WASHINGTON –- A South Carolina political blog reported Wednesday that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee had decided not to run for president in 2012, drawing howls of protest from the Huckabee camp.
A Huckabee spokesman called the report “absolutely ridiculous.”
“Governor Huckabee’s the front runner, so we expect a certain level of unfounded rumors and accusations lobbed our way. But this is just getting comical,” said Hogan Gidley, director of Huckabee’s political action committee.
But Gidley also said that a decision has not been made yet, despite the fact that one source told The Huffington Post that Huckabee is hiring up for a campaign to be run by Ed Rollins, the former governor’s 2008 national campaign chairman. The source told HuffPost that a Huckabee run for the White House is a done deal, but Gidley insisted that was not true.
“The governor’s been clear. He is seriously considering a run for president. He is the frontrunner. He is consistently in the lead in the polls. But he is not going to make his decision until this summer, and that has not changed,” Gidley told HuffPost.
Rollins himself has said that June 1 is the drop dead final date by which a decision must be made, and that he expects Huckabee to run.
The report in South Carolina, that Huckabee was releasing his political operatives in the state to allow them to work for other candidates, came from a political operator and blogger named Wes Donehue. During the 2008 campaign, Donehue was linked to a website attacking then-Presidential candidate and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson. Donehue was also involved in the 2010 flap over whether Gov. Nikki Haley -– then a candidate for the office -– had had an extramarital affair.
Donehue’s report set off a firestorm of activity and prompted a response from rival blogger Will Folks. Erick Erickson, the founder of the conservative site RedState.com, also tweeted a link to Donehue’s post with the message: “How I know Huckabee is out.”
But the import of what is happening in the Palmetto State, if it is true that Huckabee is setting potential campaign workers free, may be that he is letting them go in order to instead snatch up operatives who were working for Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour until his decision Monday not to run. Scott Reed, a Washington-based consultant who was running Barbour’s operation, told HuffPost that he had assembled a national network of 50 operatives spread across five early primary voting states who are all now available and ready to work.
An Arkansas-based blog, The Tolbert Report, picked up on this possibility later in the day.