WASHINGTON -- Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) said Sunday that the odds are "50-50" that he will mount a bid for the White House in 2016. Although he said he won't make a final decision until after next year's midterm elections, Huckabee's comments are the clearest sign so far that he plans to enter the presidential race.
"I would say at this point it is 50-50," Huckabee told "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace. "As people approached me and asked me about [running for president], I had friends that said, 'Let's do a poll, let's see if you're in the mix.' Those are things you listen to." In the near term, Huckabee said, he will stay focused on hosting his TV talk show. "But I'll just keep [the presidential] option open."
A former pastor, Huckabee mounted an unsuccessful campaign in 2008 for the GOP presidential nomination. His blend of economic populism and conservative Christian values struck a chord with many voters, however, and Huckabee won the Republican caucuses in West Virginia, Kansas and Iowa.
Should he run again in 2016, Huckabee could be a formidable candidate in a Republican field dominated so far by upstart senators like Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas.
On Sunday, Huckabee took a campaign-ready jab at conservatives in Congress who seem intent on slashing federal benefits for the poor and the unemployed.
"I hear politicians who resent the fact that some single mom is getting assistance to put food on the table for her three children," Huckabee said, "and those same people ... say it's perfectly OK to bail out [Wall Street] to the tune of billions for big banks run by Ivy League people."
Over the past year, House Republicans have passed drastic cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps. In September, the GOP House majority voted to strip the program of $40 billion in funding, a proposal that was soundly rejected by the Democratic-led Senate. More than 45 million Americanscurrently rely on food stamps to help supplement their nutrition.
Huckabee said he wants there to be "a calling out and attention given to the fact that through a lot of the crisis, [Beltway politicians] seem to have a big disconnection with a lot of working class people."