Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee says he thinks about running for president every day.
Yet the 55-year-old media commentator and former Baptist preacher, leading many other prospective Republican contenders in public opinion polls, also says he is in no rush to jump into the still-unformed race for 2012.
Huckabee said his name recognition, along with his popularity, “puts me in a very different position” than in 2008, when he won the Iowa Republican caucuses in January before dropping out of the race that March. “It doesn’t mean that I can wait indefinitely, but it certainly means that I’d be smart to wait for not only the field to develop, but to not walk away from a platform where I get to determine what I want to talk about,” he said.
Huckabee, in Washington to promote his new book, “A Simple Government,” spoke about his presidential ambitions yesterday at a session with reporters hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
While he said he is “seriously contemplating” a presidential bid, Huckabee described his reticence as “based on the personal experience of having been there, done that.”
A Gallup Poll conducted Feb. 18-20 showed Huckabee leading the Republican pack in a statistical tie with two other former governors, Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Sarah Palin of Alaska, the only other prospective candidates whose support registered in the double digits. The survey put support for Huckabee at 18 percent, a six-point increase from September 2010, with Romney at 16 percent and Palin at 12 percent. The margin of error was plus or minus three percentage points.
The shape of the Republican field may become clearer in the coming weeks. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia has said he will decide by the end of this month, while South Dakota Senator John Thune announced Feb. 22 that he doesn’t plan to enter the race.
Huckabee criticized President Barack Obama for the adminstration’s decision, announced yesterday, to stop defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.
“I’m deeply disappointed, and they’re clearly out of sync with the public,” Huckabee said, adding that 33 states have similar laws. “What does the president believe he knows that citizens in all these other states don’t?”
He also dismissed a proposal presented to Obama’s debt-reduction commission last year that called for a mix of tax increases and spending cuts to rein in the deficit. Huckabee said the focus should be on spending cuts first.
“Don’t even bring it up,” he said regarding tax increases. “We have to take this incrementally, in steps, and the first step is to cut spending.”