Huckabee Hints He'll Launch White House Bid May 5

Huckabee Hints He'll Launch White House Bid May 5
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Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee appears poised to launch a bid for president on May 5 in Hope, Ark., a location that is doubly symbolic because it is his birthplace as well as that of former President Bill Clinton, whose wife Hillary Clinton is the likely Democratic nominee for president.

Huckabee revealed the date and location of his announcement in an interview Friday evening with Fox News’ Bret Baier. Similar teases have been used recently by Sens. Marco Rubio and Rand Paul to foment hype in advance of their presidential campaign announcements, suggesting that Huckabee will indeed launch a bid for president next month. 

Huckabee offered a preview of what his campaign would look like during a series of roundtable discussions with reporters in Washington, D.C, earlier Friday, saying he expects stiff competition but would be able to cobble together a coalition to put him in the hunt for the Republican nomination.

“Most of the people who were with me eight years ago are still with me,” Huckabee said, referring to his first bid for president in 2008, when he won the Iowa caucuses but fell short of the nomination. 

Huckabee acknowledged, however, that campaigning for president has changed markedly since 2008 — most notably in the wake of the 2010 Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court that opened the campaign finance floodgates.

In 2008, Huckabee won in Iowa in spite of being outspent by Mitt Romney by a factor of roughly 15 to one. This time, with super PACs on the scene and with a fiercely competitive Republican primary field, Huckabee might face an even steeper financial climb.

“I don’t think I need to raise the same amount of funds as some of the other candidates, because I know how politics works. Some people will raise so much money, they will have more money than they know what to do with, and they will waste a bunch of it and blow through it and run a very inefficient organization,” Huckabee reasoned Friday. “We want to be efficient. I want to be as frugal as I wish the government would be.”

There is also the question of whether Huckabee, who won Iowa in 2008 largely on the strength of his conservative credentials, will indeed hold the same appeal among social conservatives this time, when candidates such as Sen. Ted Cruz and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker might take generous bites out of the same apple.

Huckabee said Thursday that he did not appeal only to evangelical voters in 2008 — a common “misconception,” he said — but also to the working class, whom he would hope to win again in 2016.

“I also think that I’ve got an opportunity to bring some people into the fold that are not historically Republican voters,” Huckabee added. “I go back to the number of African-American votes that I got in Arkansas. I had a strong Hispanic following in Arkansas. Maybe even union members.” 

The element perhaps working most in Huckabee’s favor, by his estimation at least, is the Republican primary schedule — which begins in January 2016 with the Iowa caucuses.

“I have no presumptions that I’m a lock to win it or that I go into it with this unbreakable position in favor,” Huckabee said. “But we have a good structure, a good organization, good contacts, a good network there, a good message there. And I do know how to win Iowa.”

Huckabee conceded New Hampshire would present a “tougher environment” for his message, but the South Carolina and so-called SEC primary, which will include Arkansas and Georgia, could give him a shot.

Meanwhile, Huckabee continues to poll strongly at this early stage among potential Republican candidates for president. In the RealClearPolitics polling average, Huckabee places second among Republicans in Iowa with 12 percent, trailing Walker. In South Carolina, Huckabee averages fourth place among Republicans.

Rebecca Berg is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at rberg@realclearpolitics.com.

 

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