The race for Mike Huckabee’s endorsement is on

Amanda Carey Contributor
Font Size:

With former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s announcement Saturday night that he will not be making a second run for the White House, the race for the popular, one-time candidate’s endorsement is on.

Several potential 2012 candidates released statements in response to Huckabee’s decision just minutes after he announced it on his Fox News show “Huckabee.”

“Our country has been very fortunate to have Mike Huckabee as a leader and public servant,” said former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who just recently ended his tenure as U.S. Ambassador to China and is widely expected to be a contender for the White House in 2012. “His commitment to this country and its core values – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – is a model to which all elected officials should aspire.”

Huntsman went on to say it is “unfortunate we will not have his voice – or his bass guitar – in the presidential debate, as our party would have benefited from his involvement…I look forward to his continued friendship.”

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty also responded to the announcement in a statement: “Mike Huckabee is a friend and colleague; and an important leader within the Republican Party. Mike and I agree our nation is facing big challenges and desperately needs new leadership, and I plan to work hard to earn the support of millions of Americans who have supported him.”

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum released a statement saying he was looking forward to a “dialogue with Governor Huckabee and his supporters to talk of our shared commitment to fight for traditional values and the rights granted to us by our forefathers.”

Santorum also said that he has “long admired Governor Huckabee and his commitment to talking about the critical issues facing America.”

Santorum, a strong social conservative, stands to gain a lot by Huckabee’s decision not to run, especially in early states like Iowa.

Even real estate mogul and potential 2012 candidate Donald Trump responded to the decision in a special address on Fox News immediately following Huckabee’s announcement.

“I’m Donald Trump and this is a special announcement,” Trump said sitting behind a desk in what appeared to be one of his offices. “Mike Huckabee is not going to be running for president. This might be considered by some people, not necessarily me, bad news because he is a terrific guy — and frankly I think he would be a terrific president. But a lot of people are very happy that he will not be running, especially other candidates. So, Mike, enjoy the show. Your ratings are terrific. You’re making a lot of money. You’re building a beautiful house in Florida. Good luck.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who announced his candidacy last week, released a statement calling Huckabee a “new star for the Republican Party” and saying that there is “no question he would have been a frontrunner in the 2012 campaign for president.”

“He has achieved that prominence without a campaign simply based on his personal appeal and the attractiveness of his views and his character,” Gingrich added.

Since Huckabee consistently registered at or near the top of polls surveying potential Republican presidential contenders, his endorsement will likely be viewed as significant.