Mike Huckabee announced Tuesday that he officially plans to run for president in 2016, joining other Republicans hoping to get their party’s nomination. The announcement came during an event in his hometown of Hope, Arkansas, also the birthplace of former President Bill Clinton.
"Every day of my life in politics was a fight, and sometimes it was an intense one," Huckabee said in a video posted online May 1. "But any drunken redneck can walk into a bar and start a fight. … A leader only starts a fight that he's prepared to finish."
Huckabee, who served as governor of Arkansas from July 1996 to January 2007, has gone on to run for president in 2008, host a television show on Fox News and author several books. He has stood firmly in the GOP camp on social policy issues: He has strongly opposed abortion, even in the cases of rape or incest, and has spoken out against same-sex marriage. He has criticized the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, saying the healthcare plan is an insurance plan, not reform.
Here are five things to know about Huckabee, from his 2008 presidential run to his weight loss and controversial remarks about singer Beyoncé.
1. Huckabee won the Iowa Republican caucuses in 2008. The surprise win put Huckabee ahead of other big-name GOP candidates, but he came in third overall in the Republican presidential primaries behind John McCain and Mitt Romney.
2. He joined Fox News in 2008 as a political commentator. He was given his own show called “Huckabee,” which he left in January, supposedly to pursue the presidency.
3. Huckabee’s handling of Hurricane Katrina received widespread praise. The state used Christian summer camps to shelter tens of thousands of evacuees affected by the hurricane. “The Bush administration would have done well to emulate Mike Huckabee’s speedy and successful relief effort,” Salon writer Max Brantley said of Huckabee in 2007.
4. Huckabee’s dramatic weight loss. Huckabee has advocated living more healthfully after doctors warned him that his weight would kill him and after he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. The former governor lost over 100 pounds in 2007. "People set themselves up for failure when they stash their trouble foods in the car, drawer or pantry,” Huckabee said. “It's a moment of truth when you gather the junk and throw it away."
5. Huckabee criticized signer Beyoncé in his book “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy,” published earlier this year. He described Beyoncé’s music as “obnoxious and toxic mental poison” and criticized President Barack Obama and the first lady for allowing their daughters Sasha and Malia to listen to Beyoncé.
He later commented on the controversy, saying, “You know, if people read the full chapter, it's in the context of, first of all, saying, ‘Beyoncé is a wonderful talent.’ My point is, she doesn't have to do some of the things that she does in the lyrics because it's not necessary. She has nothing to make up for. She's an amazing talent.”