May 15, 2011 6:32 am

Huckabee out of US presidential race

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Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, said on Saturday that he would not seek the Republican nomination for the 2012 presidential election because he did not feel he had the backing of God for the campaign.

In an unconventional move, Mr Huckabee made the announcement on live television at the end of his show on Fox News on Saturday night.

“The decision is not a financial or economic one, it’s a spiritual one,” he said. “I had inexplicable inner peace. All the factors said ‘go’, and my heart says ‘no’,” he added. He initiated a “prayer chain” to help him decide whether or not to run for the presidency last week.

Mr Huckabee is an ordained Southern Baptist minister and is popular amongst religious conservatives and his candidacy would have focused on social issues. He was expected to do well in southern states, the so-called “Bible belt”.

But he recently founded a new company, Learn Our History, which teaches American history through the means of animated videos. The opening animation lauds the achievements of conservative icon Ronald Reagan.

He had been expected to run given his strong showing in his first attempt for the presidency in 2008, gaining national attention when he won the Iowa caucus at the beginning of the campaign, beating second-placed Mitt Romney by 10 percentage points. All told, he finished second only to John McCain in the final delegate count.

His public profile continued to rise in the aftermath, with Fox News giving him an influential primetime slot to present a talk show, Huckabee.

The 2012 election cycle is likely to take a much keener focus on issues related to the economy and job creation, which could make Mr Huckabee’s religious credentials less relevant. However, he had been encouraged to run because the Republican field for 2012 is seen as thin on stand-out candidates.

Republicans who have thrown their hats into the ring include Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor; former House speaker Newt Gingrich; Ron Paul, the libertarian congressman from Texas; and Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota.

Other potential candidates, who have not yet declared, may include Indiana governor Mitch Daniels; property tycoon Donald Trump; Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann; and Sarah Palin, former Alaskan governor and running mate of John McCain, the 2008 Republican nominee.

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