January 29, 2007--Posted at 6:15 p.m. CST
JONESBORO, AR--Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is to file papers today to form an exploratory committee for a run for president in 2008.
The Republican left the Arkansas governor's office this month after ten and one-half years in the position. Huckabee announced yesterday on NBC's 'Meet the Press' that he is taking the step toward running for the nation's highest office.
Huckabee says the nation needs "positive, optimistic leadership to kind of turn this country around."
The 51-year-old Huckabee comes from Hope, the same hometown as Bill Clinton.
Huckabee faces steep odds in a crowded GOP field that includes well-known and well-funded hopefuls such as Senator John McCain of Arizona, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Huckabee says he's undaunted by the competition and that voters will appreciate his underdog status.
After 10 plus years of service here in Arkansas, Huckabee is setting his sites on the U.S.'s head office despite mixed reviews here in the Natural State.
"I am not satisfied with the way he was our governor and I think he has a lot to learn about being a people person," said voter Gloria Grisham.
"I like his views, his conservative ways and his moral values," said voter Dwight Cunningham.
However, in the grand scheme of things carrying the state of Arkansas is a somewhat small objective. The bigger question is how legitimate of a candidate, nationally, is Huckabee.
"I think he is too legit to quit. I think he is an individual who has chosen the right path to move forward in the sense he is getting national recognition," said ASU political science professor Dr. Patrick A. Stewart.
Stewart believes Huckabee is a fantastic communicator comparable to other well thought of presidents like Ronald Reagan and fellow Arkansan Bill Clinton.
"One thing that we will see with Mike Huckabee is he has a wonderful sense humor. He has been on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report," said Stewart.
While currently Huckabee is saying all right things. He is far from a perfect candidate. Stewart feels Huckabee's lack of national recognition is working against him.
"The question is, will he get out there enough to get recognized by the public," said Stewart.
With the current political landscape, the Republican Party has taken a major hit and that hit could affect Huckabee, if he were to win the Republican nomination. Despite these flaws, the fact that Huckabee isn't the perfect candidate might actually help his candidacy.
"Americans love the second act. They love that someone can remake themselves mid stream and make themselves better. That is one of the things Mike Huckabee has done is, he went from being a rotund person with a distinct eating problem to running marathons," said Stewart.
Stewart went on to say, it is way too early to handicap Huckabee's chances for the 2008 presidency.