Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee reportedly told a group of pastors he'd let the Lord decide if he should run for president in 2016. The 2008 Republican presidential candidate is also said to be praying about it, and has had several groups from Iowa and South Carolina come to meet him.
"The first question he was asked was whether or not he was running for president and he said he'd let the Lord decide," ABC quoted Warren Watkins, pastor of Westside Baptist Church, as saying, of pastors' interaction with Huckabee at a meeting at the Convention Center in Little Rock, Ark., Thursday night.
"I think most of the evangelical pastors are already behind him, but I thought this was a great event for him to do that probably," added David Insell, pastor of Believer's Community Church in Batesville, Ark., who was also at the meeting.
Huckabee met with a group of pastors and political leaders from the early voting states of Iowa and South Carolina, a source told ABC.
"In 2012 at the end of the day, he said after thoughtful prayer and consideration this wasn't the right time," Alice Stewart, Huckabee's press secretary during his 2008 campaign, was quoted as saying, of the governor's decision at the time not to run. "God didn't give him the nudge in that right direction and that's the same with it, this time. You have to have all the cards in place."
Speaking to CBN on "The Brody File" show, Huckabee said top evangelical and financial figures who did not back him in 2008 now want him to make another bid.
"I'm not even close to being ready to saying yeah I'm going to run but I think that there's an openness now," Huckabee told CBN on the sidelines of the pastors' conference Thursday night. "A lot of it has to do with the fact that I've had some incredible encouragement from people that I wasn't expecting to get it from. I think even from people who didn't support me before…. These are people who look me square in the eye and say it with conviction."
The conference was organized by the American Renewal Project, headed by David Lane, an evangelical leader who wants to encourage more evangelicals to vote.
Late last month, Huckabee announced that his radio show, which was heard three hours a day on over 200 radio stations across the United States, was ending on Dec. 12, as he was preparing for some "new endeavors." "I have opportunities in some other areas that cannot be accomplished given the 8-9 hours a day I was devoting to the daily long-form show," he said on his Facebook page.
"One of the reasons we're in the mess we're in is because churches have become too political and not spiritual enough," Huckabee said in his speech at the conference, according to CBN.
"I sometimes hear people say, 'I wonder what the Republicans can do to convince Americans that they really have some good ideas,'" Huckabee continued. "Look, folks it's as simple as this, something that you probably said to your church congregation over and over again. People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. It is high time that we understand that the gospel is not about telling them that all the world is messed up and hopeless.
"It's telling them that it doesn't matter where they are, what kind of incredibly difficult situation they face that you are God's arms, ears, hands and love to them and that you will not forget them… We far too often fight the culture when we need to proclaim the Christ."
About the possibility of Huckabee's run, his close adviser Hogan Gidley told CNN, "It's a different tone and tenure this time than four years ago. This is more of a 'I'm seriously taking a look at it' tone than four years ago."