Mike Huckabee Biography

Talk Show Host, Governor (1955–)
Mike Huckabee is a Republican politician and former governor of Arkansas. He ran for the Republican nomination for president in 2008 and in 2016.


Michael Huckabee was born on August 24, 1955, in Hope, Arkansas. He unsuccessfully ran for the Senate in 1992. In 1993, he won a special election for lieutenant governor, then became governor when Jim Guy Tucker was convicted in events relating to Whitewater. Huckabee was elected to full terms in 1998 and 2002. He ran for the Republican nomination for president in 2008 but lost to John McCain. In 2015, Huckabee announced that he will run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Early Years

Michael Dale Huckabee was born on August 24, 1955 in Hope, Arkansas—the same small town where former U.S. President Bill Clinton was born nine years earlier.

Huckabee's strict father worked as a firefighter and, on in his days off, worked as a mechanic. In the mid-1960s, Huckabee joined Garrett Memorial Baptist Church and became involved in church activities. Timid and awkward at times, he found salvation in words and music. He started playing guitar at age 11—in recent years, he has occasionally played bass with Arkansas rock band "Capitol Offense"—and became a champion public speaker and debater. 

Huckabee preached his first sermon as a teenager. The tumultuous national and international events of 1968—including the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and protests of the Vietnam War—spurred his desire for a career in media or public service. At age 14, Huckabee got his first job at a radio station, reading the news and weather. Then in 1972, he was elected as governor of Arkansas Boys State. After graduating from high school—a family milestone, as he was the first male member of his family to earn a high school diploma—Huckabee enrolled at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, where he majored in religion and minored in speech. Following his 1975 graduation, he attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, before dropping out to work for televangelist James Robison.

Pastor and Politician

Huckabee returned to Arkansas in 1979 to serve as a congregational pastor and, in 1989, became the head of the 490,000-member Baptist State Convention. From this power base, he ran for the Senate against the incumbent Dale Bumpers in 1992. During the campaign, he advocated separating people with HIV/AIDS from the general population, telling the Associated Press that "we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague." Huckabee suffered a resounding defeat.

In 1993, Huckabee bounced back and won a special election (after Governor Bill Clinton was elected U.S. President) for lieutenant governor. Then, he became governor in 1996 when Governor Jim Guy Tucker was convicted on federal charges of fraud and conspiracy in events relating to the Whitewater scandal. Huckabee was elected to full terms in 1998 and 2002, then announced in 2007 that he would run for the Republican nomination for president.

With his Southern roots and pastoral credentials, Huckabee is a favorite candidate of the religious right; he is an outspoken opponent of abortion rights and gay marriage. He trailed behind John McCain and Mitt Romney in delegate count and in popular vote and exited the race in March of 2008. McCain went on to became the Republican nominee.

In addition to his public office experience, Huckabee began hosting his own talk show on the FOX News Channel, Huckabee, in September 2008. In 2012, he began hosting The Mike Huckabee Show, a radio show produced by ABC. Huckabee has also authored a political book, Do The Right Thing: Inside the Movement That's Bringing Common Sense Back to America, published in November 2008.

In late 2008, speculation began to circulate regarding whether Huckabee would run for president in 2012. In 2011, however, Huckabee announced that he would not be a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 2012 presidential election. In the spring of 2012, media outlets began to focus on Huckabee as a potential running mate pick for 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney. 

After sitting out the 2012 race, Huckabee returned to the fray in May 2015 when he announced that he would be a candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. He faced competition from the likes of fellow Republicans Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio. Despite his best efforts, Huckabee had a hard time attracting enough support for his campaign. He officially dropped out of the race in February 2016 after a dismal showing in the Iowa Caucus. 

Personal Life

Huckabee married his high school sweet heart, Janet McCain, in 1974. They have three children, John Mark, David and Sarah.

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