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Huckabee To Say Saturday If He Will Explore Presidential Run

Michael Huckabee at the National Rifle Association annual meeting, Saturday, April 30, 2011.
Keith Srakocic
Michael Huckabee at the National Rifle Association annual meeting, Saturday, April 30, 2011.

Looks like we won't have much longer to wait to answer the question of whether Mike Huckabee, the folksy former Arkansas governor, will compete for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Huckabee will share his intentions on his Fox News Channel show Saturday evening.

There are strong reasons that argue for Huckabee to, at the very least, form an exploratory committee for a presidential run.

The Republican field to date is fairly wide open. A number of the possibilities have weaknesses that make it unlikely any one of the would be the GOP nominee. None of the announced or potential candidates who haven't taken their names off the list has caught fire with Republican voters.

But Huckabee is one of the potential candidates who polls at or near the top of virtually every survey of Republican voters.

Huckabee, a former Baptist preacher, is also well-liked by social conservatives. In 2008, their support helped Huckabee become the surprise winner of the Iowa caucuses.

The man also is a born entertainer. He's an engaging and smooth public speaker. As a bonus, he plays the bass guitar

But there's also one big reason for him not to run. Huckabee, who hails from a working class background, never had much money, even after serving as Arkansas governor.

He has since remedied that, however by relentlessly building his brand. (You can buy a Huck signature mug for $15 from his online store, for instance.) His Fox News Channel contract and a ABC Radio segment he produces called The Huckabee Report as well as book deals and paid speeches have made him wealthy.

Huckabee would have to set aside those money-making activities to run for the White House.

Here's another reason he might choose not enter the race. Huckabee would find his record as governor facing severe scrutiny, especially for his role in the commutation or parole of some Arkansas convicts.

For instance, Huckabee commuted the sentence of Maurice Clemmons in 2000 despite the objections of prosecutors. Clemmons later was the subject of a manhunt after the November 29, 2009 shooting of four Seattle police officers. Clemmons was shot dead days later by a police officer who encountered him.

Deciding against a run would spare Huckabee from searing questions about this part of his political life.

Ed Rollins, a Republican political consultant who advised Huckabee during his 2008 run, told the Wall Street Journal's Jonathan Weisman that Huckabee hasn't reached out to him.

"I've heard nothing, which indicates to me he's not running," Mr. Rollins said in an interview.

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Frank James joined NPR News in April 2009 to launch the blog, "The Two-Way," with co-blogger Mark Memmott.