NEW YORK – Despite leading a poll on potential GOP picks for the 2012 presidential run, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee spoke to an audience at a Christian college Friday and explained why he's waiting until late summer to announce his decision.
Huckabee was at The King's College in New York City Friday where he was interviewed by Marvin Olasky, the college's provost and host of the Distinguished Visitor Series.
During the Q&A session that followed, a student asked why Republicans and conservatives spend a year and half discussing the presidential election if Republicanism is supposed to be about small, local governments, prompting Huckabee to open up about his political plans for 2012.
"That's one of the reason I've told people that if I do choose to run, it's not going to be until much, much later in the process," responded Huckabee, a Republican presidential candidate in the 2008 election. "[It will be] probably sometime in the latter part of the summer of this year, if at all."
A new poll out Friday showed that Huckabee dominated over other Republican contenders, with a solid 24 percent support. Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney tied for second at 14 percent each, according to the Public Policy Polling survey.
With former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain being the only Republican of note to officially announce a presidential exploratory committee, political pundits have noted how many presidential hopefuls are delaying their bids.
Though Huckabee's decision is not expected until summer, many political bloggers are looking to his schedule for signs indicating his intention. Some contend that his plans to headline a Christian-themed cruise to Alaska in June might signify a challenge to Palin.
Huckabee, who hosts a show on the Fox News Channel, told the group of young Christians Friday that he refused to let the media and political atmosphere dictate his decision.
"I don't want to get suckered into taking on the schedule because it's what the media wants us to do," he said. "You want to schedule a debate for March or May, knock yourselves out. If I'm not there, you can still have it. But I'm not going to be there."
Announcing a campaign too early also comes with drawbacks, according to Huckabee, who said very few people can handle the "burn rate of money" on that timetable.
"You have to raise so much money to sustain the infrastructure of a campaign that lasts a year and a half versus one that might lasts six or seven months," he said.
When asked why social and Christian conservatives failed to decide a candidate to unite behind during the 2008 primaries, Huckabee answered that conservative organizations had no "dragon to slay" because a conservative was already in a seat of power.
"Conservative organizations do far, far better when Bill Clinton or Barack Obama is president than when George Bush is president," said the former Arkansas governor. "You got a friendly guy in there fixing the Mexico City Policy, very pro-life on stem cell research. It's kind of hard to say the world is going to hell in a hand basket."
"I'm not just speaking of me but there were several good Christian people that ran for president, none of which seemed to be acceptable," he added.
During his one hour appearance at The King's College, Huckabee spoke candidly about his positions on various political issues ranging from foreign policy to gay marriage.
The former Arkansas governor said he didn't trust the Chinese government because of its human rights violations and currency manipulation.
He also reiterated his firm pro-life stance, saying he supports a federal amendment that would protect life from the moment of conception.
Huckabee said he is against the redefinition of marriage, but he didn't have a problem with giving homosexual couples hospital visitation rights or allowing them to receive inheritances.
"I don't have a right to tell them how to live. I do have a right to intervene when they call it marriage. It's not marriage if it doesn't involve one man, one woman, committed partners for life. It's how we defined marriage historically, biblically, and legally," said Huckabee.
The King's College is a Christian liberal arts college located in New York City's Empire State Building. The Distinguished Visitor Series brings writers, politicians, activists, and cultural leaders to campus to speak and interact with students.