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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 March 2008, 03:35 GMT
Profile: Mike Huckabee
Mike Huckabee
Mike Huckabee played his bass guitar on the campaign trail

Mike Huckabee strikes a strong chord with a key group of Republican voters - the social conservatives.

But that appeal did not prove enough to keep him in the race for the party's 2008 presidential nomination.

He conceded the contest to John McCain on 4 March, following defeats in a series of state primaries.

As a former Baptist minister from the southern state of Arkansas, Mr Huckabee's campaign speeches included frequent references to God and the Bible.

Unlike some one-time contenders for the Republican nomination, he is against abortion and gay marriage - and is not a recent convert to either position.

He plays the bass guitar, in a rock band called Capitol Offense, and does not believe in the theory of evolution.

His biography is classically American - the son of a fireman, and the first in his family to complete high school, who rose to be governor of Arkansas for more than 10 years.

Opinion polls give him high marks for honesty and morality, and his humour goes down well in some circles.

"It's better to be called a dark horse than a dead horse," he said, when the strength of his challenge to the better-known Republican candidates started to become clear.

Cash shortage

An unexpected win in Iowa on 3 January 2008 put him on the map, as far as the presidential race was concerned.

There's a definite momentum, and what we've got to do is keep it going
Mike Huckabee

He achieved this despite having far less money to spend than the Republican who led the polls in the state for months, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

However, he was unable to capitalise on that victory with another win in January, coming third in New Hampshire and Michigan, a close second to John McCain in South Carolina and fourth in Florida.

Ahead of the Super Tuesday contest on 5 February, he devoted most of his energies to campaigning in Southern states where his socially conservative message goes down well.

He got off to a good start on Super Tuesday when he took West Virginia, helped by the support of John McCain supporters who gave him their vote in order to deny Mitt Romney a win.

That was followed by victories in his home state of Arkansas and in Alabama, another Southern state.

However, in later contests he struggled to catch up with a resurgent Mr McCain, particularly given his limited campaign funding.

Four marathons

Mr Huckabee's election platform included a proposal to abolish income tax and replace it with a federal sales tax. Critics suggested that would penalise the poor, despite a proposed system of rebates.

Mr Huckabee had a mixed tax and spending record as governor of Arkansas.

He has said America should end its dependence on food and energy imports.

He has hawkish views on the Iraq war, but the Council on Foreign Relations lists his position on many foreign policy issues as "unknown".

A stir over comments he made following the assassination of Pakistan's opposition leader Benazir Bhutto did little to reassure those who question his foreign policy experience.

On health, he emphasised the value of preventive care.

Mr Huckabee was himself diagnosed with diabetes in 2003, before going on a diet, losing 110 pounds (50kg) and completing four marathons.

The experience led him to write a book, humorously titled Quit Digging Your Grave with a Knife and Fork.

He shares his hometown, Hope, Arkansas, with former president Bill Clinton.

In another of his jokes, he appealed to conservatives to "give Hope a second chance".

Analysts speculate that he may have stayed in the Republican race for as long as he did in order to build his profile for a bid in 2012.

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