(CNN) – In the wake of the contributor contract suspensions of two possible candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, Fox News has left unaddressed what it will do with three other contributors who remain on its payroll but also appear to be mulling bids for the presidency.
Fox News suspended the contributor contracts of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum Wednesday. But continuing in roles at the network are former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, host of a weekend show on Fox News, as well as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a regular Fox News contributor.
Huckabee sought the GOP nomination in 2008 while Palin was the Republican vice presidential candidate that year.
Also, John Bolton, former ambassador to the U.N., announced last fall that he may throw his hat in the presidential race as well. He is also a regular Fox contributor.
Bret Baier, the anchor of Fox News' "Special Report," announced the contract suspensions of Gingrich and Santorum on-air Wednesday, saying "Fox News has suspended its contributor arrangements with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, both of whom who have considered possible runs for the president."
Baier also hinted that it may not be the only announcement that the network has planned, without actually committing to whether more actions would be necessary. "This is Fox policy, this is the announcement made today. It does not preclude other announcements that may be made in the future. But that's what we have today, this 60-day suspension and then by May 1st a determination on whether they're going to run and then those contracts would be terminated."
In an exclusive interview given to the "Los Angeles Times" Wednesday, Fox News executive vice president of legal and business affairs said the channel will make a decision on contracts with Palin and Huckabee "as soon as each of them shows some serious intention to form an exploratory committee."
She indicated that the news organization would "take the same action" if any other contributors make serious moves toward a presidential run, noting that "Huckabee is on a book tour, so I think his present intention is to sell books," and that Palin "hasn't yet shown a serious intention to form an exploratory committee." No mention was made of Bolton.
The "Los Angeles Times" reported salaries for the contributors in question, indicating how closely each is tied to the network. Huckabee earns around $500,000 a year for a contract that extends through 2012. If Palin were to run for the presidency, she would be released from a $1 million annual contract. Palin inked a three-year deal set to extend through the end of 2012, according to the Los Angeles Times.
While Santorum made under $100,000 each year in a three-year deal set to expire in 2013, Gingrich was released from a nearly $1 million contract, according to the newspaper. He has been a contributor since 1999.
And though Huckabee told conservative radio host Bryan Fischer Wednesday that finances were not a factor in making his decision because "I understand what it is to take all your life resources and start all over again, so it's not going to be the factor that gets me in or out," he did admit that the risk of losing his Fox contract weighs on his timetable for making a decision.
"I also know that in my own contract if I take any steps officially to become a candidate, if I raise money or tell someone yeah, I am definitely running, then yeah, I'm off the air immediately," he told Fischer.
"I'm very aware of that, it's one of the reasons I'm not in a big hurry to go out and make an announcement. I'm not in a hurry to take the steps until I know for sure that I'm supposed to be a candidate, that I'm gonna be a candidate, that I want to be a candidate."
But he's made more obvious overtures toward a run, telling CNN Chief National Correspondent John King in a recent interview that part of the process of writing his new book was an intention to gauge whether others will support his ideas and, consequently, a presidential bid.
"So, what I'm saying in this, this is the message - if people read this book and say, those are some ideas I can relate to, these are ideas I think would be good for the country, then that's going to help me believe that there is real support for what I stand for," he said.
Sarah Palin recently stated that she believes she could beat President Obama in a 2012 presidential contest, but has also not yet committed to a run. Instead, she continues to dodge the will-she-or-won't-she question, saying "I am still thinking of leading this country…I haven't made up my mind," after hiring a veteran GOP strategist to helm her political action committee, SarahPAC, in February. The new chief-of-staff was a longtime adviser to presidential candidate Bob Dole. However, Palin said "We hired a chief of staff because Todd is getting tired of doing it for me."
And when asked who should top the ideal Republican ticket, she said: "No one is more qualified to multi-tasking and doing all the things you need to do as a president than a woman" and listed her qualifications, counting the roles of mayor and vice presidential candidate as part of her experience while speaking to a group of business officials in Long Island, New York. Aside from the hire, she has made no formal steps to run.
"What I would look for in terms of character is someone who's been on the front lines, who understands how to administer, how to lead a team, how to run a business," she said.
Last fall Bolton told conservative radio host Aaron Klein that he is "considering" a bid for the presidency. "If I did run, and I haven't made a decision, I have never run for office one way or the other, so it would be a pretty big decision to do it," he said.
With his foreign policy experience, Bolton addressed an area where he finds the current administration lacking. He cited concerns about national security and opined that the president "doesn't enjoy being commander-in-chief," and that Obama views national security as an "irritation, a distraction from what his real priorities are."
Fox has committed to take action in the event of an "exploratory committee" regarding Palin. The network did not respond to a call requesting further clarification of their policies.