The book tour is the proven way to keep your name in the national headlines without being forced to commit to a potential presidential campaign. It’s worked for everyone from Sarah Palin to Tim Pawlenty — so why not for Mike Huckabee?
The former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate participated a in conference call with bloggers and reporters today and said he’s using the upcoming book tour for “A Simple Government” — which hits the bookshelves on Tuesday — to gauge the potential response to a potential presidential bid. Huckabee said the book tour would help him decide if “there is both financial and organizational support that warrants walking away from what I’m doing and getting back into the fray again.”
Huckabee lost the Republican presidential nomination to John McCain in 2008 and could have made an even stronger showing had more grassroots supports rallied around him earlier in the primary election process. He won the Iowa caucuses but, by that time, was running well behind the other hopefuls in fundraising and couldn’t translate the victory into enough momentum beyond capturing several other states and giving himself enough delegates to make himself the last to drop out.
He now hosts a popular weekend show on Fox News and has a new home in Florida that has stoked speculation Huckabee may see retirement as more attractive than the rigors of the campaign trail — something the pro-life advocate discussed on the call.
“I love to campaign, it’s one of the things that I have enjoyed the most. That is the part that’s most appealing to me about getting back in is that I truly enjoy the day-to-day rhythm of a campaign, as insane as that may sound to most people who aren’t inflicted with this disease,” Huckabee said. “But you know the thought of sitting on a telephone in some office… and just cold calling people I don’t know and begging them for money, that’s not my forte.”
The book tour affords Huckabee the chance to keep his name in the media spotlight while dragging out a decision to run in a way he said doesn’t allow “punditry to kind of set the schedule.” It includes six stops in Iowa next week, beginning Sunday in Davenport.
“It kind of gives me an opportunity to take that message to the people rather than to wait to be one of 12 people on a debate stage getting four minutes worth of questions,” Huckabee said. “I’m listening to people who are talking to me, some who supported me last time, some who didn’t. And I’m asking them, tell me what that really means, that you’re going to write a check, or that you’re going to get 50 of your friends to do it?”
Huckabee had kind words for fellow governors Mitch Daniels of Indiana and Haley Barbour of Mississippi, even though he has criticized both in the next six months for their support of a “truce” on social issues. Daniels put forward the “truce” that Barbour ultimately supported and then backed away from recently.
Of Daniels, Huckabee said: “He’s got extraordinary skill sets not only to be governor but to be president.” About Barbour, he added, he’s “the smartest political mind in America today.”
Yet, Huckabee, in an appearance before a pro-life group last week, said the abortion issue is the most important of any political issues, to him.
“For me this is an issue that — as I’ve said before — it transcends all of the political issues,” he said. “I’ve often said I would gladly lose an election before I would ever yield on the issue of the sanctity of human life.”
Still, in today’s blogger’s briefing, Huckabee said he would not endorse any potential candidate right now. “I’m not going to make a decision based on who else is in or who’s not in.” He said he will decide by summer whether to run for president.