The Fox News Channel, where pro-life former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee hosts a popular weekend program, has given him until the end of the month to make a decision on running for president.
Huckabee has been mulling whether or not to make a second bid for the GOP nomination and he has publicly highlighted both the pros and cons of the decisions — noting he has strong leads in the polls of many early primary states and does better in a head-to-head matchup with pro-abortion President Barack Obama than most other potential candidates.
On the downside, Huckabee says he doesn’t relish the thought of having to spend considerable time raising the tens of millions of dollars necessary to mount a competitive primary election bid and the massive money needed to take on what is expected to be a $1 billion Obama general election campaign.
A lucrative Fox News contract has also kept the former Arkansas governor on the sidelines because he has relished the opportunity to keep his name in the limelight while making a full-time salary hosting the cable television program. But various news outlets today indicate Fox officials are putting the pressure on Huckabee the way they did Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum to make a decision because of their status as Fox News contributors.
UPDATE: The Huckabee camp has responded by saying Fox has not given him a deadline.
“The governor has been clear — his timeline for a decision is this summer and that has not changed,” said HuckPAC executive director Hogan Gidley, according to Politico. “Fox is aware of the governor’s timetable and he is aware of his limitations in considering another run.”
“During a HuckPAC fundraiser yesterday in the D.C. area — Gov. Huckabee was asked about a presidential run and he told the group privately the same thing he’s said countless times publicly,” Gidley said. “The governor’s comment was tweeted by a congressman who was in the meeting: ‘people that say they definitely know I’m not running, don’t know – those that say they definitely know I am, don’t know – I don’t know.”’
Huckabee has been thought to be leaning towards not running if only because he is not setting up any official campaign apparatus but his former campaign chairman Ed Rollins has been seen in the media more recently and he planned for a scheduled appearance at the Republican Leadership Conference in Louisiana in June.
A political associate close to Rollins told Real Clear Politics, “Ed has had long and serious discussions with Mike as recently as this past weekend. He’s looking at the polls and seeing what everyone else is.”
Huckabee is also seen as leaning more towards running now that fellow southern governor Haley Barbour announced he will not be a candidate for the Republican nomination. That gives Huckabee an advantage in states like South Carolina and Florida given his regional appeal.
Should Huckabee run, RCP indicates Rollins has already lined up verbal commitments from top Republican operatives who would immediately assume leadership positions on the national campaign team.
Also, David Beasley, a former governor of South Carolina who would chair Huckabee’s efforts, told RCP Huckabee’s prospects are much better this time around than in 2008 when he had to spend so much time moving from the second tier to the first.
“I think the landscape is conducive for a Mike Huckabee entrance. Right now, we’re putting together the team and putting the word out that Mike Huckabee is seriously considering this race,” he said. “This time around it’s a whole different ballgame. He’s in a good position at this stage of the process.”
Huckabee is strongly pro-life and has kept pressing pro-life themes — saying earlier this year that abortion is the most important political issue.
“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.”
Huckabee was one of the top Republicans to respond to the social issues “truce” Indiana Gov, Mitch Daniels — himself a potential GOP presidential candidate — put forward.
“This is absolutely heartbreaking. And that one of our Republican ‘leaders’ would suggest this truce, even more so,” Huckabee said at the time. “Governor Daniels is a personal friend and a terrific Governor, and I’m very disappointed that he would think that pro-life and pro-family activists would just lie down.”
In June, Huckabee released a statement to Politico saying he took exception to the “truce” comment.
He said pro-life issues “are not bargaining chips nor or they political issues. They are moral issues.”
“I didn’t get involved in politics just to lower taxes and deficit spending though I believe in both and have done it as a governor. But I want to stay true to the basic premises of our civilization,” he said.
“Apparently, a 2012 Republican presidential prospect in an interview with a reporter has made the suggestion that the next president should call for a ‘truce’ on social issues like abortion and traditional marriage to focus on fiscal problems,” Huckabee continued. “In other words, stop fighting to end abortion and don’t make protecting traditional marriage a priority.”