This time around, Huckabee would undoubtedly have more donors and more support. But campaign finances are perhaps not as big a concern as personal finances. Huckabee has never had much money -- the governor of Arkansas was the lowest-paid in the nation during many of the 11 years he served -- and his 2008 campaign was hampered by his need to make a living. Even as he stumped in Iowa and elsewhere, he had to take time off each month to make paid speeches. That's how he supported himself.
Now Huckabee, with his Fox program and other projects, is well paid for the first time in his life. But if he becomes a candidate, he'll have to leave Fox, as Gingrich and Rick Santorum have already done. (Full disclosure: I am a Fox News contributor but have no knowledge of Huckabee's arrangements with the network.)
If he runs, Huckabee, as a front-runner, would likely receive more scrutiny than ever before. In 2008, he took some hits when it was reported that he gave clemency to dangerous criminals who committed murder after he recommended they be freed. In a 2012 race, there would be a more detailed examination of his record as governor, as well as the rest of his life. For example, before politics, Huckabee spent more than a decade as a minister. How much do we know about that part of his career? Not a lot.
The prospect of a Huckabee candidacy, much less a Huckabee victory, makes a lot of Washington Republicans deeply uncomfortable. Economic conservatives dislike Huckabee for what they feel is his squishy record on taxes. Foreign-policy conservatives don't like him, either, mostly for his lack of experience with their issues. If he does mount a campaign, Huckabee would likely argue that the groups have much in common -- most social conservatives are also fiscal conservatives -- and he can win wide support. Whether that is true can only be tested by a campaign. If there is one.
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