Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee announced Saturday that he would not run for president in 2012, saying it was a spiritual decision.
"All the factors say go, but my heart says no," he said.
Huckabee made the announcement Saturday night on his Fox News Channel show.
"I can’t know or predict the future, but I know for now my answer is clear and firm. I will not seek the Republican nomination for president this year. I'm going to continue doing what I do," Huckabee said.
“I know I’m going to deeply disappoint a lot of people I love. It pains me, seriously pains me to let them down. But I also know my decision is going to delight just as many who aren’t that fond of me."
Huckabee said he made his decision after careful thought and consideration.
"Only when I was alone, in quiet and reflective moments, did I have not only clarity but an inexplicable inner peace," he said.
"Being president is a job that takes one to the limit of his or her human capacity. For me, to do it apart from the inner confidence that I was undertaking it without God's full blessing is simply unthinkable."
Since winning the Iowa Republican caucus in 2008, Huckabee has remained popular with voters. In the lastest Associated Press-GfK poll, Huckabee was viewed favorably by 72 percent of Republican voters -- the highest rating for any Republican whose name has been mentioned as a possbile 2012 GOP candidate.
Huckabee also has developed a lucrative career and maintained his national recognition by hosting his show on Fox News, hosting his nationally syndicated "Huckabee Report" radio program, earning money by giving paid speeches, and by starting a new company called Learn Our History to create a series of animated videos aimed at children.
“It completely changes the race,” former Republican National Committee Chairman Rich Bond told Bloomberg News. “Removing the Iowa front-runner from the race is a very big deal. ... It just makes it very, very wide open race.”
Huckabee's decision -- along with previous announcements by Rep. Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich that they will seek the White House in 2012 -- have shifted the tectonic plates of GOP politics, even as a resurgent
President Barack Obama tirelessly raises campaign cash while rousing the Democratic base.
Sources say another major announcement could come any day: Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is soon expected to declare whether he’s going to enter the GOP fray.
University of Virginia political science expert Dr. Larry Sabato tells Newsmax: “Yes, the starting gun has sounded and they’re off and running -- at least a lot of them. It’s definitely time, some would say past time.”
For months, pundits have wondered when GOP hopefuls would make their move. With three announcements in the past week, it looks like the logjam has been broken.
Several of the most talked about prospects -- former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and billionaire Donald Trump -- have yet to disclose their intentions.
But the clock on their potential candidacies appears to be ticking, now that other candidates have made their decisions and are beginning to line up supporters.
Another factor for those still on the sidelines: The resurgence of Obama following the successful kill mission against Osama bin Laden.
Obama spent the early part of the week taking victory laps, targeting Latinos, and mocking Republicans for supposedly wanting to build alligator-filled moats along the southern border. Then he jetted off to two Democratic fundraisers in Austin, Texas.
Obama’s stepped up political schedule effectively throws down the gauntlet to any GOP rivals. “Defeating an incumbent president is a long, tough, uphill trek,” remarks Sabato.
Next week Obama turns his sights back to the global stage. He’s reportedly planning to make a major outreach address to the troubled nations in the Middle East. He also has meetings planned with Israeli leaders and Saudi Arabian officials.
Democratic pollster, Fox contributor, and author Douglas Schoen tells Newsmax that the 2012 contest remains in its early stages and is very much in flux.
“This race is still unformed, and Obama is still in command,” he says. “Notwithstanding the spate of candidate announcements, Obama’s main opponent is still the economy. It’s not yet the Republicans.”
Efforts to wrest the White House from Democrats look to be more complex following the death of bin Laden. Most pundits expect his bump in the Obama polls to rapidly dissipate. But taking out bin Laden has made it harder to characterize Obama as a “dithering” president indecisive in executing U.S. foreign policy.
Sabato says Republican success in 2012 hinges on finding the right candidate.
“They need to find a nominee who is simultaneously exciting and experienced … someone who energizes the base while reassuring the broad body of Americans that he or she could sit in the Oval Office and make reasonable, life-and-death decisions,” he said.
Republicans received one bright bit of news at week’s end, with the announcement that incumbent Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl of Wisconsin has decided to retire.
Kohl’s announcement, along with Wisconsin’s newfound status as a possible swing state, ensures that Wisconsin will become the focus of intense political activity in the run-up to November 2012. Pundits expect a spate of recall elections, following GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s strong stance on limiting the power of public-employee unions,
“Wisconsin is one of 2012’s ‘ground zeroes,’ no question,” says Sabato. “This additional seat for the Democrats to defend makes holding the Senate that much tougher.”
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