Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee declared his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination yesterday.
Mr Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister turned politician, is the third Republican to enter the race this week.
Two political outsiders, former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, a conservative, launched their presidential campaigns on Monday.
He returned yesterday to his hometown of Hope, Arkansas, the same small town where former president Bill Clinton was born, to make official what the local newspaper called “the worst kept secret” in the state.
He told his supporters at the Hope rally: “It would be perfectly fitting that I would announce here that I am a candidate for president of the United States.”
This time Mr Huckabee hopes to expand on the support of evangelical Christians who helped him win eight states in the 2008 primary campaign which he eventually lost to Senator John McCain.
But he is considered a long shot in a field that already includes several seasoned politicians such as Florida senator Marco Rubio, Kentucky senator Rand Paul and Texas senator Ted Cruz. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin governor Scott Walker are expected to launch their bids soon.
Yet while those prospects have claimed much of the early attention and favour from donors, the Republican race is a wide open contest that could ultimately feature more than 20 major candidates.
Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and first lady, holds a commanding lead in the race for the Democratic nomination. Her only opponent so far is Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, who is running to the left of Mrs Clinton.
Ms Fiorina and Mrs Clinton are bidding to become the first female US president, while Mr Cruz and Mr Rubio, both Cuban-American, are vying to become the first Hispanic president.
In a strategy aimed at working-class conservatives, Mr Huckabee and his aides say his second run would pitch the candidate as an economic populist and foreign affairs hawk who holds deeply traditional views on social issues such as opposition to abortion and gay marriage.
Mr Huckabee, 59, also plans to state that he is the best Republican to take on Mrs Clinton, a former Arkansas first lady. In a recent campaign video, Mr Huckabee argued that in his more than ten years as governor, he took on Democrats in “Bill Clinton’s Arkansas” after Mr Clinton won election to the White House in 1992.
Mr Huckabee rejects calls for a minimum wage hike, saying his proposals will yield a “maximum wage” for workers.