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Mike Huckabee's intentions unclear even to close aides, who say that's a sign he won't run

May 13, 2011|By Matea Gold and Mark Z. Barabak
(Larry W. Smith, EPA )

Reporting from Washington and San Francisco —

Political advisors and close associates of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee remained in the dark Friday about what he will say Saturday night when he announces his decision about whether to pursue another White House bid – an indication he has decided not to jump in the 2012 race, they said.

"My assumption is that obviously making this kind of decision without telling us sort of indicates he’s not going to run," said veteran Republican strategist Ed Rollins, who served as Huckabee’s campaign chairman in his 2008 race and has been informally advising him for the last several months.

Huckabee is scheduled to announce his decision live on his Fox News show, which airs at 8 p.m. EDT on Saturday.Another individual close to the 2008 campaign who did not want to be identified to avoid stepping on Huckabee's announcement also believes he is not running.

"I'm convinced he's announcing a no-go, because otherwise there would have been conversations over the past week leading up to announcement," the source said.

In a Friday afternoon appearance on the Fox News Channel, Huckabee offered no further clues as to the decision, and said not to trust the hunches of "people that will act like that they know all about it, and they don't."

"I have not even communicated with members of all my family until this afternoon," he told Neil Cavuto.

Rollins said Huckabee seemed to be leaning toward running two weeks ago, but then appeared less sure in their most recent conversation eight days ago.

"I think over the last couple years, he's developed a lifestyle he likes," Rollins said. "He's making money, publishing books, he has his show. I didn't [get] the sense that every day he got up in the mirror and said, 'There's the next president of the United States.' Unless you really have the fire in your gut, unless you really want to get up every day and do it, don't do it."

Associates also noted that Huckabee dislikes fund-raising, an essential aspect of a campaign.

Since losing the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, Huckabee has fashioned a lucrative post-political career as a book writer, a speaker and a contributor for Fox News, where he makes about $500,000 a year in a contract that goes through 2012.

On Thursday, he announced another venture: a new educational company, Learn Our History, that will produce animated films designed to "combat major shortcomings in current methods of teaching American history," according to the press release.

Still, there were signs Huckabee was seriously weighing the merits of another White House race.

People familiar with his activities said he spent the last few months engaged in conversations with key supporters and donors.

Despite Huckabee's doubts, Rollins said he was "as shocked as anyone" when he heard that the former governor would be announcing his decision Saturday. He said he has reached out to Huckabee, but was told he was not available. "I don’t want to crowd him," Rollins said.

"He had a great opportunity to win this thing," Rollins added, noting Huckabee's appeal to "tea party" supporters and Christian conservatives. "He's a very credible candidate, a very effective candidate. It was all there. It could have happened. But you can’t make a campaign without a candidate."

matea.gold@latimes.com

mark.barabak@latimes.com

Michael A. Memoli contributed to this report.

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