After days of ardent speculation about his intentions, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee announced that he would not be seeking the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Huckabee made the announcment Saturday evening at the conclusion of his weekly show, Huckabee, on Fox News.
“All the factors say go, but my heart says no. And that’s the decision that I’ve made,” Huckabee said.
Huckabee’s announcement became more circus-like when Donald Trump, who is also mulling a presidential run, pre-recorded a statement in support of Huckabee, which aired immediately after Huckabee made his announcement.
Before he revealed his decision, Huckabee, who had not even told his closest advisers of his decision, said that he could have mounted a campaign. Indeed, his advisers had indicated that an organization was ready to go if Huckabee decided to enter the race.
Huckabee said he could have raised the money needed to mount a campaign and could have won outside the South, and cited his strong showing in polls in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maine “shattered the notion” that he was just a “regional candidate or just a social conservative.”
Huckabee also seemed irked that though he led Republicans in most national polls and fared best against President Obama in many of these same polls, “other candidates who barely registered” got more attention than he did.
Huckabee also indicated that if he had decided to pursue the GOP nomination, his family would have been completely supportive despite the “brutal and savage” attacks they would have had to endure. This was perhaps a shot a Mitch Daniels, whose family seems to be the final hurdle in his deciding to seek the Republican nomination.
Huckabee said his relationship with “Jesus was more important than any political office” and that he had “clarity” and an “inexplicable inner peace.”
In perhaps a dig at pundits and the chattering class, Huckabee said he didn’t fully understand his inner peace, “but I’m sure the pundits will.”
Huckabee’s decision shakes up the GOP race.
Immediately, former Utah Gov. and Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, who is likely to mount a run for the presidency, released a statement in support of Huckabee.
“Our country has been very fortunate to have Mike Huckabee as a leader and public servant. His commitment to this country and its core values — life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — is a model to which all elected officials should aspire,” Huntsman said in a statement.
“It is unfortunate that we will not have his voice — or his bass guitar — in the presidential debate, as our party would have benefited from his involvement. Yet I’m confident that he will continue to be a positive force in the national conversation no matter his future endeavors and I look forward to his continued friendship,” Huntsman added in the statement.
Huntsman, who went to a non-denominational church with South Carolina Rep. Tim Scott in South Carolina recently, may benefit from a potential Huckabee endorsement. Because Huckabee was at the top of many polls, it goes without saying that other candidates who are strugging to get traction like former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty would like his endorsement as well.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, whose recent embrace of Americanism and American exceptionalism sounded similar to what Huckabee was saying at the beginning of his show when he criticized Americans for being historically illiterate, said Huckabee will be a “major force for conservatism and he will play a major role in shaping America’s future” in the years ahead.
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who is seeking the social conservative and values voters vote, also chimed in with a statement.
“I have long admired Governor Huckabee and his commitment to talking about the critical issues facing America,” Santorum said. “Those of us who believe in the virtues and values of life and family can never have enough allies, and I am grateful to Governor Huckabee for helping to keep those issues front and center.”
In many polls, though, those who supported Huckabee chose former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as their second choice. Should Palin decide to throw her hat in to the 2012 ring, Huckabee’s supporters would most likely give Palin serious consideration.
Huckabee will appear on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace on Sunday morning, and he will give more details on his reasons for deciding to skip the 2012 cycle.