Huckabee announces he will not seek presidency
May 14th, 2011
08:54 PM ET
11 years ago

Huckabee announces he will not seek presidency

Washington (CNN) - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee announced Saturday that he will not seek the GOP nomination for president in 2012.

Huckabee ended speculation that he would run for president during his weekly Fox News Channel show saying, "All the factors say go, but my heart says no. And that's the decision that I have made."

Indications had been mounting recently that the 2008 presidential candidate would not pursue a repeat bid for the Republican nomination for president.

He switched his residency to Florida, where he and his wife have built a home, he co-founded a company with the mission of teaching history lessons to children, and key 2008 aides moved to other campaign teams, including those of former Pawlenty and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Huckabee also failed to form a presidential exploratory committee, a critical first step in building a presidential campaign.

And with a successful television show, book deals and lucrative paid appearances, another presidential bid may be less desirable for the television and radio host - even though he's topped recent major national polls as the favored 2012 GOP candidate.

Though Huckabee asserted as recently as late April that his supporters should not make decisions based on his indecision, Saturday's announcement settles the question once and for all.

And he admitted, "The past few months have been a time of deep, personal reflection."

"I don't have an issue with my family being supportive. My wife actually has encouraged me to do it despite knowing full well that it would subject her and the rest of the family to some savage and brutal personal attacks," Huckabee said.

"I don't expect everyone to understand this ... For me the discussion and decision is ultimately not a political one, it's not a financial one, it's not even a practical one, it's a spiritual one."

He discussed the support for a potential bid and how it influenced his decision, though ultimately encouragement was not enough.

"When I'm with people encouraging me to run it's easy to feel their strength and their partnership and commitment to help me to the finish line," he said.

"But only when I was alone did I have not only clarity, but an inexplicable inner peace."

"All the factors say go, but my heart says no. And that's the decision that I have made. And in it I've finally found some resolution."

Now that he has chosen not to run, two potentially influential questions remain: whom will he support and whom will his supporters back as a second choice.

Another former governor stands to gain from Huckabee's absence in the GOP pool of presidential candidates. The most recent CNN/Opinion Research poll indicates that more Republicans would throw their weight behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney without Huckabee in the running for a GOP nomination. Of those polled, 19% said they'd back Romney if Huckabee did not run and 15% said they'd choose real estate mogul Donald Trump.

His decision to skip the race for the White House clears the way for some potential candidates, some of whom released statements right after the announcement.

"This might be considered by some people, not necessarily me, bad news because he is a terrific guy - and frankly, I think he would be a terrific president," Trump said. "But a lot of people are very happy that he will not be running, especially other candidates."

"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," former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman said in a statement.

Newt Gingrich said "there is no question" Huckabee would have been a frontrunner.

"He has achieved that prominence without a campaign simply based on his personal appeal and the attractiveness of his views and his character," Gingrich said.

He is "an important leader" within the GOP, according to former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

"Mike and I agree our nation is facing big challenges and desperately needs new leadership," he said.

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum said he looked forward to discussing with Huckabee and his supporters the "shared commitment to fight for traditional values and the rights granted to us by our forefathers."

Huckabee pledged to support other Republican candidates, even though he's out of the race.

"I can't know or predict the future but I know for now my answer is clear and simple," he said.

"I will not seek the Republican nomination for president. I'm going to gladly do what I continue to do and help others with their campaigns."

"I had come to believe that I would be in the race for president. But I won't be."

Filed under: 2012 • Mike Huckabee
soundoff (249 Responses)
  1. big Al

    I don't blame him for not running. After the person he gave clemency to murdered those 3 police officers. This was a bad choice he made and I don't feel that he would be an effective president. I want a president that is decisive and never waivers. A president that makes common sense choices and does the "right thing"!

    May 14, 2011 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  2. Tim Teller

    Co-founded a company with the mission of teaching history lessons to children, eh? Those kids are screwed.

    May 14, 2011 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  3. mike

    Is this suppose to be breaking news... I know you republican don't like Obama but damn.... CAN YOU GET A NOMINEE THAT ALTEAST WILL COMPETE. ALL I SEE IS BUNCH OF LOSERS.... com'on Doug Christie... put on some gloves and get in the ring. Make this election more interesting.

    May 14, 2011 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  4. Lisa Brennan

    Of the line up, he seems the most genuine, although, I am a Democrat and do not care for his politics, but Huckabee's leaving the group ratchets up the lunatic mentality of the remaining imbeciles. And as for Gingrich's comment on President Obama being the 'most successful Food Stamp President', ~ it's Bush run-off. Obama is still dealing with the republicans' gutting of America and that means jobs. This country is so big it takes a while for all things to become apparent, for the fall-out to become visible, for the numbers to come in. Example: It was the gutting of America under Bush, etc. that has put us where we are today; and then, now, under Obama, the republicans' want to end unemployment benefits and Food Stamp programs. Newt is an awful person with bad habits and no heart. Obama/Biden 2012

    May 14, 2011 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  5. Jon

    I'll explain the "inexplicable inner peace" Huckabee referred to. Money. He is well paid at Fox. This is the end game for many, not all, Republicans. Don't expect Palin or Trump to string it out too much longer either. Trump was in it to increase the value of his brand so he could charge more for the use of the Trump name. Mission accomplished. Palin already got two lucrative book deals, not to mention her income from speaking fees and her gig at Fox "News," so she has already accomplished her money goal as well. If she really wanted to be in government, she wouldn't have quit her job as governor. It's too bad these people can't have their foreheads branded with a big dollar sign. That way everybody would know what they're all about, not just the people who can see through their BS.

    May 14, 2011 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  6. DanteX

    Like this is some great announcement.

    Huckabee is part of the same "AXIS OF IDIOTS" that NOW constitute the modern-day Republican Party which is only interested in representing the interests of the bigots and racists and the wealthy Caucasians who have ruined this Nation.

    Huckabee should just stay in his job at the phony and racist Fake News Network with Sean Hannity and the rest of those MORONS.

    May 14, 2011 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  7. David

    At least this whacko has half a brain.

    May 14, 2011 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  8. BENJI

    He wont win anyway. He is a hypcrite racist.

    May 14, 2011 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  9. mike

    As much as the republicans like to blast Obama, they're not stupid. Obama's ratings are low for two reasons. 1) he's had to spend his presidency cleaning up Bush's mess and 2) the spread of flat out lies from republican politicians, pundits, and so called journalists.

    There's a reason republicans are lining up to NOT run for president. The better man will win and they know it isn't them.

    May 14, 2011 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  10. jimmy

    Those are nice words and all, but let's be frank...he's doing well financially right now and he knows it's going to be a difficult and costly uphill battle for any of the GOP contenders in 2012.

    May 14, 2011 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  11. frontgate

    Do any creditable republican candidates exits.
    Gingrich is a philanderer
    Ron Paul is an out right whack job
    Who is there?

    May 14, 2011 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  12. ej

    Huckabee couldn't beat the president, and I don't think he was a bonified presidential candidate. He also made some really ignorant birther statements that thinking people just wouldn't have let him get away with. He was a really average candidate, at best...

    May 14, 2011 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  13. GutsyBallSack

    Mike was a good guy who had a definite shot at the job. I'm hoping the Donald comes in now. Mitt "Flip Flop", "Say whatever, to whomever" Romney. I'd take Pallin over Romneycare.

    May 15, 2011 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  14. Sandy

    "but my heart says no" should say "but the polls say no"

    May 15, 2011 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  15. Ron

    "My wife actually has encouraged me to do it despite knowing full well that it would subject her and the rest of the family to some savage and brutal personal attacks," Huckabee said.
    He should know about subjecting people to personal attacks and untruths. He's the one who said Obama grew up in Kenya (not true) and hinted because of that Obama does not have an "American perspective."

    May 15, 2011 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  16. GutsyBallSack

    Mitt Romney – "I became an independent when Ronald Reagan became President."
    Mitt Romney – "Gay rights have my support."
    Mitt Romney – "The nation will gain the healthcare we passed in Massachussets. This is my key victory while Governor."
    Mitt Romney – "made my fortune outsourcing jobs to China."

    May 15, 2011 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  17. slavedriver

    I am sorry he is not running. This is what politics have come to. The good won't run.

    May 15, 2011 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  18. aszure less wing nut. Ron Paul 2012

    May 15, 2011 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  19. Mike from MN

    His God told him "no".

    May 15, 2011 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  20. Capt'n Crunch

    His far right wing, judgmental mores, unpopularity, and bank account tells him not to run for President. I'm sure the results of his presidential exploratory results has a lot to do with it also.

    May 15, 2011 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  21. david p. santelli

    The conservative party is blessed to have a true conservative and intellecteral and well meaning female candidate like michele bachmann she has my vote

    May 15, 2011 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  22. SS

    Very curious to see who the Repub candidate ends up being. As of the right now, every single one of the announced or potential candidates has no chance of beating Obama.

    May 15, 2011 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  23. Chuck

    Maybe there is a god after all.

    May 15, 2011 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  24. guest123

    I guess Haley Barbour will have to make racist/bigoted statements on the campaign trail all on his own now. Well, regularly occuring ones anyway.

    May 15, 2011 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  25. Klaark

    He was one of the two Republican candidates that weren't circus clowns. Things aren't looking good for the Tea Party puppets.

    May 15, 2011 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
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