Republican Mike Huckabee ends 2nd bid for president

Mike Huckabee
FILE - In this Thursday, July 23, 2015, file photo, GOP presidential candidate former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks at a campaign event in Las Vegas. Huckabee is sticking with his criticism of the Iran nuclear deal, after first making the comment when denouncing President Barack Obama for his role in the agreement reached by the United States and other world powers. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Mike Huckabee ended his second campaign for the White House on Monday amid a dismal showing in the Iowa caucuses that he won in his first bid eight years ago.

As caucus results were still streaming in, Huckabee wrote on Twitter that he was “officially suspending my campaign.” He thanked his backers for their loyal support, adding the hashtag #ImWithHuck. Calls to the Huckabee campaign for comment were not immediately returned.

The former Arkansas governor announced his 2016 bid in May in the hometown he shares with former President Bill Clinton, joining what would become a crowded Republican field that included many political newcomers.

His campaign failed to take off early on, with candidates like billionaire Donald Trump, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio dominating the race.

In 2008, he captivated evangelical Republicans but couldn’t build wide enough support to win the Republican nomination. After ending his 2008 campaign, he took up hosting a weekend cable show on FOX News, but then stopped before announcing his latest White House bid.

A populist but no Democrat, he did not endorse a minimum-wage increase, instead calling for policies encouraging a “maximum wage” for workers. But he did align himself with labor interests in criticizing “unbalanced trade deals” and describing President Barack Obama’s immigration policy as a way to “import low-wage labor, undercut American workers and drive wages lower than the Dead Sea.”

The ordained minister — he was Arkansas Baptist Convention president before getting into politics — has played up the cultural conservatism learned in this small town where many of his relatives — and a few Clinton relatives — still live. He stood by his opposition to abortion rights and same-sex marriage, declaring that “the Supreme Court is not the supreme being, and they cannot overturn the laws of nature or of nature’s God.”

Huckabee has boasted that in Arkansas politics, he found success in “challenging the deeply entrenched political machine that ran this state. It was tough sledding, but I learned how to govern and how to lead.” An introductory video about the governor who fought “the Clinton machine” made clear he meant Bill and Hillary. Bill Clinton was governor before Huckabee, while former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is now vying for the Democratic nomination for president.

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