Mike Huckabee wants some respect

by
December 6, 2010

By JONATHAN MARTIN & BEN SMITH, Politico

Dial down the deafening Sarah Palin buzz for just a moment: The most consequential decision in the 2012 Republican presidential sweepstakes could be whether Mike Huckabee decides to run again – and associates say the former Arkansas governor may well take the plunge.

If Huckabee gets in, he will unquestionably be a force to be reckoned with in the fight for the nomination. He’d be the undisputed frontrunner in lead-off Iowa, where he won by nine points in 2008. He’d be the candidate to beat in South Carolina, which he narrowly lost to John McCain two years ago in part because of a divided conservative vote. His weekly Fox show, thrice-daily radio program and Grisham-like ability to crank out a book-per-year has given him a direct media presence akin to Palin’s – but without the sky-high negatives.

And should Huckabee stay out, it would create a vacuum on the right among both religious conservatives and tea party activists that would significantly re-order the race and potentially create a larger opening for Palin. He polls well with self-identified evangelicals, women and low-income voters – all blocs that also favor Palin. And a PPP poll conducted last month found that 34 percent of Huckabee supporters said that Palin is their second choice.

Yet a potential Huckabee candidacy has been little discussed, in part because of his place well outside the Republican establishment, and in part because of a conventional wisdom that he’s enjoying his current career and income too much to risk it on a run.

Huckabee, for one, is tired of being left out of the conversation and sounds increasingly like a candidate.

“I just don’t understand how it is that a person can read these polls day after day and the narrative is constantly everybody but me,” he told POLITICO. “Whether I do it or not, the fact is that if one looks at the overall body of information that’s available, nobody would be in a better position to take it all the way to November.”

Few politicians who have felt – as Huckabee did for a moment in 2008 – a real shot at the presidency pass on a second run. That Huckabee’s national footprint, along with his bank account, has grown only strengthens the rationale for a second shot.

“The polls are consistently favorable, putting me either at the top of every poll or right near it. It’s hard to ignore that, having swum in that water before when I barely registered in those very kinds of polls,” he said.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1210/45987.html#ixzz17KseZ3NO

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