Let's get this out of the way.
Whenever any candidate for president is either "exploring" or setting up an "exploratory committee", you can bet your bottom dollar that they are and will be running for president.
Late last year, former Florida governor and latest member of a certain family, Jeb (John Ellis Bush) Bush announced that he is setting up a presidential "exploratory committee" for a "possible" run for the 2016 Republican nomination for president.
Tonight on his Fox News Channel program, the former Arkansas governor and 2008 Republican presidential candidate, the Rev. Mike Huckabee, announced that he is leaving the Fox News Channel as he too is "exploring" entering what should be a crowded GOP field for 2016.
As I have my issues with Mr. Bush, I have issues with the Rev. Huckabee.
My main issue with the Rev. Huckabee is that I believe, despite denials on both sides, that he teamed up with the eventual GOP 2008 presidential nominee, Sen. John "F--- You" McCain to deny the former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, the GOP nod.
Also, the Rev. Huckabee did seem to love his tax hikes while governor of Arkansas.
But he sure can say this.
He led the way for the Republican party to take over the state of Arkansas. Granted much of the GOP gains in Arkansas occurred after he left office and was capped off by the GOP winning control of the state legislature and all elected offices in the state.
The Rev. Huckabee has a lot of supporters and he does talk up a cultural populism. But again, I am not sure that he can gain much beyond his base of primarily Evangelical Christian voters.
Having a weekly talk gig on Fox News Channel has helped him communicate a message beyond politics and he has had many guests on his show that are very political polar opposites such as singer Melissa Etheridge.
And the Rev. Huckabee had the highest-rated cable show for his time slot on Saturday night.
It is possible that because of that he could be appealing to the populist wing of the GOP, which is growing and the strongest it has been in many years.
And why even if Jeb Bush does run for the GOP nomination, as I suspect he will, he will have a hard time winning over those voters period. He will lose many votes on his pro-amnesty for illegal aliens and strong support for Common Core educational standards. And Mr. Bush was a very good, conservative governor of Florida, his last year was 2006 as governor. Twelve years and many issues ago.
The fact is one can't win the nomination today being a moderate and or a Bush.
Another reality is don't count two moderates out from setting up their own "explorations" into the '16 campaign.
That would be the aforementioned Mr. Romney and the New Jersey governor, Chris Christie.
The usual wisdom is that a center-right candidate usually emerges as stronger conservatives field multiple candidates. Kind of what happened in 2012 and Mr. Romney was the beneficiary of conservative infighting.
But what a treat it would be for us conservatives to watch three moderates, Messrs. Bush, Christie and Romney duke it out. And a conservative consensus candidate emerges. That candidate probably will not be the Rev. Huckabee. I would look very seriously at the former Texas governor and 2012 candidate, Rick Perry. He is emerging now that he is no longer governor, is not fighting the effects of a back operation as a serious candidate.
But as of now, in the death march for just the Republican nomination for president in 2016, we have two serious candidates. Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee.