Mike Huckabee had not stepped foot into Iowa since February 24th until he arrived in Des Moines on Sunday afternoon. In February, Huckabee came to Iowa to help Bob Vander Plaats raise money for his gubernatorial campaign. He also appeared at a fundraiser for the Iowa Family Policy Center (IFPC) in Des Moines that same day.
With the 2010 campaigns in the books, Huckabee is back, and once again, he is raising money for Vander Plaats, who is now the President and CEO of the Family Leader, the parent organization of IFPC and its other subsidiaries. The 2008 caucus winner also didn’t hide the fact that he is considering making another run at the presidency in 2012.
Huckabee told Iowa reporters on Sunday, “Honestly, I’m not on a timetable. I’m not on somebody’s calendar to say that this is the time that I have to decide. Am I keeping the option open? Yes. Am I open to it, considering it, giving it thought? Of course. I think I’d be foolish not to in light of having been thought it, understanding what its about.“
His candidness about a potential second run is not surprising. Throughout the 2008 caucus campaign, Huckabee displayed a knack for being upfront and honest with Iowa caucus goers. It is one of the many characteristics that helped his campaign go from mere obscurity to being talked about by every major media outlet in the country.
Being the dark horse candidate to emerge from the Iowa Caucuses provided Huckabee an enormous boost heading into the other early contests like New Hampshire and South Carolina. If he does run in 2012, Huckabee isn’t going to surprise anyone in Iowa, but he seems to know and appreciate the position he now finds himself in.
“I’m in a very different place than I was in four years ago when I was an asterisk in the poll,” Huckabee said. “Most people didn’t think I was even going to be serious [in 2007]. This time, in most of the national polls, I’m at the top or near the top of the polls. That is certainly a different position to be in. But it doesn’t automatically mean I’m going to do it either. There is a lot of deep internal soul searching. As I’ve told a lot of people, I’m not going to jump into a pool unless there is water in it. I’ve been there and done that,” he added.
Huckabee has proved that he can win the Iowa caucuses. Also, with the success of constitutional and socially conservative candidates in the last election cycle, as well as the success the anti-retention campaign had in ousting three Iowa Supreme Court Justices because of their gay marriage ruling, there is nothing but positive signs coming from Iowa for Huckabee.
If Huckabee runs, he will be the frontrunner in the Iowa Caucuses. The only potential candidate that could take that advantage away from him would be Sarah Palin, and that’s only if she is willing to put in the same amount of time and effort that Huckabee put into his 2008 caucus campaign.
Huckabee told reporters that he’s not going to let what other candidates do effect his decision making process, but he did admit that Palin will be a major factor in the race if she runs.
“No question, she will be a very, very, strong presence and force if she gets in. She may run away with it. That’s one of the things that everybody has to prepare for. The decision that I make will not be based on what she does. If I get in it, I prefer that she not, and she endorses me, Huckabee joked. “If she does, I welcome her because she has a strong and important voice, [and] has brought a lot of energy to the Republican Party.”
Whether or not Palin runs, Huckabee will have significant support in Iowa. While it is a huge advantage to have an existing base in the First-in-the-Nation caucus state, what he really needs to determine is whether he has what it takes to win in other early states. To run that kind of campaign, he will need solid financial backing like the other national frontrunners.
When TheIowaRepublican.com asked Huckabee how his decision-making process is different now that it was in 2007, Huckabee said, “In many ways there are a lot of similarities. I want to know that my family is 100% behind any decision that I make. I want to know that there is a strong level of financial support. I’m probably going to give that more weight than I did before, because I understand far better than I can even begin tell you how tough it is to run a campaign on fumes without fuel.”
His answer provides us with a glimpse of just how seriously he is considering a 2012 run. It is obvious that he’s has thought about how much money it would take to run a serious campaign. Hearing him admit that he will need major financial backing before pulling the trigger on a 2012 campaign provides us with some insight to what he is likely to be focused on between now and early spring.
Huckabee looked and sounded like a presidential candidate on Sunday. If he doesn’t ultimately run, the Iowa caucuses will be wide open. If he does run, he’s going to have plenty of competition from conservative candidates. While he ultimately was allowed to be the only legitimate candidate left for social conservatives in 2008, candidates like Palin, Rick Santorum, and even Newt Gingrich could compete with him for those traditional caucus goers next time around.
Below is video from Huckabee’s press conference.
Photo by Dave Davidson
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