US & Canada

Mike Huckabee rules out 2012 US presidential bid

Mike Huckabee (file image)
Image caption Mr Huckabee said he had an "inner peace" about his decision

Mike Huckabee, former governor of the US state of Arkansas, has announced that he does not plan to stand in presidential elections next year.

Mr Huckabee had been seen as a strong contender for his party's nomination. He lost out to John McCain in 2008.

But he told viewers on his show on Fox News: "All the factors say go, but my heart says no."

Several high-profile Republicans have declined to run in the 2012 elections or have yet to make an announcement.

Sarah Palin, who was the Republican nominee for vice-president last time, has not said whether she will stand.

President Barack Obama announced in April that he intended to stand for another term.

His approval ratings have increased since the killing of Osama Bin Laden earlier this month.

Mr Huckabee is a prominent social conservative and ordained Baptist minister. Polls had suggested he would receive strong support in a nomination bid from influential conservative Christian voters.

Running for office would have meant Mr Huckabee was obliged to give up his lucrative career as a TV and radio personality.

He told viewers he had the support of his family and that funding would not be a problem, but that after a period of reflection, he had decided not to run.

"My answer is clear and firm. I will not seek the Republican nomination for president this year," he said, adding that the decision had brought him "an inexplicable inner peace".

The race for the Republican Party nomination has been slow to take shape this year, even though Democratic President Barack Obama is seen as vulnerable.

Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich and and Texas Congressman Ron Paul both announced their intention to run for the presidency earlier this week.

Other likely Republican 2012 candidates include former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former Utah Governor and US ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and real estate mogul and reality TV show star Donald Trump.

Of those, only Mr Romney and Mr Pawlenty have taken the first official step toward a candidacy, by forming exploratory committees to test the waters and begin raising money.

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