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Mike Huckabee has a big decision to make

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has a Fox News show, speaking gigs and books. Now he just has to decide whether he will be a Republican candidate for president in 2012.

January 20, 2011|By James Oliphant | Washington Bureau

Reporting from Washington — Sarah Palin isn't the only Republican with a big decision to make regarding her political future. You could argue that no one has benefited from the 2008 presidential race more than Mike Huckabee. His surprise finish in the Iowa caucuses and his success at winning over family-values voters has translated into a TV show on Fox News, a radio program, motivational speaking gigs and a string of bestselling books.

Basically, Huck, as he is known, has become a mini-empire. And as such, the former Arkansas governor has as much to lose perhaps as Palin should he reenter the political sphere and run for the 2012 presidential nomination.

He has good reason, however, to consider jumping in. A Washington Post-ABC News poll released this week placed Huckabee at the top of the field, with a slight edge over Palin and Mitt Romney. In an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll released Thursday, Huckabee and Romney are neck-and-neck among Republican and independent voters.

For the most part, Huckabee has refrained from showing his hand. But he's taken a visible role in the battle over the healthcare-overhaul legislation, serving as the frontman for a group dedicated to repeal. And next month, he's start out on a book tour to promote his latest work, "A Simple Government," which his publisher, Penguin Group, describes as a "commonsense and optimistic manifesto for our future."

He'll promote the book out of the box on ABC's "Good Morning America" and Fox's "Hannity," according to his publisher. His tour will then take him through Iowa, where he has been polling strongly, and South Carolina, two states critical to his presidential hopes. (And, to be fair, they're two states where his books probably do pretty well. He'll also visit North Carolina, Georgia and Louisiana.)

Huckabee, according to a press release Thursday, will be sailing on a nine-day "Alaska Freedom Cruise" in early June, right when, if history is any guide, the race should be cranking up. When GOP candidates (whoever they may be) gather for a debate in New Hampshire on June 7, Huckabee will be in Ketchikan, Alaska.

Perhaps it's a bid to attack Palin on her home turf. Both potential contenders would be vying for similar blocs of conservative voters.

Or sometimes a cruise is just a cruise.

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