COLUMBIA, S.C. — Republican Mike Huckabee said Monday that if he decides to run for his party’s nomination for president again in 2012, he knows he has to win South Carolina.
“You have to have South Carolina to win,” Huckabee said during a stop at Books-A-Million in Northeast Richland, where he signed copies of his new book, “A Simple Government.” “If I had (won South Carolina in 2008) — and we were this close — I maybe wouldn’t be here signing books today.”
The former Arkansas governor came in second in South Carolina’s 2008 GOP primary, winning 29.8 percent of the vote, trailing eventual GOP nominee John McCain’s 33.2 percent. McCain, a Republican U.S. senator from Arizona, lost to Democrat Barack Obama in the general election.
South Carolina matters to possible Republican presidential candidates, including Huckabee, who are considering a 2012 run because of its first-in-the-South primary status. Since 1980, every GOP candidate who went on to win his party’s nomination has first won the S.C. Republican primary.
Huckabee said again Monday that he has not decided whether he will run again. He said he will make a decision this summer, based, in part, on how people respond to the ideas he lays out in his new book.
While he has not yet said whether he will run, Huckabee is a front-runner for the Republican nomination, according to polls. Twenty-two percent of likely Republican primary voters in Southern states said the Baptist-minister-turned-politician is their top choice to take on Obama, according to a Winthrop University poll released last week.
In the poll, Huckabee received nearly twice as much support as the second pick, Newt Gingrich of Georgia, the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Huckabee also far outpaced other possible GOP contenders, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who also sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the GOP’s 2008 vice presidential nominee.
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