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Republican Mike Huckabee announces 2016 presidential bid

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Former Republican Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition's forum in Waukee, Iowa, April 25, 2015.   REUTERS/Jim Young

Former Republican Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition's forum in Waukee, Iowa, April 25, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young

REUTERS

Former Republican Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition's forum in Waukee, Iowa, April 25, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young

Republican Mike Huckabee has entered the race for his party's 2016 presidential nomination.

In a speech filled with fiery rhetoric, Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, said that, if elected, he would change government policies to focus more on the economic plight of middle-class Americans.

He was also tough on Islamic State, saying he would change the US approach from attempting to contain the militant group and instead would "conquer" it.

Huckabee vowed strong US support for Israel and took a dim view of negotiations aimed at deterring Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

"Hell will freeze over" before Iran gets a nuclear weapon, he added.

A former Baptist pastor and unabashed culture warrior, he entered the Republican field facing competition for the support of social conservatives who backed him in 2008.

This time, other Republicans with national recognition like U.S. Senator Ted Cruz have emerged as rivals for the role of leading crusader on social issues such as abortion rights and gay marriage.

Polls show Huckabee's support among Republican voters is in the single digits.

Reuters


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