Huckabee, TV-savvy ex-preacher, enters White House race
Fox News personality Mike Huckabee threw his hat in the race for the US presidency Tuesday, joining a swelling crowd of contenders for the Republican nomination.
The conservative Huckabee, a former Baptist minister who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican ticket seven years ago, announced at his campaign debut that he is taking another shot at the world’s top job.
“With your help and God’s, we will make the journey from Hope to higher ground,” Huckabee told a cheering crowd in his home town of Hope, Arkansas.
Huckabee, 59, is a former governor of Arkansas, the same post Bill Clinton held when he won the presidential election in 1992. Both men hail from Hope.
Huckabee aims to draw rural, Christian evangelicals, the same voters who flocked to his campaign in 2008 when he won the important early-deciding state of Iowa and seven other states before bowing to eventual Republican nominee John McCain.
But the party suddenly has half a dozen official contestants for the 2016 White House race, including other core conservatives like Senators Ted Cruz battling for the same votes.
Former Hewlett Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina and conservative Ben Carson, an African-American retired neurosurgeon who has voiced strong opposition to President Barack Obama, joined the race Monday.
Several more are expected to launch campaigns in coming months, including poll-toppers Jeb Bush, son and brother of two presidents, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, as well as Texas ex-governor Rick Perry and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Prior to his political career, Huckabee spent several years as a minister as well as a religious broadcaster.
Since the 2008 race, he has been an outspoken advocate for protecting religious freedom and has urged a tough stance on snuffing out the radical jihadist movement in the Middle East.
“As president, I promise you will get what you pay for,” he said.
It will no longer be sufficient to “contain jihadism, we will conquer it,” he added.
Huckabee also attacked Obama for failing to live up to his promise as a “virtually unknown freshman senator” who spoke eloquently about America’s challenges.
“Eight years later, our debt has more than doubled, America’s leadership in the world has evaporated, and the country is more polarized than ever in my lifetime,” he said.
“We were promised hope, but it was just talk.”
Huckabee hosted the eponymous “Huckabee” talk show on Fox New Channel from 2008 until January 3, 2015.
“God hasn’t put me on Earth just to have a good time or to make a good living,” he said in announcing his Fox departure.
On economic issues, however, Huckabee was already being targeted by the anti-tax Club for Growth as not conservative enough.
“Huckabee’s record of high taxes and big spending, and his continued defense of that record, still ranks him among the worst GOP presidential contenders on the crucial issues of cutting the size, scope, and cost of government, and lowering taxes,” the club’s president David McIntosh said in a statement.