Washington Post: Could Mike Huckabee be the 2012 presidential nominee?

Mike Huckabee might be the Republican Party's next great hope. So says Washington Post political columnist Chris Cillizza.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee(R) leaned heavily toward the 2012 presidential race over the weekend, telling Fox News Channel's Chris Wallace that he "does better against [President] Obama than any other Republican."

After Huckabee's interview -- in which he also cited a "strong sentiment out there" for him to run -- the governor wrote a blog post on the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan in which he sought to remind people of the stakes in elections. "When I hear a statement like 'Republicans and Democrats are all the same,' I cringe and think of moments in our nation's history just like this one," he wrote.

Huckabee has also used his HUCK PAC to endorse and donate to candidates of his choosing -- although his fundraising capacity to date doesn't rival that of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney or Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty -- both of whom are widely expected to run for president in 2012.

Of late then, Huckabee is giving every public indication that he is ramping up a run for president.

In private, however, there is little evidence that Huckabee is doing the sorts of things -- broadening his political network, hiring a team of experienced campaign operatives and, most important, focusing heavily on fundraising -- that would convince the D.C. chattering class that he has learned the right lessons from the 2008 campaign.

"While he is making noises in the national press, I am not seeing any of the organizational moves that would tell me he is making a serious run," said Alex Vogel, a Republican lobbyist closely monitoring the 2012 field. "The people inside the Beltway won't get moved by statements in the press. They will look for real action."

Hogan Gidley, who runs HUCK PAC, insisted the fact that Huckabee's approach to politics is different from some of his potential 2012 rivals is a strength, not a weakness.

"The Governor's success comes from his expansive, nationwide network of committed volunteers who believe in true conservatism," said Gidley. "Much to the chagrin of many Washington, D.C., insiders, Gov. Huckabee's success has come without all the help from the establishment or high paid political consultants."

Read the entire column at WashingtonPost.com.

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