Mike Huckabee to announce decision on presidential run today

In this Feb. 24, 2011 file photo, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee shakes hands after speaking about his new book at the National Press Club. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Former Arkansas governor and 2008 GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee will announce on Saturday whether or not he will enter the 2012 presidential race.

"Governor Huckabee will announce tomorrow night on his program whether or not he intends to explore a presidential bid," Woody Fraser, the executive producer of Huckabee's Fox News program "Huckabee," said in a statement released to CBS News.

Fraser said that Huckabee "has not told anyone at FOX News Channel his decision."

Huckabee, whose show airs at 8 p.m., has a strong base among the social conservatives, and has been atop early polls of presidential favorites in the wide-open Republican primary field.

As CBS News reported in March, there have been mounting signs that Huckabee will not enter the race, including his decision to stay on the sidelines as potential rivals have scooped up key staffers, his lack of contact with operatives in key early states, and his decision to build a $3 million beach house in Santa Rosa Beach in Florida.

Ed Rollins, Huckabee's 2008 campaign manager who has been laying the groundwork for a 2012 bid, told the Wall Street Journal following the announcement that he had "heard nothing, which indicates to me he's not running."

It's also unlikely Fox lawyers would permit Huckabee to use his show as a platform to announce a presidential bid, because that could open a host of potential equal-time problems other candidates could raise, CBS News Political Correspondent Jan Crawford notes.

Fox News suspended Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum in early Marchahead of likely presidential runs but notably declined to suspend Huckabee. Executives at the company have reportedly been pressuring Huckabee to make a decision.

People close to Huckabee tell CBS News they have been getting the strong sense for the past week that he is not going to run, though they did not indicate a final decision.

Huckabee's absence from the race would be good news for Santorum and another potential candidate, Rep. Michele Bachmann, who appear to be looking to win over the voters who might otherwise flock to Huckabee. The former governor was the surprise winner of the 2008 Iowa caucuses.