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    With former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee bowing out of the 2012 presidential contest as a potential Republican contender, only two remotely viable candidates remain – former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty and former Massachussetts governor Mitt Romney. Much of the rest of the field has been characterized as reminiscent of the “Star Wars” bar scene: “passionate-about-his-country-and-worked-so-hard-that-he-felt-compelled-to-seek-God’s-forgiveness” Newt Gingrich; birther Donald Trump; and conspiracy nut Michele Bachmann, to name a few.

    Huckabee Says ‘No’, Widens Open GOP Field

    Video

    Who will lead the GOP? (NBC “Today,” May 15, 2011) – Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee’s surprise announcement Saturday that he will not run for president again leaves the Republican Party with a few big-name contenders for the nomination but no clear front-runner. “Meet the Press” moderator David Gregory looks at what Huckabee’s decision means for the GOP. (03:24)

    The Associated Press and Reuters via MSNBC.com
    May 15, 2011

    WASHINGTON — Mike Huckabee’s decision to forgo a shot at the presidency further muddies the field for a worthy Republican challenger to President Barack Obama, and leaves America’s social conservatives without a clear candidate to throw their support behind.

    Huckabee on Saturday night became the latest Republican to opt out of running, declaring that he would stick with his lucrative career as a television and radio personality over a race that promises to be both costly and caustic.

    By joining Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, South Dakota Sen. John Thune and Indiana Rep. Mike Pence on the sidelines, the former Arkansas governor underlined that for all of Obama’s vulnerabilities on the economy, taking on his re-election machine and potential $1 billion treasure chest remains a daunting task.

    The 55-year-old Baptist minister insisted that he could have captured the GOP nomination, citing polls that showed he could score strong even in the Northeast and among the less conservative rank-and-file party members. “All the factors say go, but my heart says no,” Huckabee, the winner of the 2008 Iowa caucuses, said on his Fox News Channel show.

    The announcement makes an already wide-open Republican field even more unpredictable. …

    Newt Gingrich

    Onetime House Speaker Newt Gingrich has been making a concerted effort to reach out to the right. Although he’s been noting his recent conversion to Catholicism, he’s hampered by two divorces and an adulterous history.

    Mitt Romney

    Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney must explain his change of heart over the years on positions on guns, gay rights and abortion; health care also is a problem for him.

    Tim Pawlenty

    Minnesota’s ex-governor, Tim Pawlenty, has had to apologize for backing climate change legislation.

    Donald Trump

    Donald Trump? Highly unlikely.

    Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann

    With so many social conservatives looking for a home, the void could prompt 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin or Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann to get in the race. Palin has yet to say if she will run, while Bachmann is inching toward a bid. …

    Full story

    ———

    Related video: “Star Wars” bar scene

    ———

    Related reports on this site

    Left, from top to bottom: Mitt Romney, Haley Barbour and Rick Santorum are pictured. Center: A Tea party rally in Washington. Right, from top to bottom: Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty and Newt Gingrich are pictured. | AP Photos
    Left, from top to bottom: Mitt Romney, Haley Barbour, Rick Santorum. Center: A Tea Party rally in Washington. Right, from top to bottom: Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich. (Photo credit: AP via Politico)

    Shameless Birther Donald Trump (Apr. 28, 2011)

    Native Bachmann Gunning in Iowa (April 12, 2011)

    Michele Bachmann vs. Sarah Palin (April 6, 2011)

    Bachmann Running for President (March 24, 2011)

    Tea Party Presidential Primary (March 3, 2011)

    Huckabee Says Barack Obama Grew Up in Kenya (March 1, 2011)

    Michele Bachmann: Queen of the Fringe (Aug. 25, 2010)

    Dems Link Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann (Sept. 20, 2009)

    Pawlenty Compared to Bachmann (Sept. 10, 2009)

    Michele Bachmann Eyes ‘Madam President’ (Sept. 9, 2009)

    ———

    5/16/11 Update

    Who Benefits from Huck’s Absence?

    By Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Ali Weinberg

    First Read
    May 16, 2011

    After Mike Huckabee’s announcement Saturday night that he won’t run for president, all the other Republican candidates think they benefit, and there’s some truth to that. Yet right now, the biggest beneficiary would be Michele Bachmann, if she gets in.

    And next, it would be Rick Santorum. The reason: With Huck’s absence, the biggest void in the 2012 field is on the social conservative front, and Bachmann and Santorum are the only true warriors there (maybe Herman Cain to a lesser extent).

    Tim Pawlenty is also a social conservative, but he’s hardly the warrior that Bachmann and Santorum are. (Then again, Huckabee — despite his preacher past — wasn’t considered a warrior when he was Arkansas governor.)

    The void Huckabee leaves is one of the “conservative populist,” as the New York Times’ Ross Douthat captures well today.

    ———

    6/7/11 Video update

    Video

    Bachmann, the ‘great communicator’? (MSNBC “The Ed Show,” June 7, 2011) – Strategists from both side of the aisle say Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn, is a GOP front-runner for 2012. (01:20)

    ———

    FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — May 15, 2010

    Minnesota Fishing Opener


    Northern pike on Lake Kabetogama, Minnesota

    One year ago today, I welcomed the opening of Minnesota’s 2010 open-water fishing season.

    ———

    FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — May 15, 2009

    Bachmann Seeks to Block ACORN


    Rep. Michele Bachmann’s May 14, 2009 press conference with former ACORN employee Anita MonCrief and attorney Heather Heidelbaugh (vice president of the Republican National Lawyers’ Association) to explain “ACORN’s ongoing fraudulent behavior and the consequences of continuing to funnel taxpayer dollars to the organization.”

    Two years ago today, on May 15, 2009, I reported that U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn) called on Congress to block ACORN’s access to federal housing funds, citing repeated charges of voter registration fraud against the low-income advocacy group.

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    One Response to “Huckabee Exit Ups GOP ‘Nut’ Factor”
    1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Tim Pawlenty’s Personality Profile Respectful, Submissive Says:

      [...] Huckabee Exit Ups GOP ‘Nut’ Factor (May 15, 2011) [...]

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