HOPE, Ark. — Mike Huckabee, who excited evangelical voters in his first presidential race in 2008 and retains much of their good will, announced on Tuesday that he would again seek the Republican nomination despite a crowded field of rivals for his natural base in the party.
A former Southern Baptist pastor and Arkansas governor, Mr. Huckabee is returning in hopes of once more dominating among social conservatives, but he is acutely aware he needs broader support to avoid the snares of last time, when he ran dry of money and failed to appeal much beyond the South.
After describing a childhood of school prayer, fishing for catfish and running for student council in Hope, Mr. Huckabee said, “So it seems perfectly fitting that it would be here that I announce I am a candidate for president of the United States.”
It was no small detail that he declared his candidacy in Hope, where he was born. Its fame as the hometown of an even better-known Arkansas politician, Bill Clinton, highlights a major theme of Mr. Huckabee’s 2016 pitch — that he is well suited to be the Republican nemesis for Hillary Rodham Clinton, if she becomes the Democratic nominee, because Mr. Huckabee spent years in state politics fighting what he calls the “Clinton machine.”