Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Saturday night that after "deep personal reflection" and prayer, he has decided against a second White House bid.
"All the factors say go but my heart says no," Huckabee said at the close of his show on Fox News. "I will not seek the Republican nomination for president this year."
Huckabee noted that polls show him "at or near the top" of the GOP field and said his fundraising proves he's more than a regional candidate. He said his wife supported him running, and he asked supporters to, "Pray for me to have clarity in the decision."
In the end, he said, it was a "spiritual" choice he reached when he was alone and found "inexplicable inner peace."
Huckabee noted his life is filled with "work I truly love right here at Fox News" and his 600-station syndicated radio show.
Huckabee, a favorite among cultural conservatives, was a surprise closer in the 2008 Republican primary. He'd performed consistently well at the debates and was considered by GOP voters as affable and down-to-earth, even though he hadn't been able to raise much money. But Huckabee's glad-handing skills in Iowa helped him pull off a victory in the January caucuses that year.
He won a handful of states throughout the remainder of the primary season, but ultimately Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) decisively claimed the party nod.
Saturday night two likely Republican presidential candidates heaped praise on Huckabee in statements issued right after his announcement. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman was first, followed by former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump also weighed in with well-wishes for the Arkansan immediately after Huckabee's show on Fox.
This year, several former Huckabee aides landed jobs on other campaigns as he kept his plans close to the vest. GOP sources have said it's no secret he enjoyed his Fox News salary and the increased fame he's received since joining the network.
The remarks were made at the end of his show, a program where he also devoted a segment to letting guests criticize likely GOP 2012 candidate Mitt Romney's recent health care speech.
For the first 48 minutes of the show, Huckabee interviewed a diverse group of guests — Ted Nugent, Mario Lopez of "Saved by the Bell" fame and a store owner hurt by the flooding along the Mississippi River.
Before he made the big reveal, Huckabee and Nugent jammed to "Cat Scratch Fever."