Huckabee lays out criteria for 'intense process' of deciding on 2012 run

An impending book tour could help Mike Huckabee decide whether to seek the GOP nomination for president in 2012, the former Arkansas governor said Monday.

Huckabee said that a national tour to promote his new book, "A Simple Government," which includes a number of stops in key primary states will help him gauge interest in his possible candidacy among both voters and professional operatives who might join his campaign.

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"Quite frankly, part of the process is to be able to gauge reaction to the message," Huckabee said of his book tour and how it plays into his decision to run again in 2012.

Huckabee will hit the road this month and the next to promote his new tome, with stops in Iowa, South Carolina and elsewhere. But even if the tour goes well, Huckabee said it still might be a while before he makes up his mind to run.

"This is a very intense process. And part of the reason I'm taking my time is because I've done this before," he said in a conference call with reporters.

The former Arkansas governor is in decent shape in early polls testing GOP voters' interest in the primary field. He is typically within the top few candidates in national polls, and enjoys solid positioning in several states, including Iowa, where he won the caucuses in 2008.

But Huckabee also acknowledged that he was looking to hire staff to help with the organizational and financial details of a possible campaign, which he admitted were a weak point of his. He said he was concerned, also, that an early start to the campaign would wear down that infrastructure.

"The more months that you have that operation, the more expensive it is to operate. And the more fatigued they get," he said.

The former Arkansas governor said he'll spend part of his book tour reaching out to potential donors in staff, in addition to his public events.


Huckabee also refused to take shots at many of his possible competitors for the Republican nomination in 2012, opting instead to praise many of the candidates.

He called Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) an "extraordinarily capable person," though Huckabee lightly rebuked Daniels's call for a "truce" in the Republican Party on social issues. He also praised Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), who's recently faced criticism over a proposal in his state to allow a license plate paying tribute to the founder of the Ku Klux Klan.

"Haley is a person of impeccable integrity when it comes to issues of race," Huckabee said.

Huckabee also said he'd be inclined to duck out of running if a clear candidate were to take control of the GOP field. He cited his admiration for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) as an example.

But Huckabee also refused to say which candidates he'd be inclined to support if he were not to run, saying that he "wouldn't want to give any names."