So it looks as if Mike Huckabee is running for president again:
Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, is ending his weekend program on Fox News -- effective immediately -- as he contemplates another run for president.Maybe you think of Mike Huckabee as a pathetic hick who overperformed in 2008 and has been unworthy of serious consideration ever since -- but he's been in double digits in every national 2016 GOP poll ... or at least he was until pollsters began including Ben Carson in their candidate lists. Even with Carson in the race, Huckabee often outpolls the likes of Cruz, Rubio, Walker, and Christie. He's loved by the Christian right. And he's the clear front-runner among Iowa Republicans, according to Real Clear Politics -- he averages 15.7%, and no one else in the field averages in double digits. At Huffington Post's Pollster, he averages 17.5%, and no one else is in double digits.
"I won't make a decision about running until late in the spring of 2015, but the continued chatter has put Fox News into a position that is not fair to them," Huckabee wrote in a letter to supporters Saturday evening released before his show started airing.
"The honorable thing to do at this point is to end my tenure here at Fox so I can openly talk with potential donors and supporters and gauge support," he added....
He put it this way: "As much as I have loved doing the show, I cannot bring myself to rule out another presidential run. Oh, to be clear, I'm not making that announcement right now."
But neither of these poll averages includes Carson -- who finished second, behind Mitt Romney, in an October Bloomberg/Des Moines Register poll of Iowa Republicans. (Carson had 11%; Huckabee finished fourth, at 9%.)
I think the GOP would benefit from brackets or division play for 2016. Jesus Division: Huckabee, Carson, Santorum. Establishment Division: Bush, Christie, maybe Romney. Midwest/South Governor Division: Walker, Jindal, maybe Kasich and Pence. Ambitious Fortysomethings Going Through the Motions of Being First-Term Senators So They Can Run for President Division: Cruz, Paul, Rubio. Pick the division champions and then start the playoffs.
That's not going to happen, so the likely survivor of the scrum is going to be whichever top-tier candidate has the fewest similar candidates running in his implicit bracket. It might be Rand Paul -- the Republican financiers seem terrified of his foreign policy ideas, but their response has been to offer money to anyone and everyone who's conventionally neoconservative. (That includes Huckabee, who's a Christian Zionist and has won Sheldon Adelson's Defender of Israel award.) But that means the pro-neocon vote will be split so many different ways that Paul might actually benefit from being out of step.
On the other hand, Jeb Bush might be the guy without competition -- maybe he'll get just enough votes by being out of step on immigration and education (there are still some moderate Republicans, after all) that he'll take the nomination.
Until now, it was looking as if Ben Carson might clear the Jesus field -- the religious right loves him, and he's a fresher face than Santorum -- which could have made him the last guy standing in addition to the front-runner. But Huckabee is so well liked that he and Carson will compete for votes.
It'll be very good for America if Huckabee is in the race -- the GOP's fondness for homophobia, abortion extremism, and Ted Nugent ought to be on full display, not hidden behind a curtain to fool moderates. Run, Mike, run!