Yes, Mike Huckabee Is (Probably) Running For President
After declining to run in 2012, Mike Huckabee's entry into the 2016 race seems fairly certain.
Last night of Fox News, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee announced that he would be making announcement about this Presidential plans early next month in the hometown he shares with the husband of the presumptive Democratic nominee:
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will announce whether he will run for president on May 5 in his hometown of Hope, Ark., he said Friday night in a Fox News appearance.
“May 5 is the day I’ll make an announcement and I hope people will come to Hope, Ark., not just to tour the Bill Clinton birthplace, but there’s going to be an announcement that day and everybody will know then for sure whether Mike Huckabee is in the race or not,” he told Fox’s Bret Baier.
Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucuses in 2008 before losing the Republican nomination to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and later spent a half-decade as a Fox News commentator and host, would face an uphill battle in the crowded 2016 GOP field. Earlier in the day, he told a group of reporters gathered in a Capitol Hill hotel that that he is weighing whether he would have sufficient money and political organization to wage a bid.
“Money is not the only thing that matters, but it matters a lot,” said Huckabee, who insisted he would be in a stronger fundraising position than he was in in 2008. “It matters when you’re trying to defend yourself against million-dollar attacks.”
Huckabee, like most of the other candidates, would have a super PAC boosting his campaign. But he said that in an ideal world, people could give unlimited sums to candidates — but those donations would all have to be disclosed.
The former governor painted himself as the potential candidate best-positioned to take on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, noting that he has confronted “the Clinton political machine and Clinton political money” in Arkansas. And in terms of his strategy to win the nomination, he said he is still well-positioned in Iowa and added that South Carolina and a cluster of southern states would be competitive ground for him.
“I do know how to win Iowa,” he said. “I don’t presume anything, I feel like we’ll go back to what we did before, go back to all 99 counties, go out there and work it and earn it.”
While Huckabee’s announcement that he’s going to be making an announcement (a silly practice that seems to be becoming more common among politicians) doesn’t formally say that he is entering the race, and he has not formed an Exploratory Committee like Jeb Bush and Ben Carson have, it’s safe to assume that Huckabee will likely be announcement at least the beginnings of a Presidential bid. You don’t schedule an announcement that is clearly intended to be something like a campaign rally if you’re going to announce that you’re not running or that you’re thinking about running. There are other means of communicating that type of message. Moreover, you certainly don’t schedule anything other than an announcement in a place that, in addition to being Huckabee’s hometown, is also the hometown of a former President who happens to be married to the woman who will most likely be the Democratic nominee for President. So, the odds are that, seven years after surprising many with his performance in the Iowa Caucuses, Mike Huckabee will be entering the race for President.
If he does run, though, it seems pretty clear that Huckabee will have his work cut out for him. Unlike 2008 when he was arguably the only real social conservative in the race, this time around he will be competing against any number of candidates who will be openly campaigning for that vote, including Ted Cruz, Rand Paulll, Ben Carson, and, possibly, Rick Santorum. With the social conservative vote being sought by so many candidates, it’s unlikely that Huckabee will be able to rely on those voters the same way he did in 2008, or that his support among that cadre of voters will do him much good in the early primaries outside of Iowa. This reality is reflected in the polling, where Huckabee is essentially in the middle of the pack in national polls with a RealClearPolitics average of 8.5%. The former Governor is a bit stronger in Iowa, where he’s averaging 12% behind Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, but there hasn’t been much polling in the Hawkeye State in the last two months so it’s unclear what the impact of Cruz, Paul, and Rubio entering the race has been. In the remaining early primary states, though, Huckabee is basically in the middle of the pack just as his is nationwide, averaging 6.0% in New Hampshire, 9.0% in South Carolina, and 7.7% in Florida. These aren’t bad numbers necessarily, but they also aren’t the numbers that Huckabee was seeing in 2011 when he was considering entering the 2012 race, and they indicate that he’s going to have his work cut out for him if he decides to enter the race.