Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) on Sunday said there is a “very strong likelihood” that he will “clearly state [his] intentions” about a possible White House run in the spring

Huckabee also said former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), who’s announced the launch of a presidential exploratory committee, will be a “formidable candidate.” Bush, however, will not be a factor in his decision to run, Huckabee said.

“If I run for president, … it’s not going to be because someone else did or did not. It’s going to be because I think that the country needs some common sense leadership that brings us back to fiscal sanity, where we quit spending money we don’t have and stop borrowing money that we can never afford to pay back.”

Mike Huckabee, the ordained minister turned presidential hopeful, will begin a nationwide book tour on Saturday near his home on Florida’s panhandle. But his aides say the real kick-off for the tour promoting his latest title, “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy,” will be in (where else?) Iowa

Huckabee’s schedule of events picks up pace considerably starting next weekend in Iowa, where he will visit bookstores and churches in Ames, Cedar Rapids and Windsor Heights. From there, he heads to Lenexa, Kan., Knoxville, Tenn., and Johnson City, Tenn. Huckabee has scheduled four stops in Virginia and five stops in North Carolina.

Huckabee will spend much of his time in the so-called Bible Belt, where he has legions of supporters. While he has stops scheduled at traditional book tour locales — a Barnes & Noble here, a Books-A-Million there — he also is visiting places with overwhelmingly Christian audiences. The morning of Jan. 25, he will be featured at two services at Lenexa Baptist Church in Kansas. Two days later, he is due to sign books at the campus bookstore at Liberty University, the private Christian college in Lynchburg, Va., founded by the late televangelist Jerry Falwell.

“You have to have [$50 million] to be in the game a year from now,” he told TIME in a phone interview this week. “I am having people come up to me, bundlers and financiers who say, ‘You know I didn’t know you before but we think you have a real pathway to the nomination.’“

That wasn’t always the case. In total, Huckabee raised and spent only $16 million in the 2008 contest, a rather minor amount compared to more than $100 million spent by Mitt Romney. The money was painful to raise, and small when it came. “I spent many an hour cooling my heels in the outer offices of potential donors in ’08, and in many cases never even got my calls retuned,” he says. For a time, his campaign manager Chip Saltsman had his BlackBerry set to vibrate every time someone gave an online donation of $100 or more.

This time he says the encouragement has been broad, though he and his advisors are not yet releasing names of bundlers. “If that were not happening,” the almost-candidate says. “I would not be seriously considering anything else.”…

“Having been through this before, I am much better prepared,” he says. “After six and a half years of being on TV, writing 12 books, being on the radio every day, I think my conservative bona fides are pretty well laid out, not in what someone says I said, not in what someone distorts my comments to be, but rather in what they have actually been.”

Mike Huckabee revisited his comments about Beyoncé and the Obama family, saying in an interview airing Sunday that he was trying to make a point about a “cultural divide,” not attack the musical artist or the first couple’s parenting…

The point he was trying to make, he told ABC, was: “If it embarrasses you [to listen to the music with your kids], then why would you possibly think it’s wholesome for your children to put it into their heads?”

“What you put in your brain is also important, as well as what you put into your body, and that was my point, based on what the president himself said,” Huckabee added. “So I think if people read the chapter, they see that it’s about this cultural divide, the disconnect between the three bubbles of New York, D.C., and Hollywood, versus the land of…of guns, grits and gravy.”

While never an outright champion of Common Core, Huckabee has publicly offered support for the proposal in the past. He has praised the standards for having been developed by governors and state education officials. In 2013, he sent a letter to Oklahoma state lawmakers ahead of a vote that would dump Common Core, encouraging them “to resist any attempt to delay implementation” of the standards. And last year, the Washington Post reported that Huckabee urged an organization that helped develop the standards to “rebrand” Common Core, because the name had become “toxic.”

But Huckabee has since not taken kindly to claims that he’s a proponent of Common Core, calling his comments “misconstrued.” In December 2013, he devoted the entire opening monologue of his Fox News show to outlining his concerns about “what Common Core has become,” and encouraging activists on both sides of the issue to move past Common Core itself, claiming that the standards had become too divisive. Instead, he argued for a renewed, broader effort to improve education…

Most alarmingly of all for Huckabee, some activists in another crucial early-primary state have already closed the door on him.​ “Someone like Huckabee shouldn’t even bother,” says Jane Aitken, spokeswoman for the New Hampshire Tea Party Coalition. “People like Huckabee are so far removed that they should shut up about [Common Core].”

This time around, when Huckabee announced that he was considering another run for president, Washington’s journalists collectively began to educate him. You’re going to need real money-men this time, Huck. You need so many of them that they can be divided into silly groups based on how much moolah they bring in. You’re going to need a real PAC, and media professionals. Get some white-paper people, too.

You need to build a real campaign. You’re trying to be president. It can’t just be you and Chuck Norris.

In other words, grow up and surround yourself with the political class and get on board with the technocracy. The modern presidency is for professionals, not populists or patricians. Your last run was a proof of concept. A “Huckabee” is something a lot of people like; now we have to tear it down and re-engineer it so that this product scales for the party and for the nation at large, and still functions at the White House…

The expectation that a presidential aspirant will mount a hugely staffed, professionally executed campaign is a subtle way of forbidding a major shakeup in Washington. The public wants to see a candidate surrounded by hacks and flacks; without that phalanx we suspect a candidate would be quickly overmatched and outwitted. There is no way to beat the system, so Ed Rollins is absolutely correct that Huckabee, like Barack Obama before him, must come to terms with it and join it.