In Arkansas, Huckabee launches second White House bid

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HOPE, Ark. (AP) -- The other man from Hope is running for president again.

Declaring Tuesday that he can bring "the kind of change that truly can get America from hope to higher ground," former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee announced his Republican candidacy in the hometown he shares with former President Bill Clinton.

Though they share roots in Hope, Huckabee is pitching himself as the best Republican to take on Bill's wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the dominant Democrat in the 2016 race.

"It seems perfectly fitting that it would be here that I announce that I am a candidate for president of the United States of America," Huckabee told hundreds of supporters.

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In Arkansas, Huckabee launches second White House bid
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee waves to supporters in Hope, Ark., Tuesday, May 5, 2015, after he announced that he is running for the Republican presidential nomination. Huckabee pitched himself as the best GOP candidate to take on Democratic favorite Hillary Rodham Clinton. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee enters a stage in Hope, Ark., before announcing his entry in the race for the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday, May 5, 2015. Huckabee pitched himself Tuesday as the best GOP candidate to take on Democratic favorite Hillary Rodham Clinton. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks to supporters after announcing his intention to run for the Republican nomination in the race for president in Hope, Ark., Tuesday, May 5, 2015. Huckabee pitched himself Tuesday as the best GOP candidate to take on Democratic favorite Hillary Rodham Clinton. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
WAUKEE, IA - APRIL 25: Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee prepares to speak to guests gathered at the Point of Grace Church for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition 2015 Spring Kickoff on April 25, 2015 in Waukee, Iowa. The Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, a conservative Christian organization, hosted 9 potential contenders for the 2016 Republican presidential nominations at the event. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
WAUKEE, IA - APRIL 25: Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee speaks to guests gathered at the Point of Grace Church for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition 2015 Spring Kickoff on April 25, 2015 in Waukee, Iowa. The Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, a conservative Christian organization, hosted 9 potential contenders for the 2016 Republican presidential nominations at the event. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
In this April 18, 2015 photo, former Arkansas Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks at the Republican Leadership Summit in Nashua, N.H. For Democratic politicians, same-sex marriage has become an easy issue: They're for it. Many Republican VIPs, notably the presidential hopefuls, face a far more complicated landscape. Some of the most conservative contenders such as Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Huckabee, are comfortable using forceful language in opposing gay marriage and railing against judges who have struck down state laws against it. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)
NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 10: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks during the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum at the 2015 NRA Annual Meeting & Exhibits on April 10, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. The annual NRA meeting and exhibit runs through Sunday. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Missy Wilcox, of Waukee, Iowa, center, holds her seven-month old daughter Sadie as she talks with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, left, and Republican Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, during the Homeschool Iowa's Capitol Day, Thursday, April 9, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
DES MOINES, IA - MARCH 07: Former Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas fields questions from Bruce Rastetter at the Iowa Ag Summit on March 7, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. The event allows the invited speakers, many of whom are potential 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls, to outline their views on agricultural issue. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee waits backstage before speaking during the Freedom Summit, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckbee, left, and his wife Janet wave as they are recognized at Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson's inauguration ceremony at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks during the Freedom Summit, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks to supporters of David Perdue senate campaign at the Smok'n Pig restaurant on Friday, Oct. 31, 2014, in Valdosta, Ga. Perdue is facing Democrat Michelle Nunn for the U.S. Senate in the general election. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)
Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks to an early morning crowd at the Smok'n Pig restaurant in support of David Purdue's senate campaign on Friday, Oct. 31, 2014, in Valdosta, Ga. Perdue is facing Democrat Michelle Nunn for the U.S. Senate in the general election. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)
FILE - In this Aug. 9, 2014 file photo, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks in Ames, Iowa. More than a dozen potential Republican candidates are contemplating White House bids in 2016 in what’s shaping up as a crowded and diverse field. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, left, sits next to Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus, right, before Huckabee spoke at the Republican National Committee winter meeting in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Former Arkansas Gov. MIke Huckabee addresses the media during a news conference held by a group supporting Republican Todd Akin Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, in Kansas City, Mo. Akin is running against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill for the Missouri Senate seat. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee laughs as he is greeted after a meeting of the Political Animals Club in Little Rock, Ark., Friday, Oct. 25, 2013. Huckabee spoke to the group early Friday. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee autographs a book after speaking at a meeting of the Political Animals Club in Little Rock, Ark., Friday, Oct. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks during The Family Leadership Summit, Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Former Arkansas Gov. and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee speaks at a GOP Freedom Summit, Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Manchester, N.H. Several potential Republican White House contenders _ among them Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Cruz, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee _ headline a conference Saturday in New Hampshire, hosted by the conservative groups Citizens United and Americans for Prosperity. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., Friday, March 7, 2014. Friday marks the second day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which brings together prospective presidential candidates, conservative opinion leaders and tea party activists from coast to coast. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee sits down for lunch before speaking at the Republican National Committee winter meeting in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. Huckabee isn’t rushing to have his name included among the crowded field of potential Republican presidential candidates. But he isn’t closing the door, either, as he meets Thursday with the GOP’s cardinals at the Republican National Committee.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks during a anti-abortion rally at Lafayette Park in Washington, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks at the Republican National Committee winter meeting in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. Huckabee isn’t rushing to have his name included among the crowded field of potential Republican presidential candidates. But he isn’t closing the door, either, as he meets Thursday with the GOP’s cardinals at the Republican National Committee. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
ANAHEIM, CA - JANUARY 22: Baseball player Bernie Williams and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee at the 2014 National Association of Music Merchants show block party at the Anaheim Convention Center on January 22, 2014 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM)
Former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Former governor of Arkansas Michael Huckabee addresses delegates during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2012, file photo, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. The Republican National Committee has announced that Huckabee will be one of the speakers at the GOP Convention. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee greets supporters at a fund-raising luncheon for a Republican Congressional candidate in Hot Springs, Ark., Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012. Huckabee's wife Janet Huckabee, center, walks through the crowd. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, left, is greeted by Republican Congressional candidate Beth Anne Rankin at a Rankin fund-raising luncheon in Hot Springs, Ark., Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
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An anti-Clinton message is one part of Huckabee's effort to expand his support beyond the social conservatives who helped him win eight states in the 2008 Republican nominating contest that eventually was won by John McCain. Huckabee is the third notable Republican to announce a presidential campaign this week, bringing the field to six, with more to come.

He argued that in his more than 10 years as governor, he took on Democrats in "Bill Clinton's Arkansas." Huckabee was elected lieutenant governor, his first public office, months after Clinton left the governor's mansion for Washington.

"I governed in a state that was the most lopsided and partisan in the country," he told supporters. "No Republican governor had more Democrats and fewer Republicans. I challenged the deeply entrenched political machine that ran this state. It was tough sledding, but I learned how to govern and how to lead."

Current Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who in 1998 was one of the House prosecutors in the impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton, joined in introducing Huckabee.

Besides the anti-Clinton emphasis, Huckabee sees himself as an economic populist and foreign affairs hawk who holds deeply conservative views on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage.

He preached a more muscular response to the rise of Islamic State militants and to Iran, vowing that "we will deal with jihadis just as we would deal with deadly snakes" and saying "ayatollahs will know that hell will freeze over before they get a nuclear weapon."

He said: "As president I promise you we will no longer merely try to contain jihadism. We will conquer it."

Yet Huckabee's position on sending U.S. ground forces to fight the Islamic State is less categorical than his rhetoric might suggest; he's said that should be done only as part of an international coalition with nations in the region such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

At home, Huckabee advocates a national consumption tax, which is similar to a sales tax, to replace the existing federal taxes on personal income and payrolls. He rejects calls for a minimum wage increase, saying his proposals will yield a "maximum wage" for workers.

A governor from 1996 to 2007, Huckabee compiled a mixed record ideologically. He both cut and raised taxes, drawing the ire of some national groups like the Club for Growth. He pleased conservatives with a late-term abortion ban but raised eyebrows by issuing more criminal pardons and sentence commutations than his three predecessors combined.

Huckabee, an author and former Fox News host, hopes to appeal to everyday Americans who "don't feel like anybody understands or knows who they are, much less cares what's happening to them."

As he put it Tuesday: "Power, money and political influence have left a lot of Americans behind."

Huckabee's potential strength among the growing number of Republican candidates rests with cultural conservatives who wield strong influence in the party's nominating process.

Evangelical Christian voters helped him win the Iowa caucuses in 2008 and finish a strong second in South Carolina, the largest of the early-voting states. Huckabee would need to replicate that early success to create an opening to build a wider coalition this time and compete deep into the primary schedule.

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