WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Mike Huckabee has been approached by conservative activists unhappy with the current crop of Republican and presidential hopefuls, sources told Reuters, but the former Arkansas governor said he is not seriously considering a run.
Many polls show President Barack Obama ahead of his potential rivals in 2012, forcing Republicans to look outside the current field of candidates for a possible challenger, including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
After Reuters reported that Huckabee had been approached recently, he said he was unlikely to enter the race.
“I don’t see it happening,” Huckabee told Fox News, unless he said, someone presented him with 50 million dollars up front. “I don’t see the pathway financially and organizationally, you know, to get there.”
But the conservative Huckabee, who appeals to evangelical Christians and is seen as an effective campaigner, had been weighing the idea, according to two sources who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity.
“He is entertaining the request for conversations about it,” one of the sources close to Huckabee said. “I do not think it is a complete 100 percent ‘I’m reconsidering’ but he hasn’t shut the door on it.”
Huckabee made a splash by winning the Iowa caucuses as a candidate in 2008 but later faded.
A second source said Huckabee was urged to enter the 2012 race after recent stumbles by Texas Governor Rick Perry, who appeals to a similar right wing of the Republican party.
“I spoke to him directly,” this person said. “He is a political student and he understands the race is still there to be won.”
“I do know there are concerted efforts to get him in,” said a third source, a former Huckabee advisor. “As of this time, the governor has not told anyone he is entering.”
A top official for HuckPAC, a Huckabee fundraising group, said there is no truth to the notion that he would jump in.
“The governor is still content with his decision to stay out of the race,” the official said.
Perry, now the frontrunner in the Republican race in national polls, has lost some momentum since a lackluster debate performance last week and dismay by potential backers to his moderate stance on immigration.
Huckabee is a former Baptist minister who takes solid right positions on matters important to the Republican base — including abortion and gay marriage.
That would put him in competition for fans of Perry and Representative Michele Bachmann, whose support has dwindled in the past month.
But despite strong support likely in early voting state Iowa, the hurdles for Huckabee would be steep, with more states squeezing primaries into a shorter timeframe requiring more cash earlier, said Tim Hagle, a political science professor at the University of Iowa.
“Even if they like Huckabee they probably would not just drop their current candidate,” Hagle said. “Republicans are going to shoot themselves in the foot looking for the perfect candidate because that candidate does not exist.”
Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Steve Holland; editing by Anthony Boadle