Mike Huckabee’s camp has sought to refute a new report that the former Arkansas governor won’t seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. This latest report comes on top of assertions by political experts that Huckabee won’t run.
A Huckabee withdrawal could bring a dark horse to the front, says pollster Scott Rasmussen, and leaves the Christian evangelical vote looking for a candidate.
The Process Story blog reported that Huckabee “is giving his former S.C. supporters the nod to seek work on other presidential campaigns. The word is that he’s told South Carolina staffers that they have his blessing for them to peddle their wares elsewhere.
“If this is true as it appears, it’s the second major shakeup. On Monday, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour surprised everyone but himself when he announced that he would not seek the GOP nod.”
Process Story points out that “Huckabee had a strong effort in South Carolina during the last run, and would have been the favorite to win the primary if he had fully committed to a run.”
Results of the latest Rasmussen Reports nationwide poll, released on Thursday, show Huckabee in third place among potential GOP candidates with 15 percent of the vote. Donald Trump leads the pack with 19 percent, followed by Mitt Romney with 17 percent.
But Scott Rasmussen, founder and president of Rasmussen Reports, tells Newsmax that a Huckabee departure from the race would not likely benefit any of the current leading contenders, and instead might help a dark horse who is yet to emerge.
The Human Events website picked up the Process Story report and added: “Further grist for the mill comes in the form of a splendid $3 million home Huckabee has under construction in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
“There was some early speculation Huckabee was trying to establish residence in Florida for political reasons, but it sounds more like he moved to Florida to retire from politics, not kick them into high gear.”
Hogan Gidley, a spokesman for Huckabee’s political action committee HuckPAC, on Thursday denied that Huckabee has decided not to seek the nomination. He said in a statement:
“National polling consistently shows Governor Huckabee is the frontrunner – so we expect a certain amount of unfounded speculation, odd rumors, and sadly, the occasional lie lobbed our way. But the Governor himself has been quite clear on this matter. He has truthfully and repeatedly stated that he is seriously considering a run for President but he won’t make that decision until this summer – and that has not changed.”
Still, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist said he doubts that Huckabee will run in 2012.
"I don't think Huckabee's running,” Norquist told The Hill on Wednesday.
He said he also believes Sarah Palin will ultimately decline to run, and opined that “both former governors might be better suited to keep their name in the running and maintain their influence in the GOP by keeping their name in the race for 2016, even if they pass on a race next year,” the Hill reported.
Also, RedState founder Erick Erickson tweeted Wednesday afternoon that Huckabee won’t be running.
Asked who might benefit if Huckabee does drop out of contention, pollster Rasmussen says:
“I think it’s awfully early in the process because we don’t even know who is going to run. My expectation is that there is going to emerge somebody who we’re not even talking about who will be a serious contender, and that person could very well benefit from Mike Huckabee dropping out.
“We have a situation right now where some big names are dominating the coverage, but they’re not likely to be the nominees.”
Huckabee has consistently polled well among Christian evangelical voters. Rasmussen was asked who they might swing their support to if Huckabee doesn’t run.
“All the polling so far has shown that the evangelical community is most enthusiastic about Mike Huckabee, then Sarah Palin,” he tells Newsmax.
“They have dominated so much of the coverage that this segment of the Republican primary electorate is going to be looking for someone, and it’s not that you could say that [Mitch] Daniels or [Mitt] Romney or somebody else will be a natural heir to this.
“There is nobody in the field right now who would be the presumptive winners of those voters.”
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