Hudson, New Hampshire (CNN)Mike Huckabee says he feels better positioned financially to launch a campaign now than he did in 2008, when he was a long-shot candidate who ultimately went on to win the Iowa caucuses.
Huckabee hits the trail, with a wink
The former Arkansas governor hit the trail in New Hampshire Saturday morning, one day after saying he'll announce his 2016 decision next month in Arkansas.
At a restaurant in Hudson, Huckabee shook hands with voters and asked them for their support. That is, if he runs, he emphasized, while promoting his announcement on May 5, sometimes adding a wink.
"I think there's going to be a much better financial base for me than there was last time," Huckabee told reporters at the diner. "That's already evident by the early indications that we have. That was a real part of the struggle before."
The former governor's financial stability is rooted in the multi-year contract he landed with Fox News after the 2008 primary, which led to a weekly primetime television show that's granted him celebrity status and cemented him as a household name.
A super PAC, "Pursuing America's Greatness," is also launching to support the governor, which will help him compete in an era of unlimited amounts of money being allowed in elections—something that didn't exist when he ran for president seven years ago.
Another factor in his favor, he argued, may be what's already being dubbed the "SEC Primary," a coalition of states in the South attempting to hold their nominating contests on March 1 to have a bigger influence in the process. Huckabee—who won Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, and Louisiana in 2008—said "the calendar looks good for us" next year.
That doesn't mean he still won't spend at least some time in New Hampshire, a state that voted for McCain over Huckabee and generally favors more moderate Republicans. "You can't just completely ignore the first-in-the-nation primary," he said.
Huckabee will certainly face a more crowded field of contenders than in 2008. According to CNN's poll last month, he came in fourth place at 10% among Republicans and independents who lean Republican. None of the names mentioned in the poll received more than 16%.
On Saturday, Huckabee also stopped by the Granite State Indoor Range and Gun Shop to check out some firearms and practice target shooting, before later speaking at the First-in-the-Nation Republican Leadership Summit, a conservative gathering for presidential contenders in Nashua, New Hampshire.
In his speech, he hinted at his long ties to Arkansas and billed himself as someone who knows how to take on the Clintons. "If somebody wants to know what it is like running against their organization and their apparatus, come see me," he said. "I've got some scars."
Asked at the gun range whether Chuck Norris—actor, martial artist and punch-line celebrity—plans on joining Huckabee on the trail again, like he did in 2008, Huckabee joked that it would be the other way around.
"I will be joining Chuck Norris on the trail," he said, emphasizing the word "I."
"I want to make sure we understand the pecking order when Chuck is in the room."