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Mike Huckabee 6th Republican To Enter Presidential Race

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee announces in Hope, Ark., that he is entering the 2016 presidential race.
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Mike Huckabee announced his second presidential bid Monday from his hometown of Hope, Arkansas. He’s the sixth Republican to announce a presidential run in what is already becoming a crowded Republican field, and he's the second person to announce a presidential bid in Hope. (President Bill Clinton announced his long-shot presidential bid from the small southern town in 1991.)

“It is a long way from a little brick red house on 2nd Street in Hope, Arkansas to the White House," Huckabee said during his announcement speech to a jubilant crowd. "I always believed that a kid could go from Hope to a higher ground."

Huckabee has come a long way since he once shunned the White House. In a 2001 interview on "Meet the Press," Huckabee told moderator Tim Russert that he won't run for president because "America's elected a guy from Hope, Arkansas. They've probably had their chance at that."

The former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister will once again attempt to appeal to social conservatives as he did in his first presidential run in 2008. But his chances to gain the nomination are much more difficult this time around as the field is more crowded and several conservatives are appealing to Christian conservatives, including Sen. Ted Cruz, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson as well as possible candidates Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Pennsylvania Governor Rick Santorum.

In his announcement speech, Huckabee alluded to challenge he will have raising money and the fact that he will be up against better-funded opponents.

“Washington is more dysfunctional than ever and has become so beholden to the donor class who fills the campaign coffers that it ignores the fact that 1 in 4 American families are paying more than half their income for housing,” he said.

Regardless, Huckabee will work to recapture the support he garnered in 2008 when he won the Iowa caucuses and went on to win seven more states, mostly in the south, before Sen. John McCain won the nomination.

In addition to his conservative positions on social issues, he will also appeal to the populist sentiment running through the party.

"The war on poverty hasn’t ended poverty; it’s prolonged it. I don’t judge the success of government by how many people are on assistance, but by how many people have good jobs and don’t need government assistance," he said. It's a line similar to what many Republicans are saying this campaign season.

While Huckabee will attempt to appeal to social conservatives, fiscal conservatives are already panning the former governor for some his policies during his gubernatorial tenure. The group Club for Growth has launched a $100,000 ad buy attacking him in Iowa and South Carolina for increasing taxes while governor.

Huckabee addressed the criticism in his speech, Monday, saying he passed 94 tax cuts while rebuilding roads and increasing students' test scores.

For the past seven years, Huckabee has worked outside of politics but remained in the public eye with a television show on Fox News.

After his announcement, Huckabee will travel to Iowa and South Carolina for a campaign tour he dubbed “factories, farms & freedom.”

— Leigh Ann Caldwell