Huckabee’s 2010 fundraising, appearances stoke 2012 speculation

By Shane D’Aprile -The Hill

Mike Huckabee is endorsing candidates, appearing on the campaign trail, and raising money – all for 2010. And this increased presence has raised his profile in the 2012 White House stakes.

Adding to the presidential buzz is a recent Iowa poll that showed the former Arkansas governor leading a field of probable Republican candidates.

Several people with knowledge of Huckabee’s thinking say he is mulling another run, but for now he’ll wait and see how the GOP field takes shape, while upping his support of Republican candidates to keep his name near the top of the 2012 conversation.

If he gets the sense primary voters aren’t coalescing around an early presidential favorite, he could see an opening and make his move, those advisers say, noting Huckabee doesn’t feel pressured to get ahead of the pack.
“I think he can get into the game late,” said longtime Huckabee adviser Kirsten Fedewa. “He has the national name ID and the ability to attract top talent and a broad base of support.”

“This is not a replay of 2008,” adds Fedewa, who was Huckabee’s communications director in his 2008 presidential bid.

Last time around, Huckabee was forced to rely heavily on earned media while struggling to build a fundraising base and invest in the kind of ground game needed to run a presidential campaign.

“He’s got much more of an infrastructure this time,” said Chip Saltsman, Huckabee’s first campaign manager during his last run. “I really don’t think he has to make a quick decision on this. He can take his time.”

With former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin traversing the country ahead of the 2010 midterms and dropping tens of thousands of PAC dollars into the coffers of Republican candidates, Huckabee appears to have a newfound determination to not be left behind.

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