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Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee announced his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination Tuesday morning.
Huckabee, who is popular with the religious right, shared the news of his candidacy with supporters at Hempstead Hall in his hometown of Hope, 113 miles southwest of Little Rock.
“I was raised to believe that where a person started doesn’t mean that’s where he has to stop,” he said. “I always believed that a kid could go from Hope to higher ground.”
Huckabee, 59, a former Baptist pastor, hit the national stage when he won the Iowa caucuses by rousing the state’s Christian communities during his run for the GOP’s 2008 nomination.
In Hope, he said, he learned how to use firearms and fishing poles, the importance of religion and the value of honesty.
“I learned the difference between right and wrong. And I learned that God loves me as much as he loves anyone, but that he doesn’t love some more than others,” Huckabee said.
The Republican politician criticized President Barack Obama for — as he sees it — not following through on his speeches about hope and change.
“Eight years later our debt has more than doubled, America’s leadership in the world has completely evaporated and the country is more polarized than ever in my lifetime,” he said.
Huckabee said Americans should get on their knees every night and pray that they live in a country that people are trying to enter rather than escape.
“I’m running for president because I know there is a difference between making a speech and making government accountable to the people who have to pay for it,” he said.
Before Huckabee took the stage, his wife, Janet, attacked what she said was an absence of leadership in the United States; she questioned whether the nation is living up to the example set by its founders.
“Is there anything that we would die for that our men and women fight today for, every day when they go fight? Do we still have that passion?” she said.
This time around, among Republican voters, Huckabee’s support has not risen to double digits.
Mike Huckabee formally announces his bid for the presidency in Hope, Ark. (Photo: ABC News)
Huckabee, an unabashed culture warrior, is perhaps most outspoken when discussing what he considers the country’s eroding morality.
Earlier in the year, Huckabee released his book “God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy,” in which he laments what he sees as a decline of patriotism in the United States and a contempt for faith-based lives in the mainstream media.
But, as Yahoo News’ Meredith Shiner points out, Huckabee’s record as a governor is not as strictly right wing as some might expect from hearing his talking points when he was a television host for Fox News.
His competition for the GOP nomination includes Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson.
Jeb Bush is expected to announce his candidacy in the near future.