Fox News denies it has issued a 2012 ultimatum to Huckabee

Holly Bailey

Mike Huckabee may have to decide sooner rather than later on whether he's running for president.

Unnamed GOP operatives tell Real Clear Politics' Erin McPike the former Arkansas governor turned Fox News host has been issued an ultimatum by the network to make a decision about a 2012 run by the end of May.

But Fox News denies the story. "There's no truth whatsoever to this report," Bill Shine, executive vice president of programming for Fox News, says in a statement provided to The Ticket.

A spokesman for Huckabee also denies the report. "The governor has been clear--his timeline for a decision is this summer and that has not changed," Huckabee aide Hogan Gidley said in a statement."Fox is aware of the governor's timetable and he is aware of his limitations in considering another run."

In recent weeks, the ex-governor has offered hints he's more seriously considering the race.  For one, the ex-governor has been reaching out to donors and activists about a potential bid. On Monday, it was announced he'll speak at next month's Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, an annual cattle call of prospective GOP presidential candidates.

If Huckabee continues to look like a serious 2012 contender, that puts Fox into tricky position. In March, the network suspended former Fox News contributors Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum ahead of their presidential runs, so as not to appear to be giving an unfair platform to the candidates, which would violate federal election law.

Still, the network has so far not cracked down on Huckabee or Sarah Palin, another high-profile network contributor who is also considering a presidential bid.

(Photo of Huckabee: Rogelio V. Solis/AP)