WASHINGTON — Will he or won't he?
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Wednesday that he was "seriously contemplating" another run for the Republican presidential nomination next year.
He threw out teasers on first lady Michelle Obama, Social Security, would-be party rival Mitt Romney and more on a stop in the nation's capital to promote his newly released book, "A Simple Government."
But the 2008 candidate and TV and radio personality also talked about the many reasons it makes sense for him to postpone any campaign announcement, and why beating President Barack Obama could be challenging for any Republican.
The bottom line: He predicted that Obama can raise $1 billion and benefit from the power of incumbency, while Republicans could face a longer than usual primary season. For himself, Huckabee said, it makes sense to wait a while before deciding, both to make and save more money, and to be able to frame the issues longer as a pundit rather than with the constraints of a candidate.
The former Arkansas governor, who polled well with social conservatives in the 2008 GOP presidential primaries, is but one of a number of prominent Republicans who've been expected to run in 2012 but haven't declared their candidacies yet. In fact, none of the more than a dozen most likely GOP candidates has announced yet, though several are expected to within weeks. Still, the widespread hesitancy may suggest second thoughts about taking on Obama.
Huckabee, speaking at a reporters' roundtable organized by The Christian Science Monitor, said his book was about "where I really stand, what I really believe."
That would include pages 33, 84 and 85, where he refers to Romney's comprehensive health care expansion in Massachusetts as "RomneyCare" and "socialized medicine" and says it was a failed experiment.
Elsewhere in his book, he says the retirement age for Social Security must be raised and benefits adjusted downward for Americans who are now in their 40s and younger. Likewise, he says the Medicare eligibility age should be raised by "a few more years."
On such entitlements, "I don't necessarily take the safest position to take politically," Huckabee observed Wednesday.
As for Michelle Obama, Huckabee said many conservatives had unfairly criticized her for her child anti-obesity campaign, when in his opinion she was promoting "exactly what Republicans say they believe . . . individual responsibility."
He called obesity a national security issue, and said that if the government was going to subsidize school meals, it made sense for the meals to be healthier, and that she wasn't trying to micromanage what parents fed their children. "Rather than us condemn Michelle Obama, I think we ought to be thanking her and praising her for what she's done."
Huckabee, who's battled weight problems over the years, said he needed to lose "probably 30 pounds," but that if he did, that didn't necessarily mean he was running. "If I stayed in television I'll be better in television with 30 less pounds."
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