Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee allegedly told his South Carolina consultants that he wasn’t going to run for president in 2012 … or at least that’s what a Palmetto Republican blogger reported on Wednesday.
Of course what could have erupted into a national news story may very well turn out to be the first example of South Carolina’s notoriously dirty political process.
The drama began when the website Process Story ran a banner headline Wednesday afternoon boldly declaring that “Huckabee won’t run.”
If true, this would have obviously been a major bombshell in 2012 Republican presidential primary – and a huge national news story. There’s just one problem … the report is false. In fact, mere moments after the original story was posted, an updated version of the article appeared with a new headline, “Huckabee releasing S.C. team.”
Here’s a screen cap that shows this update, although you can clearly see the original title of the story in the hyperlink …
Process Story‘s hastily-rechristened article also removed any reference to Huckabee supporters claiming that their boss had told them he was dropping out of the race, but it did allege that Huckabee was “giving his former SC supporters the nod to seek work on other presidential campaigns.”
According to Hogan Gidley, the executive director of Huckabee’s national political action committee, both reports are totally inaccurate.
Reached by phone on Wednesday afternoon, Gidley told FITS that rumors about Huckabee pulling out of the race were “cateogrically false.” He then added that there was “absolutely zero truth” to reports that Huckabee was releasing his South Carolina team.
“Gov. Huckabee has been pretty clear that he is seriously considering (a 2012 campaign) and that he will make a decision sometime this summer,” Gidley said. “That is consistent with what he has said for months.”
The rumor about Huckabee comes a day after a new Winthrop University poll showed him leading the GOP field in South Carolina – a state he nearly won in 2008.
So … what prompted this particular website to make such a claim?
For those of you unfamiliar with the incestuous world of Palmetto politics, Process Story is run by Wesley Donehue, a paid consultant to the S.C. Republican Party, the S.C. Senate Republican Caucus and several other “GOP” politicians (including U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson). A veteran dirty trickster, Donehue is no stranger to initiating controversy. In 2008, he was busted running a website that bashed former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson while he was working for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
A year ago, Donehue was at the center of the Will Folks-Nikki Haley sex scandal, sending numerous text messages to our founding editor in the days leading up to his shocking revelation intimating that he had the power to kill – or advance – the story in the mainstream media. Donehue later claimed that he had no direct knowledge of an affair between Folks and Haley.
Sources tell FITS that Donehue – who was originally planning to work for former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s aborted bid – is currently working for former U.S. Speaker Newt Gingrich, although those reports are unconfirmed.
Donehue tells FITS he isn’t working for Gingrich or any other presidential candidate at this point.
“At this point I don’t know if I will work for anybody,” Donehue said. “Nobody floats my boat right now. I was definitely leaning toward (Haley) Barbour but now I’m not sure who I will support.”
Donehue also stood by his original report – and the updated version of the story – saying he was merely reporting on what sources told him.
“Governor Huckabee is the front-runner – so we expect a certain level of unfounded rumors lobbed our way, but this one is just odd,” Gidley said. “I’m not sure why Wes put out that story – or what source he is quoting – but it’s simply not true.”
UPDATE: Erick Erickson of RedState.com bought the “Huckabee is out” rumor hook, line and sinker …
(Click to enlarge)
UPDATE II: Here’s an interesting piece on the drama from New York Mag.
UPDATE III: For those of you curious as to our thoughts on Huckabee, here’s something you might want to read.