Huckabee has Limbaugh radio crown in his sights


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The Independent US

Rush Limbaugh, for two decades the undisputed king of conservative talk radio in the US, is suddenly faced with a potent pretender to his crown.

Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas who ran an unsuccessful but surprisingly tenacious campaign for the Republican nomination for President four years ago, is making a head-on pitch for Mr Limbaugh's 15 million weekly listeners. Since the 2008 race, Mr Huckabee has been presenting a weekly show on Fox News, Rupert Murdoch's news channel which has come to resemble a holding pen for out-of-office Republicans.

Yesterday, he revealed he would also launch a nationally syndicated daily radio talk show that will compete in the same afternoon timeslot as Mr Limbaugh's show. The decision is sure to bolster his status as a gentle powerbroker inside the Republican party, putting his views in front of potentially millions of talk radio listeners who tend to skew right on the political spectrum.

While the evangelical wing of the Republican party has so far been unexcited by the current slate of presidential contenders, Mr Huckabee commands as much affection within that group as he generated when he first emerged on the national stage. His folksy humour, and a penchant for playing the guitar at rallies, put him among the top three candidates last time round and he broke many followers' hearts with his announcement last May that he would not run in 2012.

Now, it is Mr Limbaugh who is most worried. Mr Huckabee's courtly style contrasts with his abrasiveness, and Cumulus Media Networks is promising a big push for its new star when he starts broadcasting in April.