Near the end of one of the more bizarre hours so far in the 2012 presidential race, Mike Huckabee announced on his Fox News talk show “Huckabee” that he would not run for the White House.
His decision wasn’t much of a surprise — he had not given many indications that he was preparing a bid — but the way he made the announcement was. He kept viewers hanging almost the entire hour of his Saturday night Fox News show, forcing them to watch him interview Mario Lopez about healthy eating and, at one point, to play bass on “Cat Scratch Fever” with Ted Nugent. Finally, in the show’s last segment, Huckabee announced that upon quiet reflection in which he tapped into an “inexplicable inner peace,” he decided not to run. “I don’t fully understand it myself,” he said.
But that was not all. Adding to the reality TV feel of the whole hour, a split second after Huckabee signed off, Donald Trump appeared on screen. A potential 2012 aspirant himself, he congratulated Huckabee on making his decision, mentioning that the former Arkansas governor was building a home in Florida. It surely will inspire speculation that Huckabee will endorse Trump, although the host of “Celebrity Apprentice” has had a precipitous fall in the polls ever since the White House Correspondents Assn. dinner two weeks ago.
Huckabee’s decision creates an opening for a social conservative candidate, particularly in Iowa, where he won the caucus in 2008.