Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) is conducting polling and gauging support for a possible 2016 presidential bid.
“I’m keeping the door open,” he told The New York Times. “I think right now the focus needs to be on 2014, but I’m mindful of the fact that there’s a real opportunity for me.”
Though he won the Iowa caucuses that year, he struggled to raise money and lagged behind his opponents. Huckabee told the Times he'd make sure to secure the necessary support if he runs again.
“If I talk to people, and they say, ‘If you run, we’re in and we’re in a big way,’ that’s going be helpful,” he said. “If I don’t hear that, you know what? This will be a real easy decision for me to make because I’ve jumped in a pool without water before, and it’s a hard hit at the bottom.”
Huckabee noted that the rise of super-PACs might make a 2016 campaign easier on that front. He said that he didn't run in 2012 because he didn't believe Obama could be beaten and that he was glad to earn some financial stability during his time as a Fox News host.
He said his polling shows him leading the GOP primary in both Iowa and South Carolina. Huckabee suggested that it would be "tough" for another leading figure in the party, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, to win in those conservative states.
Huckabee told the Christian Broadcasting Network in October that he's considering the 2016 race. He stopped in Iowa in November to headline a fundraiser for a pro-life group, and is keynoting a gathering of conservative Christian activists in the state this week.
A Des Moines Register report revealed a group of Iowa pastors are meeting with him to discuss a presidential bid, an indication he still maintains strong support with his conservative base.
Known for his populist appeal, Huckabee told the Times he believes that type of message is just what the GOP needs to win.
“If Republicans want to win, they’ve got to go get a portion of the population they’ve missed the last two election cycles, particularly working-class people and minorities who have not thought there was a message for them,” he said.