A Newsmax panel concludes that while radio and TV host and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is dropping plenty of hints about seeking the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, it's all smoke and mirrors.
Last week, Huckabee, along with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum addressed more than 1,000 evangelical voters at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa.
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"We see this time and time again with figures who also happen to be in the media. Joe Scarborough has been known to flirt with the idea of running for public office. Chris Matthews has been recruited potentially to run," Kurt Bardella, president of Endeavor Strategic Communications, told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"Huckabee of course … kind of does this — well, I won't say game — and at the end of the day it gets a lot of attention. People write about it. He can sell some books, he can get more ratings on his TV show. People pay attention to what he's saying, and then he generally takes a bow and steps off the stage."
C. Edmund Wright, a columnist for Breitbart.com and American Thinker, added:
"Mike Huckabee is kind of the worst type of niche politician, and I agree with him on the social issues and on issues of faith.
"In 2008, he goes up to Iowa, and the key there is to win the 30 percent of the Iowa caucus vote — [they're] going to vote for the most overtly religious candidate, regardless of how bad they are on other issues of conservatism. It's what Rick Santorum did in 2012.
"So what we have is Iowa, New Hampshire, and then South Carolina to start and … candidates like Gov. Huckabee want to get 30 percent in Iowa and take a loss on New Hampshire into South Carolina, where losing New Hampshire is a badge of honor, and try to get the evangelical vote in South Carolina, as well. There's no chance it wins nationally, it's just a niche."
"There isn't a real great space for Huckabee to fill, a void doesn't exist in the Republican Party right now where he becomes the natural person that people would flock to anyway," Bardella continued.
"When you look at the speaking engagements he's done recently at some of these values summits, the people who have been getting the biggest reception have been Ted Cruz and Rick Perry, not Mike Huckabee."
The panel made its predictions to guest host Ben Swann.
Bardella and Wright also weighed in on the rebirth of Mitt Romney, who in recent months has been touted as a possible presidential candidate, even though he has pooh-poohed the idea.
"Mitt Romney ran an awful campaign in 2012 … I don't think there's any appetite for Mitt Romney among the Republican primary voters," Wright said.
"They ended up thinking in retrospect maybe a fighter like Newt [Gingrich] would've been a better choice, not that the Republican establishment would've ever gone along with that. But, no, I don't think in Mitt Romney's case there's any future in 2016."
Bardella said running for president "is almost a billion-dollar enterprise," which needs a strong operation.
"You have to have an entire apparatus and organization in place to successfully do it ... It's an incredibly intensive, labor-intensive operation, and you have to have an organization, and you look at the people who are really plausibly thinking about running for president, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio," he said.
"They're building an apparatus to do so and to execute it. They're not just showing up in interesting places saying, hey maybe I'll run, maybe I won't. They're actually doing the ground work … courting activists, building a national infrastructure, a national fundraising operation….
"Mike Huckabee's not doing that, and frankly neither is Mitt Romney ... We have a very strong field, a lot of candidates already out there. One of those guys will emerge as the leader going forward."
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