see. Some hillbilly prays to God, loads his gun, gets gravy on his fingers, slips and shoots himself in the grits.

  18. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    It’s funny, because a few months ago I came up with the expression “The Four Gs” to describe the four obsessions of the Tea Party (God, Guns, Gays, and Gynecology) . I feel as if I’ve been channeled in some way. Eery.

    I have to say that your summation of the title made me spray the screen with a mouthful of coffee.

  19. Barry says:

    @DrDaveT: “You have to wonder, who do the Sanford Weills and Lloyd Blankfeins of the world really wish the Republican Party would nominate for 2016? It sure as heck ain’t Huckabee, or Rand Paul, or Chris Christie, or Marco Rubio, or even Mitt Romney. Jeb Bush? Really?”

    They want a Republican who can win, full stop. There is no Republican with even a snowball’s chance in h*ll who won’t give Wall St anything that it wants.

    And Wall St understands just how much a GOP Presidency/House/Senate/SCOTUS is. It’s got to be worth several trillion.

  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Barry: Sadly, the same can be said for an ever increasing number of Dems.

  21. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Barry:

    I know Blankfein; he’s a Democrat. A big one …