Mike Huckabee begins 2016 presidential campaign with fundraising blitz

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks as he officially announces his candidacy for the 2016 Presidential race on May 5, 2015 in Hope, Arkansas.

Matt Sullivan, Getty Images

Mike Huckabee's 2008 presidential bid was felled, in part, by financial woes -- despite a surprise win in the Iowa caucuses, the upstart former governor of Arkansas couldn't raise the money to compete with rivals like John McCain and Mitt Romney over the long haul of a primary campaign.

He's now trying to make sure that doesn't happen again.

In a memo provided to the Des Moines Register, Huckabee's 2016 campaign announced an "aggressive" 17-day national fundraising blitz between May 11 and June 5. His press team is already raising expectations.

"People will be pleasantly surprised by what they see," Huckabee spokeswoman Alice Stewart told the Register. "The fundraising apparatus is already in full swing."

Huckabee officially announced his campaign on Tuesday in his hometown of Hope, Arkansas, pitching himself as a staunch social conservative who can win blue-collar swing voters with a populist message on economic issues. He's in Iowa for campaign events on Wednesday and Thursday, and it's surely no accident the state's largest newspaper was the first publication to obtain the fundraising memo. Many analysts see Iowa as a must-win for Huckabee to have a fighting chance at the nomination in 2016.

Bob Vander Plaats, a social conservative leader in Iowa who chaired Huckabee's 2008 campaign in the state, told the Register he's not sure whether he'll endorse Huckabee this time around. He suggested fundraising will be a factor in his decision.

"He's a top-tier candidate, but he'll need to put together a top-tier organization with a competitive fundraising strategy," Vander Plaats said.

Huckabee said during his announcement speech that he'll count primarily on small-dollar donations to power his 2016 bid.

"I'm gonna let you in on a little secret: I never have been, and I'm not gonna be the favorite candidate of those in the Washington-Wall Street Corridor of power," Huckabee said Tuesday. "I will be funded and fueled not by the billionaires, but by working people across America."

"Rest assured: If you want to give a million dollars, please do it," he added.

According to a new CBS News/New York Times poll, Huckabee has broad appeal among Republicans: 47 percent would consider backing him for the party's 2016 nomination, a number surpassed only by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's 48 percent.

Whether Huckabee can convert his fans into donors, though, remains to be seen.