In 2007, Mike Huckabee was an ex-office holder running, in effect, for talk show host. His time as governor of Arkansas over and his finances nowhere near where he wanted them to be, Huckabee, it seemed to me, was hoping to parlay a presidential run into a lucrative career doing what he does so well — talking.
Huckabee succeeded. His better than expected (other than by him) run for the GOP nomination landed him at Fox News as a talk show host.
Eight years later, it looks like Huckabee will be an ex-talk show host running for office, specifically the presidency. On Saturday, Huckabee told his talk show audience that he is leaving Fox while he decides whether to run for president. He added, “stay tuned, there’s more to come.”
How would Huckabee fare in a presidential race this time around? I don’t know, but he shouldn’t be underestimated. In my opinion, none of the candidates most widely discussed as a possible GOP standard bearer has demonstrated people-to-people political skills that match Huckabee’s. And his popularity among among evangelical voters, which probably has grown since 2008, is enough to make him seem formidable.
Huckabee would become the instant favorite in Iowa, where he won the caucus in 2008. And as the Iowa caucus winner, Huckabee would automatically become a first-tier candidate. If he could then win in South Carolina, not an impossibility, he might become the front-runner.
More likely, though, Huckabee would play the spoiler, as he did in 2008, when he helped derail Mitt Romney. Which candidates might he spoil this time?
Ted Cruz is one possibility. Cruz, reportedly, is already courting evangelical voters in Iowa, and is hoping for large-scale support from this important group throughout the nation. A Huckabee candidacy would likely represent a blow to that aspiration.
I’m not a fan of Huckabee, but no national politician speaks more powerfully for social conservatism. For this reason, I think the former governor would add value to the field.