COLUMBIA — South Carolina pastors are heading to Arkansas next week for a political-tinged meeting of evangelicals headlined by Mike Huckabee, a Republican who reportedly is mulling a 2016 presidential run.
The event is sponsored by the American Renewal Project, the same group that brought U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to Columbia last month.
Huckabee, a former pastor and Arkansas governor who ran for The White House in 2008, is ending his nationally syndicated radio talk show next Thursday -- the same day that he is set to speak at the project's "Pastors and Pews" event in Little Rock.
"This is the first time I have seen Mike Huckabee this aggressive (about a political run) in five years," American Renewal Project founder David Lane said. "From where I sit, it looks like he's running."
Pastors Brad Adkins of Powdersville First Baptist Church in Easley and Larry Flippo of North Spartanburg Church of God in Spartanburg are among the S.C. clergy heading to the event that also is drawing a handful of pastors from another early-presidential primary state, Iowa.
"I'd like to hear what he has to say," said Adkins, former president of the S.C. Baptist Convention. "It seems like he would be a good candidate."
Adkins has not chosen a favorite for 2016, but he has liked the evangelical messages he's heard from Cruz and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. Adkins, Lane and then-former S.C. Republican party chairman Chad Connelly traveled to Israel with Paul in January.
"We have a lot more choices this time around," Adkins said.
Connelly, now director of evangelical outreach for the Republican National Committee, also is heading to the Arkansas pastors event.
Other pastors attending include: Brad Kelley of Ebenezer Baptist Church in West Union; Eddie Leopard of Fairview Baptist Church in Greer; and Mitch Brooks of Second Baptist Church in Belton.