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Imagine Barack Obama facing off with this winsome, affable pastor and his disarming smile. Instead of that pinched faced Santorum. Or that flip flopping Romney. Or that smug, petulant Gingrich.  Imagine Obama debating this cherub of a man with his homespun rhetoric and consistently conservative and compassionate record.  Obama would have a run for his money. But Mike Huckabee didn’t run this year and this is the reason he gives:

In an interview with an Israeli TV station, Mike Huckabee lamented the current state of the Republican party, stating that the GOP’s ‘toxic atmosphere’ had discouraged him for running for president in 2012.

Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and a GOP presidential candidate in 2008, announced last May that he would not seek the Republican nomination this year, much to the disappointment of many in his party.

He discussed his decision during the interview on Sunday, explaining that “this was not the good year” for him to run again, despite his strong poll numbers.

“I think that there is just such a toxic atmosphere right now, specifically in the Republican party,” he said. “I would love to say that it’s going to be all about ideas and solutions, but unfortunately a lot of it is about just being able to say, ‘I’m more angry at the Obama administration than somebody else.’ That’s not what motivates me politically or governmentally. I believe it ought to be about solutions.”

Huckabee’s comments reflect the sentiment of many in the Republican party who feel that the contentious primary is doing more harm than good. On Monday, former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, another prominent GOP figure who many hoped would pursue higher office, made a similar statement, telling CBS News that the brutal primary season was detracting from the party’s goals. “Any time we’re not talking about Obama’s policies and the results of those policies, we’re not talking about what’s the best thing for Republicans in the election,” he said.

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