Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is taking a step closer to seeking the GOP presidential nomination for 2016 by becoming the headline speaker at a meeting of conservative pastors.
Huckabee appears to be laying the groundwork for another White House run by attending the Pastors and Pews event in Little Rock, Ark, sponsored by the American Renewal Project
headed by influential evangelical Christian David Lane.
"This is the first time I have seen Mike Huckabee this aggressive (about a political run) in five years," Lane told South Carolina's The State
. "From where I sit, it looks like he's running."
Huckabee, who sought the Republican nomination for the presidency in 2008, told Newsmax earlier this year that he is "not ruling out" another presidential bid.
Huckabee, host of Fox News Channel's "Huckabee," also said Republicans risk losing the vote from evangelical Christians
if they back away from their opposition to gay marriage.
An ordained Southern Baptist minister, Huckabee is due to give his address to the pastors on Thursday, the same day he's ending his nationally syndicated radio talk show
, "The Mike Huckabee Show."
Brad Adkins, of Powdersville First Baptist Church in South Carolina, a former president of the S.C. Baptist Convention, said of the 1996-2007 Arkansas governor, "I'd like to hear what he has to say. It seems like he would be a good candidate."
Pastors and Pews scheduled a series of events this year around the country, which are attended by as many as 400 evangelical pastors and their wives.
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz spoke at a Pastors and Pews meeting last month in Colombia, S.C., while Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul has also spoken at the meetings, as have fellow Republicans Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
"We have a lot more choices this time around," says Adkins, referring to potential Republican presidential candidates.
The intended goal of the Pastors and Pews meetings is to help pastors learn about politically tinged evangelical issues so that they can go back to their congregations and encourage them to vote in the midterm elections next year. According to David Brody of CBN News
, millions of evangelical Christians "simply don't vote."
The states that have been targeted by the American Renewal Project in 2014 are Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, South Carolina, Alaska, Arkansas, North Carolina, Nevada, South Dakota, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The project is an offshoot of the American Family Association, which played an instrumental role in rallying Christians to support California’s Proposition 8, which affirmed traditional marriage.
Chad Connelly, director of evangelical outreach for the Republican National Committee, is heading the Arkansas pastor's event, according to The State.
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