LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Mike Huckabee took his presidential tease to a new level on Saturday, leaving his closest advisers in the dark as the former Arkansas governor prepared to announce on his Fox News Channel show whether he would move toward another White House bid.
Huckabee, winner of the Iowa Republican caucus in 2008, planned to announce Saturday night whether he would explore a bid for the GOP presidential nomination, although his advisers said he was unlikely to run. Ed Rollins, who chaired Huckabee's bid four years ago, said Huckabee has seemed more reluctant about running and said the fact he didn't know what Huckabee would say was a sign he was likely to forgo running for president in 2012.
But in a series of interviews on Fox Friday and Saturday previewing his announcement, Huckabee cautioned that not even his show's producer knows what he'll say on the show.
"That's kind of refreshing because for the last several months they've all known," Huckabee said on "Fox and Friends" Saturday morning, when asked about predictions by political insiders that he wouldn't run. "They've either known for sure that I was or for sure that I wasn't, when even I wasn't sure. Now that I'm sure they admit they don't know."
Huckabee's decision to run may come down to whether he's willing to give up the lucrative media career he's enjoyed since his unsuccessful presidential bid four years ago. In addition to his TV show, Huckabee hosts a nationally syndicated radio program, gives paid speeches around the country and has even launched a series of animated videos for children on American history.
The talk show is the centerpiece of Huckabee's enterprises, which have made the one-time Baptist preacher from Hope, Ark., and 10-year governor a wealthy man with a $2.2 million beachfront home under construction in Florida. Huckabee, 55, and his wife moved their residency and voter registration to the state last year.
Rollins and other advisers have said Huckabee could enter the race with a frontrunner status he didn't have as a former governor fresh out of office in 2008. But another Huckabee run would bring renewed scrutiny over his support of some tax increases in Arkansas and his record on clemency — including commuting the sentence of a man who later killed four Seattle-area police officers.
Huckabee demurred when asked on Fox whether he felt an obligation to run.
"The obligation is to love your country and serve it the best way you can. If that's being a candidate, then yes. If it's maybe in another role, maybe that's it," Huckabee said.
Andrew DeMillo can be reached at www.twitter.com/ademillo