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Huckabee, citing social issues, enters GOP field

NASHVILLE (BP) — With the announcement of his candidacy May 5, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee joined a field of six Republicans and two Democrats who have officially entered the race for president of the United States.

At least seven additional Republicans and three additional Democrats will “probably” run, according to The New York Times’ “2016 presidential election candidate tracker.”

Huckabee, in announcing his candidacy from his hometown of Hope, Ark., spoke of surrendering his life to Christ at a Baptist church during Vacation Bible School, attending Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark., and defending life and marriage.

America “has lost our way morally,” Huckabee said. “We witnessed the slaughter of over 55 million babies in the name of choice, and we are now threatening the foundation of religious liberty by criminalizing Christianity and demanding that we abandon biblical principles of natural marriage.”

A former Southern Baptist pastor, Huckabee opposes abortion and same-sex marriage, as do all other announced Republican candidates: Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio. Both announced Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, support legalizing gay marriage and protecting the right to abortion.

Conservative commentator and columnist Brent Bozell told LifeSiteNews having several social conservatives in the race will help the GOP in 2016.

“The more conversation on this, the better,” Bozell said of social issues. “The more Republicans return to their roots on social issues, the better. So many of them have spent the better part of the last three decades either running from [social issues] or, in some cases, running against them. And all they have done is alienate social conservatives.”

RedState editor-in-chief Erick Erickson, however, told LifeSiteNews he believes the large number of social conservatives in the presidential race “risk[s] diluting the field and offering so many choices that the left of the party is able to consolidate.”

Carson, a social commentator and retired neurosurgeon, announced his candidacy May 4 in his hometown of Detroit, referencing his faith throughout his speech, according to the Detroit Free Press. Carson is affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

“If God ordains that we get into White House, we’re going to change the government into something more like a well-run business,” Carson said.

Last month, Carson withdrew as a speaker at the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference in June after Southern Baptist bloggers raised theological and practical concerns about his appearance.

Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, announced her candidacy on ABC’s “Good Morning America” May 4, saying, “Yes, I’m running for president. I think I’m the best person for the job because I understand how the economy actually works. I understand the world, who’s in it.”

In March, Fiorina wrote on the Susan B. Anthony List blog that she supports the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, legislation introduced in Congress to limit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Cruz, Paul and Rubio each announced their candidacies earlier this spring.

Billionaire Donald Trump has not announced his candidacy in the Republican field but has hired campaign workers in early primary states, the Washington Post reported. Trump likely will announce whether he is running in June or July, according to the Post. He has made plans to step away from his TV reality show “The Apprentice,” according to New England Cable News.

Trump has become pro-life in recent years, advocating exceptions to an abortion ban only in cases of rape and incest and to save the life of the mother, according to LifeNews.com. Trump opposes legalizing gay marriage.

On the Democratic side, Sanders, an Independent senator from Vermont, announced his candidacy April 30, writing in an email, “After a year of travel, discussion and dialogue, I have decided to be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president,” according to The Times.

Clinton announced her candidacy April 12.

In other news, two former aides of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, another likely Republican candidate, pled not guilty May 4 to nine criminal counts each in connection with improper lane closures on the New York City-area George Washington Bridge in 2013.

At least two announced candidates are Southern Baptists: Cruz and Huckabee. Rubio has long attended a Southern Baptist church though he retains formal affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a probable Republican candidate according to The Times, is also Catholic but has spoken in numerous Louisiana Southern Baptist churches and at the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s annual meeting.