Mike Huckabee Ends Fox Show to Ponder Presidential Run

by | January 5, 2015 AT 10:01 AM

By Cathleen Decker

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee pulled the plug on his Fox News Channel talk show on Saturday in order to "gauge support" for a second presidential run.

In an email to supporters headed "Tonight I say goodbye," Huckabee alluded to the complications inherent in seeking support for a presidential campaign while holding on to a high-profile weekly post on a news channel. That same conflict caused Huckabee, in 2011, to bow out of a presidential run in 2012.

"There has been a great deal of speculation as to whether I would run for president," he said in an email. "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. 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.

"As much as I have loved doing the show, I have loved my country more and feel that it may be time for me to enter a zone of comfort to engage in the conflicts that have almost destroyed the bedrock foundations of America. I feel compelled to ascertain if the support exists strongly enough for another presidential run.

"So as we say in television: stay tuned!"

The intermediate step -- signing off television while still considering a political campaign -- was one Huckabee had dispensed with in 2011 when he said that he would "gladly" continue on television rather than run.

"All the factors say go, but my heart says no," Huckabee told viewers then. "My answer is clear and firm. I will not seek the Republican nomination for president this year."

In his 2008 campaign, Huckabee, a Southern Baptist minister, parlayed his connections among the strongly religious voters in Iowa's start-off caucuses. He won seven other contests, mostly in the South, but ultimately lost the nomination to Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Huckabee's announcement did little to clarify the potentially crowded Republican field for 2016. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced last month that he was considering a bid, and he has spent the weeks since disentangling himself from various business interests.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has spent months in a barely-disguised run-up to a campaign; Texas Gov. Rick Perry and his home-state senator, Ted Cruz, have criss-crossed the early presidential states, including Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Others pondering whether to run include Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and a handful of governors, including New Jersey's Chris Christie, Ohio's John Kasich and Wisconsin's Scott Walker. Former U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, who lost to incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer in 2010, also is looking toward a run. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman has taken himself out of contention.

The Democratic contest, at least at this early and hypothetical stage, has been dominated by former Secretary of State, New York Sen. and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. Others looking at a race include outgoing Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb. Vice President Joe Biden remains in the wings as well, and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has also traveled to Iowa to try to rev up interest in a campaign.

Times staff writer Seema Mehta contributed to this report.

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