Just a couple months after threatening to leave the Republican Party because it's insufficiently antigay, Mike Huckabee has shown that was nothing but talk -- he's now exploring another run for the party's presidential nomination.
The former Arkansas governor, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, announced Saturday on his Fox News Channel show, Huckabee, that he was quitting the program to consider a White House bid.
"There has been a great deal of speculation as to whether I would run for president," he said at the end of Saturday's episode, which he announced will be the last. "And if I were willing to absolutely rule that out, I could keep doing this show. But I can't make such a declaration. ... As much as I have loved doing the show, I cannot bring myself to rule out another presidential run. I say goodbye, but as we say in television, stay tuned. There's more to come."
Of the potential contenders for the 2016 GOP nomination, former Southern Baptist minister Huckabee is in the far-right camp with Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Ted Cruz, and Ben Carson. He has been laying the groundwork for a campaign for some time, assembling a staff and meeting with donors, notes The Washington Post. And in November, he led an invitation-only tour of Europe for evangelical ministers from early-primary states, during which he claimed "the soul of America is in real trouble" because of same-sex marriage and abortion.
In October, Huckabee condemned Republican leaders for their muted response to the Supreme Court's decision to let several pro-marriage equality rulings by appellate courts take effect. "I am utterly exasperated with Republicans and the so-called leadership of the Republicans who have abdicated on this issue," he said in an interview on American Family Radio, an affiliate of the virulently antigay American Family Association. He predicted the party would "lose guys like me and a whole bunch of still God-fearing, Bible-believing people" and that he would become an independent.
Huckabee is about to embark on a tour to promote his new book, God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy, to be published January 20. It will deal with, among other things, "gun rights, gay marriage, the decline of patriotism, and the mainstream media's contempt for those who cherish a faith-based life," according to publisher Macmillan's website.
Few political insiders expect Huckabee to win the nomination, but he will likely make a difference in the race, commentsPost reporter Aaron Blake. The plethora of far-right competitors "will make Huckabee hard-pressed to repeat his showing from 2008," when he won primaries or caucuses in eight states, "but don't be surprised if he continues to poll quite well and takes significant votes," Blake writes.
Conservative Christian activists welcomed the news that Huckabee is considering a run and noted that his TV show has kept him in the spotlight since 2008. "Huckabee is positioned very well," Bob Vander Plaats, who led the 2010 campaign to recall pro-marriage equality judges in Iowa, told the Post. "People love him. He left but never left. He's on Fox News in people's living room on Saturday or Sunday."