Mike Huckabee will announce whether he's running for president on his Fox News show Saturday night. The announcement of the announcement caught even his advisers off guard, and many interpret its timing and setting as a sign he's not running. Ed Rollins, who led Huckabee's 2008 campaign and has been working on his 2012 effort, told several reporters that "I have no idea what he's going to say," as he told Politico, but, "My guess is he is going to say he's not announcing a campaign."
Fox canceled its contracts with Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich after it became clear they were running. Reports said the network had given Huckabee till the end of May to decide, though both parties denied it. NBC News' Jason Seher notes that Huckabee's scheduled to appear on the Fox networks six times over the next two days. But Fox says it doesn't know if Huckabee's running, either.
Huckabee recently held a fundraiser in Washington and made other moves that indicated he was leaning toward running, but Rollins told the Wall Street Journal's Jonathan Weisman that the former Arkansas governor "started backing off" two weeks ago. His family opposed another campaign. Huckabee's 2008 campaign manager told Politico he thought Huckabee wasn't announcing any time soon (Huckabee insisted earlier this month he would decide this summer.) The director of Huckabee's political action committee said he did know Huckabee was planning something for Saturday, but "I'm just not totally sure what it is--I don't even want to venture a guess."
Huckabee has led many polls of Republican voters and is especially popular with social conservatives. The Wall Street Journal's Jonathan Weisman writes that if Huckabee drops out, that will significantly change the race, as evangelicals don't have a clear second choice candidate.
Hot Air's Ed Morrissey is puzzled by Huckabee's actions:
Thinking this through a bit further, if he’s really decided not to run, why announce it publicly now? The 2012 speculation is good for his media profile and, presumably, for his ratings. If the Fox people are pressuring him, he could reassure them privately that he’s sticking with his show; they have an incentive to keep that hush-hush for the same reason Huck does, to keep his name in the news. The only reason I can come up with is that he doesn’t want his 2008 team stuck in limbo when there are high-paying campaign jobs out there for the taking right now. But that only makes it stranger that he hasn’t tipped his inner circle to his decision yet. Unless he decided literally within the past few hours, he should have told them ASAP that they’re free to look for 2012 work elsewhere.