GOP’s Mike Huckabee won’t run for president

Mike Huckabee says he's not running for president.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a Baptist pastor turned cable news star, said he won’t run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

“My answer is clear and firm: I will not seek the Republican nomination for president,” Huckabee, now a Fox News Channel commentator who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, said yesterday at the close of his program. He called it a “spiritual” choice that contradicts support he sees in opinion polls.

“All the factors say go, but my heart says no,” said Huckabee, who plans instead to continue his show on Fox News, Bloomberg reported.

Huckabee, 55, is a favorite of socially conservative voters who make up a key bloc in Iowa and South Carolina, important early voting states in the party’s nominating contests. His decision to pass on the nomination reshapes a Republican field still forming, creating an opening for candidates with strong socially conservative records.

“It completely changes the race,” said Rich Bond, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, who ran President George H.W. Bush’s 1988 campaign in Iowa. “Removing the Iowa frontrunner from the race is a very big deal.”

Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, weighing a campaign for president, said the Republican Party would have “benefited” from Huckabee’s involvement in the race.

“It is unfortunate that we will not have his voice — or his bass guitar — in the presidential debate,” Huntsman said in a statement, referring to the instrument that Huckabee played on his program with rock-and-roll star Ted Nugent before announcing he won’t run for president.
‘Important Leader’

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, a prospective candidate, called Huckabee an “important leader” within the party and said he planned to “work hard to win the support of the millions” who backed Huckabee.

In a video at the close of Huckabee’s broadcast, real estate developer Donald Trump called him a “terrific guy.”

“But a lot of people are very happy he will not be running,” said Trump, who hasn’t announced his own decision about running. “Especially other candidates.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is running for president as a Republican, called Huckabee’s decision “a wonderful example for all Americans of someone trying to do the right thing.”

National polls of Republican-leaning voters have shown Huckabee leading as a presidential candidate within his party, typically topping lists of potential Republican challengers.
Iowa Voters

That support marks a four-year evolution for a candidate who entered the 2008 election contest as an underdog, registering at 1 percent in early polling. With only a skeletal campaign operation, he focused his attention on winning over socially conservative voters in Iowa.

The pastor spent months traveling the state, sometimes with action star Chuck Norris, a devout Christian beloved by the evangelical community. In January 2008, he rode strong support from the state’s social conservatives to win his party’s Iowa caucuses.

Though he later lost the nomination to Arizona Senator John McCain, Huckabee parlayed his higher profile into a Fox News program, called “Huckabee,” and a syndicated radio show.

Publicly, he showed little interest in running another campaign. In December, he filed paperwork to build a $3 million beach home in Walton County, Florida. He made plans to host an Alaskan cruise in June and, this month, started a series of animated children’s videos on American history. He earns about $500,000 from Fox News in a contract that goes through 2012, money he would have to forgo if he made a bid.

He spoke to Republican strategist Ed Rollins as recently as a week ago to review his ability to win the support of local activists in early primary states and fund-raisers.
Positive Answers

“I came back with positive answers on everything,” said Rollins, who chaired Huckabee’s 2008 campaign. “There was no reason for him not to run in the sense of the politics.”

Other candidates with strong records of opposing abortion rights and gay marriage including Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a Tea Party favorite, and Pawlenty, stand to benefit the most from Huckabee’s decision, said Rollins.

“There’s always a social conservative who does well in this campaign,” he said. “It just makes it very, very wide open race.”

Huckabee, a native of President Bill Clinton’s hometown of Hope, Arkansas, was elected lieutenant governor of the state in a 1993 special election. Three years later, he replaced Jim Guy Tucker as governor after he resigned in the midst of a financial scandal. Huckabee served two terms.
State Education

As governor, he pushed through changes to the state’s education and health insurance systems, including expanding health insurance for children whose families didn’t qualify for Medicaid. Angering some in his party, he raised fuel taxes to finance a road-building program in 1999.

He also commuted the sentences of more than 1,000 convicts, a decision that was attacked by his opponents during the 2008 presidential campaign. Those actions gained renewed attention in 2009, when a man whose sentence Huckabee commuted in 2000 killed four police officers in Washington State.

He graduated with a B.A. from Ouachita Baptist University in 1976 and soon went to work for James Robinson, a television evangelist.

Four years later, he became pastor of the Immanuel Baptist Church in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and started hosting a local talk show. He later moved to Beech Street First Baptist Church in Texarkana and became the town’s newscaster, covering election results, weather, and high school football games. He and his wife, Janet, have two sons and a daughter.
Republican Candidates

Gingrich has announced his candidacy, and two former Republican governors, Pawlenty and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, have filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to raise money for potential runs. Texas Congressman Ron Paul announced his third White House bid in New Hampshire on May 13.

Other potential candidates include Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Trump and Huntsman, who stepped down as U.S. ambassador to China at the end of April.

The lack of a clear Republican frontrunner has encouraged others, including Bachmann and Trump to position themselves for potential runs. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour said April 25 that he wouldn’t enter the race because he lacked an “absolute fire in the belly” to run. 


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Local

African couple claiming misidentification in robbery case to…

At a bail hearing today for Vickson and Lorfu Korlewala, charged in the robbery of an 80-year-old woman, bail was reduced from $1 million total to $500,000.

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

National

Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

Television

Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

Music

Both feet on the ground with Aimee Mann…

What began with a cool double-bill of Ted Leo opening for Aimee Mann morphed into a full-fledged collaborative project that they're calling The Both. “There…

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.