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Mike Huckabee ends Fox show to explore 2016 White House bid

Former Arkansas governor wants to “openly talk with potential donors and supporters”

♦By Rich Shumate, editor

arkansas mugWASHINGTON (CFP) — Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has bowed out of his long-running Saturday evening talk show on the Fox News Channel to explore a 2016 presidential bid.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee

In a January 4 Facebook post, Huckabee said “continued chatter” about a possible White House run “has put Fox News into a position that is not fair to them.”

“As much as I have loved doing the show, I love my country more, and feel that it may be time for me to leave a zone of comfort to engage in the conflicts that have almost destroyed the bedrock foundations of America,” he said.

Huckabee said he will not make a final decision on whether to run until late spring.

Huckabee’s Fox show debuted in September 2008, just six months after he ended his unsuccessful campaign for the GOP presidential nomination. In 2012, Huckabee decided to stick with his show rather than run for the White House again.

He called the show “the ride of a lifetime, and I have never had so much fun in my life.”

The Fox News Channel has a policy of not employing announced political candidates as hosts or commentators, which has forced a number of high-profile Republicans off the air in recent years, including Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Scott Brown.

Huckabee, 59, a Baptist pastor, served as Arkansas governor from 1996 to 2007. With strong support from social conservatives, he won the Iowa caucuses in 2008 and took seven other primaries, mostly in the South, before conceding to the eventual nominee, U.S. Senator John McCain.

Huckabee is one of eight Southerners — seven Republicans and one Democrat — considering a White House bid in 2008.

Among the potential Southern GOP candidates are former Florida Governor Jeb Bush; U.S. Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida; and Governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Rick Perry of Texas.

On the Democratic side, former U.S. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia has already launched an exploratory committee for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination — a race that’s expected to be dominated by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a former first lady of Arkansas.

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