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Barbour, Huckabee Weighing Presidential Paths

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“If I run, I walk away from a pretty good income,” Huckabee said at the Christian Science Monitor event. “I don’t want to walk away any sooner than I have to because, frankly, I don’t have a lot of reserve built up. Most of my life was in public service. Therefore, I didn’t come away wealthy.”

In another hint that Huckabee isn’t close to entering the race, Fox announced earlier in the week that it would suspend its contracts with former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R) and former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) because their entrance into the presidential race seemed imminent. It did not suspend its paid relationship with Huckabee because he is among those who have yet to show “serious intention to form an exploratory committee.”

Huckabee’s attention to his television persona may have already damaged his political career.

On the ground in New Hampshire, his state chairman from the 2008 cycle, Cliff Hurst, decided in January to set aside his friendship with Huckabee to work for Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R).

“Mike Huckabee is 100 percent AWOL,” said top Granite State GOP operative Mike Dennehy, who served as political director for Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) in the last cycle but is now leaning toward Barbour.

Neither Huckabee nor Barbour has yet to visit New Hampshire this cycle, but Barbour’s political action committee helped pay for a “free dinner and date night” at a Manchester restaurant last week. And Barbour is expected to visit the state for the first time in the coming weeks.

Huckabee largely brushed off questions about the exclusion of a New Hampshire stop on his current book tour.

“It’s cold up there, man. My Southern blood isn’t acclimated very well for it,” he joked last week. “I can always punt and say the publisher put the schedule together, and actually it did.”

Policy Heft

The candidates also have had different experiences over the past 10 days that suggest one is better prepared for a substantive debate than the other.

Huckabee spent much of the week defending himself for wrongly saying President Barack Obama’s childhood home was Kenya, playing false into conspiracy theories suggesting Obama is not an American citizen.

Huckabee insists it was a simple mistake, but his comments to a radio host were detailed: “And one thing that I do know is his having grown up in Kenya, his view of the Brits, for example, very different than the average American,” he said, later adding that, “His perspective as growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather, their view of the Mau Mau Revolution in Kenya is very different than ours because he probably grew up hearing that the British are a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather.”

Regardless of whether it was a simple misstatement, the remark and ensuing controversy suggests a lack of preparation that one wouldn’t expect from a serious presidential contender.

It wasn’t the only recent example.

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