In Arkansas, Huckabee launches second White House bid

Huckabee Looks for Room in a Crowded GOP Field

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 governor Mike Huckabee speaks to the media at Trump Tower in New York City on November 18, 2016. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
THE VIEW - In their first joint interview since the 2016 presidential election, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her father, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee will appear on ABC's 'The View,' live WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 2017. 'The View' airs Monday-Friday (11:00 am-12:00 pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images) SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, MIKE HUCKABEE
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 20: Governor Mike Huckabee speaks at the ARTSPEAK@RNCpanel as John Sanchez listens at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum on July 20, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images for NAMM)
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 20: Governor Mike Huckabee poses for a photo with an attendee of the ARTSPEAK@RNCpanel at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum on July 20, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images for NAMM)
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)
2016 Republican presidential candidates Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, left, and Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc., stand on stage during a Trump campaign event at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. Trump, according to a flurry of early-state and national polls, is the overwhelming favorite of self-identified moderate and liberal Republican voters. Among more conservative voters, he often trails his chief rival for the nomination, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via 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)
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)
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)
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)
U.S. Governor Mike Huckabee takes questions from the media, prior to laying a brick at a new housing complex in the West Bank settlement of Efrat, Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, speaks to members of the media in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Friday, Nov. 18, 2016. Donald Trump on Friday selected Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as his attorney general, elevating one of his earliest congressional backers and one of the most conservative U.S. lawmakers to serve as the nation's top law enforcement official. Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 18: Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee arrives at Trump Tower on November 18, 2016 in New York City. it has been rumored than Huckabee is President-elect Donald Trump's pick for ambassador to Israel. Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, speaks during the Republican presidential candidate debate at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. Candidates from both parties are crisscrossing Iowa, an agricultural state of about 3 million people in the U.S. heartland that will hold the first votes of the 2016 election on Feb. 1. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, speaks during the Republican presidential candidate debate at the North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, South Carolina, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. The sixth Republican debate comes at a time with less than three weeks before Iowa caucus-goers cast the first votes of the 2016 presidential election on February 1. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Mike Huckabee, former Governor of Arkansas and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, speaks during a campaign stop at Golden Grain Energy in Mason City, Iowa, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016. Less than four weeks before Iowans kick off the 2016 presidential contest with their Feb. 1 caucuses, the early road to the White House appears to be shaping up as a slippery and uncharted one for the Republican Party. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 03: Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee addresses the Republican Jewish Coalition at Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center December 3, 2015 in Washington, DC. Candidates spoke and took questions from Jewish leaders and activists. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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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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