Mike Huckabee plans to announce his candidacy for president Tuesday in the Arkansas town that he and Bill Clinton both call home, but the former Fox News host is not shying away from the comparisons as he promises to run as a different kind of Man from Hope.
"On his first day in office, Governor Huckabee's door was nailed shut. It was in Bill Clinton's Arkansas," said Rex Nelson, a former Democrat-Gazette reporter, in the opening to a pre-announcement video released by Huckabee on Friday.
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Offering a glimpse of his campaign theme, the former Arkansas governor promises that he would be a unifying force who would fight for the middle class.
"We didn't slash, burn, hurt people, leave people impoverished. We empowered people to live a better life," Huckabee says in the video.
It is not a mistake that Huckabee has chosen to launch his latest presidential campaign in Hope.
"I obviously can't give you a preview of the speech, but the backdrop is important because that's where he grew up. It's home. It's where his friends live. It's where he graduated from high school. It's where his wife is from," Huckabee spokesman Hogan Gidley tells Politico
Beginning his run in Hope also speaks to who Huckabee is not, specifically that he is not like the town's more famous son.
"I'll be shocked if he doesn't use it as a way to contrast himself with the Clinton machine. I think he can use it to emphasize himself as the 'un-Clinton,'" Jay Barth, a political science professor at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, says in an interview with Politico.
Huckabee's focus on his roots in rural America was a theme he employed when he launched his 2008 campaign.
"One of the reasons that I'm running for president is because I think that America needs folks who understand what it is to start at the bottom of the ladder and climb their way to the top," he told NBC News' Tim Russert in 2007
, the day before he filed papers to establish a presidential exploratory committee.
Although much has changed since that appearance, Huckabee is already facing the same questions that were posed by Russert about the role his faith plays in his political life.
In 2007, he told Russert that his "faith explains me," a comment that was echoed in a recent interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN).
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"It's what I believe. It's not a political position for me. It's a position that comes deep from within the principles that I have adhered to since I was a teenager, became a believer, still believe the scripture is the word of God," he told CBN's David Brody last week.
Asked whether he was concerned about other GOP candidates aggressively courting the evangelical vote, Huckabee said he felt he had nothing to prove in terms of the depth of his faith.
"But I don't think I have to go into this with any sense of let me prove to you that I really have these values. People can go back and talk to the people I went to high school with. Dig as deep as you want to go. This is who I am," the former Arkansas governor said.
In an ever-growing field of Republican candidates, Huckabee finds himself in the second-tier, according to the RealClearPolitics average
of recent primary polls.
In a recent CNN/ORC poll
, Huckabee is in fourth place with 9 percent support.
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