OVERLOOKED: On winter book tour Huckabee deflected Scott Walker red meat softball 

If Mike Huckabee's "very important" announcement that he's promised to make via his eponymously-named Fox News Channel forum this Sunday turns out to be - as some around the Washington Examiner offices today are expecting - that he will forgo a 2012 White House run, we might have had a hint here in Washington a few months ago.

In late February, Huckabee came to D.C. to promote his latest compendium of hokey homespun homilies at the National Press Club.  C-SPAN was there to record his remarks.  Political observers were watching for clues to see if Huckabee was testing the waters for another White House run, appealing to the Republican presidential primary electorate, sounding out potential campaign themes.

A question was posed by a plucky reporter from the righty news site CNSNews.com and it focused on policy, on teacher salaries and public employee unions. But the real story seems to be a political one: Huckabee had a perfect chance to sing the praises of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) whose contentious, high profile battle with public employee unions was winning over the GOP presidential primary electorate base, and "Huck" took a pass.  Michele Bachmann wouldn't have.

Speculation over Walker's tactics could be fair game, as Democratic chief executives in true blue states like Maryland, Massachusetts and - perhaps most effectively - in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's New York have managed to extract big concessions from government employee unions without the scorched earth left behind, but Huckabee failed to address that, too.

Instead, he seemed a little perturbed in answering "I'm not going to second guess Governor Walker. You know, each governor has to govern his own state."  Huckabee went on to veer from the conservative populist path by bragging: "If you look at the record, we had the highest increases in teacher pay during my time as governor."  And he boasted that he actually boosted public pensions.  "We also made major changes in teacher pension and retirement plans but I knew that we could fund them and we did and we went from some of the worst pay in the country to some of the best in our region."

It's this sort of divergence from conservative Republican tenets - and on a then-extremely salient issue - that endears Huckabee to a press corps that otherwise recoils from politicians who share his unbending social conservatism, but it's hardly a feasible strategy for ingratiating yourself with the GOP primary base.  Maybe "Huck" was sending a message, after all: that he just wants be able to hold forth in front of a microphone - on TV, on radio, on book tours - without being bothered about keeping up the base-biting talking points that another presidential bid would demand of him.

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