Huckabee skipping CPAC
© Greg Nash

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) is skipping the Conservative Political Action Conference, a high-profile cattle call for potential GOP presidential hopefuls.

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Huckabee will be in early primary state South Carolina and Tennessee Thursday and Friday, bypassing an event that every other likely Republican presidential candidate plans to attend.

The decision has been expected for days, as Huckabee wasn't on early speaker lineup lists, but Huckabee's team made it official today when a spokeswoman released a schedule that included stops in the southern states but not D.C.

The move is a bit of a surprise, given how much media attention the event draws. But Huckabee might be calculating that he's better off wooing voters in South Carolina, a state he fell just short in during his 2008 presidential run, and shoring up influential religious conservatives at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Tennessee on Thursday. 

Huckabee spoke at CPAC last year but has, at times, been critical of the event, accusing it of being a "pay-for-play" event after skipping it in 2010.