Each night, Special Report will profile one of a dozen potential Republican presidential contenders. When it's all over, look for a documentary special that lays out the state of the 2012 race inside the GOP.
With every installment, Power Play will analyze the candidate's strengths, weaknesses and odds of success.
Current Position: FOX News host (since 2008), head of HuckPAC
Previous experience: Governor of Arkansas (1996 to 2007); chairman of the National Governors' Association (2005 to 2006); lieutenant governor of Arkansas (1993 to 1996); president, Cambridge Communications (1992 to 1996); president, KBSC-TV (1987 to 1992); President, ACTS-TV (1983-1986); Baptist minister, (1980-1992); director of communications, Focus Ministries, (1976-1980)
Education: Undergraduate degree from Ouachita Baptist University (1975)
Family: Wife, Janet, two sons, one daughter
What you might not know:
While Huckabee was famous in 2008 for his bromance with actor and martial arts master Chuck Norris, Huckabee also had the backing of professional wrestler Ric Flair, who campaigned enthusiastically in South Carolina with his signature rallying cry, i.e. "Mike Huckabee is the man. Whoooooooo!"
His Pitch: Mr. Nice Guy
Republican strategists who puzzle over Mike Huckabee's consistently strong showing in 2012 polls need not be confused. The guy is just so gosh darned nice.
Likability can trump fundraising, organization and policy. And Huckabee's down-home style is the most likable one in the Republican field. He's the easy winner of the "who would you rather have a beer with" test, though in Baptist preacher Huckabee's case, it would probably be a glass of iced tea.
That he has managed to seem so friendly and folksy while holding the line as a strict social conservative is further testament to his political gifts. Huckabee's amiable ways have helped him avoid the "radical" tag that Democrats have successfully stuck on many of his ilk. He is not a fire-breathing pulpit pounder, but a funny, self-effacing persuader.
Huckabee's shock success in 2008 came through his use of the evangelical base as leverage to get attention and then defying expectations of persuadable GOPers who were left cold by frontrunners John McCain and Mitt Romney.
Huckabee has kept up his visibility with his weekend talk show and lots of speaking engagements to Republican groups and has demonstrated the ability to raise considerable cash from a network of small donors. Plus, in a party dominated by the South, Huckabee could well be the only candidate from the former Confederacy.
While the mention of the bass-playing preacher elicits public scoffs from the strategists for his potential opponents, none would like to have their candidate share a debate stage with the quick-witted and TV-savvy former governor.
The Knocks: Too Big Could Fail
Huckabee may share the populist sentiments of the Tea Party, but he has been at odds with the movement's positions on small government.
Huckabee's past support for tax and spending increases as governor rankles many in the GOP. And neither has Huckabee changed his tune to suit the more libertarian times. When he speaks against President Obama's national health insurance law he complains about the methods more than the means - a missed opportunity, not an outrageous usurpation. The "big government conservative" label will prove troublesome if Huckabee makes a run.
But his biggest obstacle may be the 2009 case of Maurice Clemmons, whom Huckabee had granted clemency and released from prison 10 years earlier. When Clemmons murdered four Lakewood, Wash. police officers in a coffee shop, seemingly at random, it cast an unwelcome glare on Huckabee's liberal dispensation of clemencies and pardons as governor.
Power Play's Odds on Nomination: 9 to 1
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.