ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports:
The runner-up for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, Mike Huckabee, suggested that his single biggest concern about running again in 2012 is the pressure to fill a campaign war chest with enough money to compete with President Barack Obama.
“I love to campaign — it’s one of the things that I’d enjoy the most,” Huckabee said on a conference call with reporters on Monday, but when it comes to fundraising, he acknowledged, “that’s not what I do best.”
Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas who now hosts his own television show on Fox News, is about to embark on a nationwide publicity tour for his new book, “A Simple Government, Twelve Things We Really Need from Washington (and a Trillion That We Don’t).”
He said he will use his travel not only to sell books, but to meet with donors who could play a role in bankrolling a potential presidential campaign.
“I will be talking to people who are interested in the financial end of the campaign,” he said. "That’s part of what I’ll do when I’m not signing books and on the bus.”
Staring this weekend, Huckabee plans to visit roughly 41 cities, including multiple stops in two critical early nominating states — Iowa and South Carolina. He’ll be meeting with voters as well as potential financial backers and operatives.
Huckebee portrayed the consulatations as not only a chance for him to ask for support but to gauge their enthusiasm for his possible candidacy.
“Tell me what that really means," Huckabee said he plans to ask those who say they will back him, "that you’re going to write a check or that you’re going to go out and get 50 of your friends to do it too.”
He said he wants to avoid a long campaign of dialing for dollars in a “boiler room” environment — “not my forte,” he said.
In an interview on Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Huckabee said he intends to make a decision by this summer whether or not to pursue the GOP nomination. The book tour, he said, will help him decide if he will be able to muster “both financial and organization support that warrants walking away from what I’m doing and getting back into the fray again.”
Huckabee expressed confidence that the timeline would still allow him to successfully compete in the Ames Straw Poll, which takes place in Iowa this August, debates and other crucial contests along the 2012 campaign trail.
He also rejected a story published in Politico on Monday that suggested Huckabee might decide to run because of an alleged dislike of one of his 2008 GOP primary opponents, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
“That’s absurd — it’s beyond absurd,” Huckabee said, adding that his decision would not come down to “some personal feud.”
Huckabee declined to say whether there was another potential presidential candidate who he would get behind should he decide not to run, but he offered praise for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has said he will not run in 2012, and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who is actively considering a bid.
Huckabee called Barbour “the smartest political mind in America today,” and defended the governor’s positions on race issues that have recently landed him in hot water. But the once and possibly future presidential contender made it clear his remarks amount to a compliment, not an endorsement.
“If I got in it and I gave an endorsement to somebody else,” Huckabee said, “it would probably come back to bite me wouldn’t it?”