Excerpts from former Gov. Mike Huckabee's Remarks
"A Simple Government"
National Press Club
February 24, 2011

In many ways I'm being asked the question not once, not ten times, but a hundred times: are you going to run for president?  And no matter how many different ways I say it, there's about a hundred different ways that people report it.  I'll once again try to say to you that it is very much an option that I am considering, and I'm seriously and genuinely contemplating it.  But I'm also wanting to make sure that people understand where I stand, what I believe and what I think America's priorities ought to be.  Part of the reason for writing the book is to let people have a clear insight so they'll know on the front end before I run and before they commit.  And part of the purpose in the book was to say: here I stand.

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This is an attempt on my part to say here I stand.  Here's what I believe.  And the question that you probably want to ask is: are you going to run?  The question that I have for America is: do you think this message resonates with you?  If it does, that gives me a whole lot more encouragement to go put myself through the sausage grinder of the campaign.

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You can't raise money unless you declare a candidacy.  And so you know I'm in a very delicate position.  If I declare a candidacy I also give up my job, and I need to make sure I'm ready to give up my job by declaring candidacy.  Those two happen simultaneously for me.  Some people like the folks in Congress, they get to draw a paycheck even if they don't show up for two years.  They get to go all over the country and campaign on my dime, as a taxpayer.  They get their full benefits and retirement and health benefits paid, and they never have to come to the office.  They can even have staffers doing research for them and all sorts of stuff.  I'm going to be in a little different position.  The day I say I'm running, that's the day I don't have an income.

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I don't see the other Republicans as being enemies or opponents as much as I do people who would like the same opportunity to challenge President Obama.  What I would hope is that all the Republicans could have sort of—if not a spoken at least an unspoken understanding that there's no value in us hacking each other up in the primary because all it does is make it even more difficult for the eventual winner to succeed in the general election, and that what we need to do is show the contrast that we have between ourselves and Barack Obama and where he's taking the country not so much the differences, often which will be extremely slight, between each of us.  We'll state those positions and I think the voters are smart enough to figure out where the differences are without us trying to shine some spotlight on a tiny portion of it, often greatly distorted from reality.

[Question continues...How tough will the president be?]

He's going to be tough.   You know I made some comments last week that were interpreted to say that it was like he was impossible.  And people took that to mean that I wasn't going to run because I thought nobody could beat Obama.  That's not what I said.  So let me say it again.  I think he can be beaten.  I think there's a likelihood he will be beaten because the electoral map has dramatically shifted.  States like Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia are now more likely to be in a Republican column than they are to be in a Democratic column.  Those states alone turn the election completely. 

But having said that, I'm just speaking the reality.  When Republicans act giddy and start measuring the drapes, you know for the family quarters, I just want to remind them that this guy's going to be sitting on a billion dollars in a campaign fund and he is the incumbent president and while the Republicans are battling it out in what will be a very protracted primary, unlike the one four years ago—it was all frontloaded, it was over in 60 days, and for some people it was over in less than that. 

This is going to go out for a while for two reasons.  One, the calendar has been stretched dramatically from where it was four years ago.  And the second one is that states that were all winner-take-all are now proportionate, so nobody's going to be able to sweep up all the delegates in the first few—the mechanics of the campaign are going to be dramatically different than four years ago.

And for all the people who say you're sure getting a late start—  I asked a reporter the other day who talked about how late it was, I said let me ask you how many other candidates are out there announced yet?  He paused; he said nobody.  I said okay who's late?

Why would we jump into something, any of us, if in order to sustain a campaign, you've backloaded your cost and infrastructure to a degree you can't sustain it?  There's a finite amount of money that's going to be out there in the Republican primary.  So if eight people run or if 15 people run, now you have to start splitting that up.  If your campaign is going to be a 12-month endeavor, that's a very different prospect than if it's an 18-month endeavor.  And Bill Clinton didn't announce his candidacy for the presidency until October of 1991, and he defeated an incumbent president a year later.  So you know I think the calendar is something that sometimes the pundits create, but the candidates are the ones that need to create it because they're the ones who have to live with it and fund it.