Huckabee To Sit Out Early Debates

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Former Arkansas Governor and 2008 GOP Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee says he won’t join early Presidential debates scheduled for the spring. “I don’t want to get suckered into taking on the schedule because it’s what the media wants us to do,” Huckabee said Friday during a talk at The King’s College in New York. His comments were originally reported by the Christian Post

Politico and NBC have scheduled a debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in California for this spring and Fox News has partnered with the South Carolina GOP to plan a debate scheduled for May 5. “You want to schedule a debate for March or May, knock yourselves out,” Huckabee said. “If I’m not there, you can still have it. But I’m not going to be there.”

During his appearance at The King’s College, Mr. Huckabee told a student he won’t make an official announcement until “the latter part of the summer’ if at all.” “If I do choose to run, it’s not going to be until much, much later in the process,” he said. “You have to raise so much money to sustain the infrastructure of a campaign that lasts a year-and-a-half, versus one that might last six or seven months.”

Huckabee won the Iowa GOP presidential caucuses in 2008 and ran a spirited challenge to eventual nominee John McCain. Should he enter the 2012 field, he is expected to perform well again in Iowa where he has been polling very well. After grueling, and expensive presidential primaries in 2008, many of the top Republican candidates seem content to hold off on beginning a campaign this year. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels have both said they won’t announce plans until their legislative sessions wrap up later this spring, and front-runners, like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, have been slow to tip their hats as well.

Huckabee holds a strong evangelical base, which could be diluted if candidates such as Sarah Palin, Mike Pence or Rick Santorum decide to announce a 2012 run. Those candidates also could see a huge bump in support if Huckabee decides to stay with his day job and pass on a 2012 campaign. There is still plenty of time to mount a successful campaign for the GOP nomination but in a field that is expected to be a large one, skipping the early debates could cost votes in the long run.

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2 Responses

  1. First impression: May is not too early. Since Huck suffered from lack of a nationwide organization in 2008, it would seem to make sense for him to start early.

    But he might just have a better game plan than that. Romney is most likely to dominate second quarter fundraising. But if Huck hasnt announced yet, he cant lose a fundraising race that he isnt a part of. If Huckabees supporters are loyal enough to wait for him, he might have a shot at wowing people with big third quarter fundraising numbers and make the fall horserace story into Romney vs. Huckabee momentum.

    Huckabee is taking a chance that someone else will steal his supporters. But the early debates could have ten people makes it a little easier for someone with nationwide name recognition to just sit back for a while.

    • I agree Ben. His name recognition alone should allow him some flexibility that some of the others may not have. He does risk losing support of part of his evangelical base should a Palin, Pence or Santorum shine in the early debates. I believe he is hedging his bets on his early polling holding steady and saving his funds for a late run and for what could be a hard battle late into the process. Sounds to me like he learned from ’08 and is looking to keep his war chest full deep into the process.

      Sent from my iPhone

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