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Huckabee passes on GOP presidential run

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said last night that he won't seek the Republican presidential nomination, choosing to stick with a lucrative career as a television and radio personality over a race that would be both costly and caustic.

"All the factors say go, but my heart says no," Huckabee, the winner of the 2008 Iowa caucuses, said on his Fox News Channel show.

The decision further muddies the GOP field as the Republican Party seeks a challenger for President Barack Obama.

A prominent social conservative, Huckabee ranks high in national polls. Had he run, he would have been a serious contender for the party nod with instant support among Christian evangelicals who dominate the Iowa caucuses and the early South Carolina primary.

Huckabee said the past few months have been times of deep personal reflection, even as he noted that polls put him "at or near the top" among likely Republican candidates.

He said money wasn't a problem and that his family supported a run. He said he was confident of competing among less conservative Republicans.

But his heart wasn't in it.

"My answer is clear and firm," Huckabee said. "I will not seek the Republican nomination for president this year. I'm going to continue doing what I do."

Even before the show, Huckabee's advisers said he was unlikely to run. Yet there was an element of doubt, as he apparently left even his closest advisers in the dark as to which way he would decide.

Huckabee painted the decision as a spiritual one. "Only when I was alone, in quiet and reflective moments, did I have not only clarity but an inexplicable inner peace," he said.

Had he chosen to run, Huckabee would have been forced to give up the lucrative media career he's enjoyed since his unsuccessful presidential bid four years ago. In addition to his TV show, Huckabee hosts a nationally syndicated radio program, gives paid speeches around the country and has even launched a series of animated videos for children on American history.

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