Mike Huckabee out for 2012, citing lack of divine support; Trump, of course, takes a victory lap
Credit where due, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee knows how to tease viewers to stay for the whole show -- and leave them with a little surprise.
The governor interviewed several guests -- including former "Saved by the Bell" star and "Dancing With the Stars" runner-up Mario Lopez -- and jammed with Ted Nugent on "Cat Scratch Fever."
Huckabee then took the last few minutes of Saturday's episode of his Fox News talk show "Huckabee" to reveal his decision about being a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012.
In short, no.
He said he would have been an awesome candidate; money wasn't a problem; the wife and kids were all in; and he's terribly sorry to dash the hopes of all his ardent supporters.
But the Lord told him to sit this one out (not in so many words, of course, but during moments of solitary reflection).
As soon as he finished talking, a "Huckabee Alert" graphic flashed, and there was will-he-or-won't-he GOP contender Donald Trump, saying (with typical Trumpian bombast and a hint of humor) how Huck's a great guy and all, could've been a contender, but don't let the door hit your arse on the way out ... oh, and enjoy your money and the new house in Florida (Trump already has a house in Florida, the fabled Mar-a-Lago).
This tag-teaming of Huckabee and Trump will no doubt set pundit tongues a' wagging -- but, both are FNC regulars, so it could have been just a bit of home-team back-slapping.
(Imagine if it had been FNC commentator and repeatedly rumored GOP candidate, former vice-presidential nominee and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin ... liberal and conservative blogs could have dined out on that one for a week.) But it again proves that, while Trump's actual viability as a candidate is yet to be determined, there's no doubt he's a ....
....heckuva showman. As for Huckabee's rationale, it served the dual purpose of letting others either in or pondering the GOP race know that he would have given them a run for their money. And btw conversely, that if he doesn't like what they're doing, a word to his followers could dent their poll numbers. While allowing Huck to bow out now for an entirely internal reason that outsiders can neither confirm nor refute.
There will be those who think he used his faith as an excuse, and those who think he's perfectly sincere. Only Huckabee and the Almighty know for sure.
He also said nothing about accepting or rejecting a vice-presidential bid if the eventual GOP nominee calls on him to serve.
Huckabee took pains to emphasize that he believes he would have been neither just a regional Southern candidate nor just a favorite among social conservatives -- and that he polled well in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The inclusion of these states may or may not be a sly dig at former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who participated in the first GOP debate on May 5 on FNC, or at New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie, an oft-declared non-candidate who has recently been the object of an enthusiastic draft campaign from some Iowa GOP donors.
After all, with a TV show, a ninth book -- called "A Simple Government," all explained in 240 pages -- radio commentaries and a lucrative schedule of public appearances, it pays for Huckabee to keep his options as broad as possible.
Huckabee will join announced GOP candidate Ron Paul this morning on "Fox News Sunday" to discuss his decision. The Ticket's usual Saturday noon lineup of Sunday morning guests is here.
Scroll down for the full text of Huckabee's announcement, followed by Trump's commentary ...
"Pundits and members of the political class who have spoken with certainty about my decision to run, or not, for president 2012 are amusing, if not amazing, to think that they even knew what I didn't know until late this week.
"The past few months have been a time of deep personal reflection. Even though I wasn't actively establishing a campaign organization or seeking financial support to run again, polls have consistently put me at or near the top to be the Republican nominee.
"And when possible candidates were discussed in the media -- and despite polls that showed me in the lead -- my name would sometimes go unmentioned, while some candidates barely registering single digits were touted as a front-runner.
"But I found comfort that the nomination would not be made by commentators, columnists or consultants, but by the rank-and-file voters in the Republican primary. And their support is strong; and it's been growing.
"Concerns that I had about raising the necessary funds to be competitive, or being able to win in states outside the South, were answered when signs of strong financial support materialized, and when polls showed me winning in states like Pennsylvania, Maine, even New Jersey.
"Now, that kind of shattered the notion that I was only a regional candidate or only supported by social conservatives.
"I haven't done much toward a race because, frankly, my life was filled with work that I truly loved, right here at Fox News, and doing radio commentaries on my daily 'Huckabee Report' on 600 stations, traveling the country for speaking engagements, and helping good, conservative, pro-life candidates who are running for office.
"Other people probably thought about it more than I did.
"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 brutal and savage personal attacks. My adult children also had made it clear that they'd be with me, no matter what. And when people asked me, what would it take for me to run, I'd tell them the same thing, 'Pray for me to have clarity in the decision.'
"I don't expect everyone to understand this, but I'm a believer and a follower of Jesus Christ, and that relationship is far more important to me than any political office. For me, the discussion and decision is ultimately not a political one, not a financial one, not even a practical one. It's a spiritual one.
"The past few weeks, the external signs and signals and answers to many of the obstacles, point strongly toward running. And when I'm with people encouraging me to run, it's easy to feel the strength of their partnership and commitment to help me to the finish line.
"But only when I was alone, in quiet and reflective moments, did I have not only clarity but an inexplicable inner peace, a peace that exceeds human understanding. All the factors say, "Go!' But my heart says, 'No.'
"And that's the decision that I've made. And in it, I finally found some resolution.
"Now, look, I don't fully understand it myself, but I am sure the pundits will. But I know this, under the best of circumstances, being president is a job that takes one to the limit of his or her human capacity. To me, to do it apart from an inner confidence that I was undertaking it with God's full blessing is simply unthinkable.
"I can't know or predict the future, but I know, for now, my answer is clear and firm. I will not seek the Republican nomination for president this year.
"I'm going to gladly continue doing what I do and hopefully helping others in their campaigns for Congress, governorships and other positions.
"I'll certainly give more detail about this decision in full time, and especially to those who have faithfully and so sacrificially been part of the process.
"I know I'm going to deeply disappoint a lot of people I love. So many good and dear people have put forth extraordinary effort, and they did it without any assurance that I would even mount a campaign. And it pains me, seriously pains me, to let them down. But I also know my decision is going to delight just as many who aren't that fond of me.
"Let me say, I am eternally grateful for the faithful support of my wife, children and my real friends, who promised to stand with me, no matter what.
"I have come to believe that I would be in the race for president -- but I won't be. I will, for sure, be rededicating myself to standing for and communicating the principles of common sense, constitutional government and civil discourse that I believe are critical to the survival of this great and wonderful republic.
"From New York, this is Mike Huckabee. Good night, God bless, and, uh, I guess I'll be back next week."
"This is a special announcement. Mike Huckabee is not going to be running for president. This might be considered by some people, not necessarily me, bad news, because he is a terrific guy and, frankly, I think he'd be a terrific president.
"But a lot of people are very happy that he will not be running, especially other candidates. So, Mike, enjoy the show; your ratings are terrific; you're making a lot of money; you're building a beautiful house in Florida.
-- Kate O'Hare
Media critic Kate O’Hare is a regular Ticket contributor. She also blogs about TV at Hot Cuppa TV and is a frequent contributor at entertainment-news site Zap2it. Also follow O'Hare on Twitter @KateOH
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Photos: HuckPac.com (Huckabee); David Moir / Reuters (Trump talking).