Fox News
May 16, 2011

Huckabee Explains Decision Not to Run for President in 2012

Guests: Mike Huckabee, host, 'Huckabee'

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," May 16, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Tonight, the 2012 Republican field is taking shape, and one of the candidates leading the field at a number of polls, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, announced on Saturday night his decision about whether to seek the GOP nomination.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "HUCKABEE" ON MAY 14)

MIKE HUCKABEE, HOST: The past few weeks, the external signs and signals and answers too many of the obstacles point strongly toward running. And when I'm with people encouraging neither run, it is easy to feel the strength of their partnership and commitment to help me to the finish line.

But only when I was alone in quiet and reflective moments did I have not only clarity but an inexplicable inner peace, a peace that exceeds human understanding.

All the factors say go. But my heart says no. And that's the decision that I have made.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: And Huck is not the only candidate bowing out of the race. Earlier today, real estate mogul Donald Trump announced that he's out of the race as well. Dick Morris will join me with reaction to that announcement coming up in just a few minutes.

But first, who are these Republican heavyweights likely to throw their weight behind now and how will this affect the race?

Joining me with the answer to that question, and to him side into his big announcement, former Arkansas governor, the host of his very own show right here on this network, Mike Huckabee is with us.

Governor, you look like you in a hotel room, where are you?

HUCKABEE: I'm in the Grand Sandestin Hotel in Sandestine Resort down in Miramar Beach, Florida. And it is a beautiful day at about 70 degrees. You should be here, Sean.

HANNITY: Yes. My heart is bleeding there for you, Governor, congratulations.

All right. You know, I found your, I found your announcement interesting, you know, over the past number of months, I would ask you and I'm also going back and forth, maybe I imagine, you were sort of going back and forth, is there some truth to that?

HUCKABEE: I was, too. Yes, a lot of truth to that. You know, I think that a few months ago, I was thinking less likely. And then over the last few months Sean, I had become to think, you know, this is really a distinct possibility. The polls kept showing that I was leading, and I was leading in places where people didn't think I could. In Maine, in New Jersey, in Pennsylvania, outside the Bible Belt. And not just among the social conservatives as had sort of been the narrative that had been maybe placed on me four years ago.

And in addition to the polls, then when it showed intensity of voters, there were a lot of things and the irony, 20 years ago, when I first ran for a public office, all the signs said, you're crazy to do this. You can't win.

But I did it, because in my heart I believed I should. This time it is the polar opposite. All of those signs were pointing that I should. But deep inside of me -- and I don't expect a lot of people to understand this, Sean. I really don't. But I say that this is a decision that was a spiritual decision. It is something that if a person is a believer, if a person who believes that God does lead us, then you look for answers, not within the circumstances, but you look for them in a way that is a whole lot clearer than all the circumstances can be.

HANNITY: Governor, you better be careful here because the liberal media will interpret that. Mike Huckabee, I can see the headlines, Mike Huckabee said, God spoke to him and they'll misinterpret that.

(CROSSTALK)

HUCKABEE: Yes, but I'll tell you this, Sean. He didn't speak to me at an audible voice. It is always louder than that, it's always.

But I think the point that, I can't let the cynics and there are plenty of them and skeptics, let them believe whatever they want to believe. But that is not who I have to answer to. In 100 years from now, it won't matter what the skeptics and the cynics think.

So, you know, I'm comfortable in my own skin with the decision I made. As I told Chris Wallace the other day, I slept well Saturday night. And I was at peace with the decision. It wasn't an easy one. It wasn't one that I thought I was going to end up making. But I believe it is right one at least for now. Who knows what the future holds? I don't. I won't pretend that I know everything that is going to happen down the road but for now, this is what I need to be doing.

HANNITY: Is the door open, a hair? Like, for example, I really do understand what you are saying when you talk about your quiet reflective moments. I mean, that's when we really get in touch with what our values are, appreciate the gifts we have in our lives.

But you said you had inner clarity and inexplicable inner peace that exceeds human understanding. Has at any point in your life that changed? In other words, I'm sort of asking if you are leaving the door open a hair?

HUCKABEE: Well, you know, I'm not trying to say, oh there's a chance I will, you know, revisit this in July. But if it revisits me and it may be four years from now, eight years from now and it may be never. Again, I just don't ever want to say never. I think that that is a foolish position to be in and either have to come back and explain. There's no explaining. My decision is clear, it's firm. I'm not sitting around thinking is there another way in. I'm out. Simple as that. I have a lot other things.

But I tell you what I am going to be doing, I'm going to be working very hard to try to get 60 Republicans in the Senate. I'm going to be working very hard to see more people take the governorships at state houses. To see more members of Congress who are conservative and pro-life. So, I'm not done with politics. And I'm not done with wanting to influence the discussion, help frame the issues. But you don't have to be a candidate to do that.

HANNITY: Do you -- is there any of the candidates that are in now or -- for example, Jon Huntsman's name is being talked about, he might jump in to this. Mitch Daniels might jump in.

HUCKABEE: He's a good guy. Right, another good guy.

HANNITY: Will you endorse -- is there anybody right now that you look at and you say, you know what? I would really want to get behind that person?

HUCKABEE: Sean, it is early for me to decide on an endorsement. But as I look at the field, and I agree with something Dick Morris has said on your show. All this talk about the Republicans having a weak field is nonsense. Jon Huntsman is a strong potential candidate. Mitt Romney is a strong candidate. Newt Gingrich is a strong candidate. So is Tim Pawlenty, so is Michele Bachmann, so is Sarah Palin. So is Rick Santorum who, you know, I adore for his convictions. And we've got a lot of good people who are out there. Herman Cain.

So, you know, for us to say there is no one here that will carry the banner, I'm very adamant. All of those guys that I just mentioned, and probably some I haven't, Mitch Daniels included, any one of them would be better than Barack Obama for another four years, and that's what I'm absolutely certain of.

So, whoever the Republican nominee is, and I think it's probably going to be one of those folks I may have mentioned. I'm going to be supportive and do everything I can to see that they are the next occupant of the White House.

HANNITY: A lot of questions were raised because after you made your announcement, Donald Trump came up, and some were asking, well, did Governor Huckabee know or tell Donald Trump about what your decision was?

HUCKABEE: No. The little piece we did at the end of the announcement the other night was kind of fun. Because Donald Trump on Friday taped two versions. One that I was running and one that I wasn't. And he didn't know. So, he didn't know until he and his wife were watching Saturday night. I got a call from Donald, and he said, you know, he was sitting there, watching and waiting and thinking. And anyway, he was very nice about it. And then of course, he made his announcement. But he didn't know. My executive producer didn't know. My staff didn't know.

HANNITY: I didn't know, you didn't tell me.

HUCKABEE: Only my wife, children -- well, only Roger Ailes knew, and I felt like he had to know. And yes, he already told me that if I did run, Sean, that we were not only going to keep doing the show during the campaign but if I won, I would keep doing the show from the White House. So, all this talk about Fox was pressuring me, that was total nonsense, that's simply wasn't happening.

HANNITY: All right. Fair enough.

Governor, we really appreciate your time. Now, can I have the other Trump announcement? Can we air that exclusively here?

HUCKABEE: You know, what? It would be fun. You ought to get it because it is kind of interesting. And since nobody will see it, maybe we should do that.

HANNITY: OK. I will take it exclusively and we'll air it tomorrow night right here on "Hannity." All right. Governor, good to see you. Thanks for being with us.

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