First on NH1 News: Huckabee to attend major NHGOP summit next month
CONCORD - Add another big name to the growing roster of probable Republican presidential candidates attending next month's New Hampshire GOP's "First-in-the-Nation Leadership Summit."
NH1 News has learned that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will speak at the confab.
Meanwhile, NHGOP chair Jennifer Horn announced Wednesday that former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania (a 2012 Republican presidential candidate) and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson won't be attending the event.
And she appeared to put pressure on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to commit to the summit.
Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, ran for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, winning the Iowa caucuses and seven other contests as he battled eventual nominee Sen. John McCain deep into the primary calendar before ending his bid. In a sign that he was seriously gearing up for another White House run, Huckabee last year ended his nationally syndicated radio program and earlier this year he stopped doing his popular weekend show on the Fox News Channel.
"We are pleased that Governor Huckabee recognizes the importance of the First in the Nation Primary and has agreed to attend our Republican Leadership Summit. New Hampshire Republicans look forward to hearing more about his plans to turn around our country during his appearance in Nashua," said Horn in a statement.
The summit will be held Friday April 17 and Saturday April 18 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nashua. NH1 has learned that Huckabee will address the crowd on Saturday afternoon.
While many of the other potential 2016 Republican White House hopefuls have visited New Hampshire multiple times already this year, this will be Huckabee's first visit to the Granite State in 2015.
Horn said she was disappointed "that scheduling conflicts prevent Senator Santorum and Dr. Carson from attending."
As for Christie, Horn said "we have been in frequent contact with Governor Christie's staff are and still trying to confirm his attendance. We are hopeful that Governor Christie will recognize the importance of this event and find time in his schedule to address the summit."
Matt Mowers, who stepped down earlier this year as executive director of the NHGOP, is now Christie's top adviser in New Hampshire.
600 Republican activists are expected at the NHGOP event, which was first reported by Chip Griffin of the Primary Digest back in late January.