Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will announce Saturday that his eponymous show on Fox News this weekend will be his last as he explores a repeat run for the White House in 2016, he wrote in an email to supporters Saturday.
Huckabee, who placed first in the Iowa Caucuses in 2008 but lost the nomination to Sen. John McCain, has been a Fox News host for six and a half years and ended a radio show popular among conservatives last year. Huckabee quietly looked at running in 2012, but in an appearance on his show in 2011 announced he would not run.
"All the factors say 'go', but my heart says 'no,'" Huckabee said on his show in May 2011.
Now, he is set to explore a campaign for the Oval Office, telling supporters in an email he will make his final decision by the spring of this year:
There has been a great deal of speculation as to whether I would run for President. I won't make a decision about running until late in the spring of 2015, but the continued chatter has put Fox News into a position that is not fair to them. The honorable thing to do at this point is to end my tenure here at Fox so I can openly talk with potential donors and supporters and gauge support. As much as I have loved doing the show, I love my country more, and feel that it may be time for me to enter a zone of comfort to engage in the conflicts that have almost destroyed the bedrock foundations of America. I feel compelled to ascertain if the support exists strongly enough for another Presidential run. So as we say in television, stay tuned!
Huckabee, a Baptist pastor and favorite of his party's evangelical base, teased his announcement on Twitter Saturday, telling viewers "You can watch tonight or read about it in the papers tomorrow."
"He cant rule out a presidential run and doesn't feel that it's right to continue," a person close to Huckabee said.
Due to campaign finance laws, Huckabee's show could be considered an in-kind contribution to the maybe-candidate were it to continue, necessitating its cancellation. His move follows Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's efforts over the past several weeks to quit corporate and non-profit boards that would be a conflict of interest should he formally run for the White House.
His potential entrance into the race puts pressure on other likely social conservatives candidates Sen. Ted Cruz and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who would compete for many of the same supporters. Sen. Rand Paul's political action committee previewed Huckabee's announcement by taking out Google search ads against his name Saturday afternoon linking to their website.
Huckabee is set to release a book, titled God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy, on January 20.