Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee announced late Saturday that - in a "spiritual" decision guided by his relationship with Christ - he will not seek the Republican nomination for president in 2012.
"All the factors say go, but my heart says no. And that's the decision that I've made," he announced at the end of his FOX News show.
The 2008 presidential candidate said that his final decision not to run -- which he arrived at "late this week" -- came in spite of donors' enthusiasm and robust poll numbers even in states outside of his native South. He also noted that his wife and children have been supportive of a run.
"I don't expect everyone to understand this, but I am a believer and a follower of Jesus Christ," he said. "And that relationship is far more important to me than any political office. For me, the discussion and decision is not a political one, not a financial one. It's not even a practical one. It's a spiritual one."
Huckabee, who snatched a surprise victory in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses in 2008, has performed at or near the top of the GOP pack in several national presidential polls.
The announcement came at the end of an hour-long program during which Huckabee interviewed onetime Saved by the Bell star Mario Lopez about healthy eating and then played the bass guitar alongside a camouflage-cowboy-hat-sporting Ted Nugent. Huckabee said at the conclusion of his announcement that he will return to his primetime show - which he could not have continued if he pursued a run -- next week.
The FOX show was followed by a short "special announcement" by possible candidate (and FOX news contributor) Donald Trump. "A lot of people are very happy that he will not be running, especially other candidates," said Trump. "So Mike, enjoy the show, your ratings are terrific, you're making a lot of money, you're building a beautiful house in Florida, good luck."