On his Fox News show Saturday night, Mike Huckabee dramatically announced that he would not be running in 2012. There was nothing his hour-long decision special was missing: "Saved by the Bell's" Mario Lopez. A "rock-out" with Ted Nugent. Consulting of religious signs. And a cameo by Donald Trump.
Huckabee's decision not to run was not a political or practical one, but rather a "spiritual" one. "I'm a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, and that is more important to me than any political office," he said. The past few weeks, he went on, were full of signs that he should run. But after deep, personal reflection, Huckabee said he found clarity and "an inexplicable inner peace, a peace that exceeds human understanding. All the factors say go, but my heart says no. And that's the decision I made."
Huckabee made clear that this decision had nothing to do with funding or his popularity. "Polls have consistently put me near or at the top," he said. "Concerns I had about raising the necessary funds.. were answered... That kind of scattered the notion that I was a regional candidate or only supported by social conservatives."
He furthermore dispelled rumors that his decision came about because his family was not supportive. "I don't have an issue with my family being supportive. My wife has actually encouraged me to do it," said Huckabee, despite knowing they would be subject to "brutal, savage attacks."
His announcement made for a bizarre television spectacle. The world has been waiting on tenterhooks for Huckabee's message, after he mysteriously declared it would occur on air Saturday night. But the announcement didn't come right away. For the first 50 minutes of his show, there was an incongruous prelude that required viewers to sit through an interview with Mario Lopez and a musical act with vocal anti-immigration proponent Ted Nugent. It's difficult to describe. As Bob Cusack tweeted: "Huckabee's decision tonight has a similar feel to when LeBron announced on ESPN that he was going to the Miami Heat. Well, not really."
And Huckabee continued to play his audience to the very end. With only ten minutes left, he cut to commercial, saying that when he returned, he would have a "very special personal announcement" that would "affect the future of the show." The future of the show, it turns out, will be much like its present: "I'll be back next week, I guess" Huckabee said, somewhat sadly.
But the shenanigans weren't over! After Huckabee's announcement, there was a cutaway to Donald Trump! Seriously! In a jarring close-up, Trump was second to announce the big news and first to share his thoughts: "A lot of people are very happy that he will not be running, especially other candidates." To Huckabee, he said, "Enjoy the show, you're making a lot of money, you're building a beautiful house in Florida. Good luck." Fade to black.
Video of Huckabee's announcement, courtesy of Mediaite, is below.
And video of Trump cutting in with his own announcement about the announcement: