Hot on HuffPost:

See More Stories

Mike Huckabee: Hometown Heavyweight

4 years ago
  0 Comments Say Something  »
Text Size
HOT SPRINGS, Arkansas - Although Mike Huckabee burst onto the national scene on the strength of a diet book, Quit Digging Your Grave with a Knife and Fork: A 12-Step Program to End Bad Habits and Begin a Healthy Lifestyle, now that the former Arkansas governor is preparing for his second run at the GOP nomination, he seems to have regained much of the girth he so famously shed. Still, grass roots Arkansans don't seem to be holding his weight against the backsliding Baptist preacher.
At least that was the feeling the other day at the Central Station Market Place, a labyrinthine flea market and antique center in a rough-around-the-edges shopping center here in the resort town where Bill Clinton went to high school.
"I can understand how that can happen," said Randy Featherston, of the weight gain. "Politics will do that to you." In any event, Featherston said, leaning on the counter of hisjewelry, knickknacks and used book concession, "I think he might have a pretty good chance if he runs."
Mike Huckabee and Jon StewartMike Jones, seated behind his counter in his area, specializing in old, rusted farm implements and tools, agrees on both counts. "It's very hard to keep that weight off."
Jones said he had met Huckabee a number of times, and once gave the governor a pocket knife. A Democrat who voted for Obama in 2008, he says he probably will again, even if Huckabee is the Republican nominee. Still, Jones thinks that Huckabee's chances are good to get the nomination and to be elected.
"Mike Huckabee is very shrewd," said Jones. "He's a very smart man. I don't agree with all his religious views, but he's a very smart man – even if he is a Republican."
Huckabee followed his 2005 diet book with a string of more serious political and inspirational books, before jumping into the crowded 2008 GOP primary field. During the debates, he distinguished himself with a show of compassion for the recession's victims, and set jaws dropping along the row of candidates when he suggested a massive public works program – widening Interstate 95 along the East Coast. He was also one of three hopefuls who raised their hands when moderator Chris Matthews asked who among them did not believe in evolution.
By the national convention, Huckabee finished with the second highest delegate total, and third in popular votes and state primaries won. His amiable, soothing, almost pastoral delivery of hard-edged conservative positions – plus his amateur rock band – led to the weekend slot with Fox News and a weekday, syndicated radio show commentary.
In a Public Policy Polling survey conducted in mid-November, Huckabee came within three points of Obama in a potential match-up, 48-45. A Nov. 22 Quinnipiac survey, conducted at about the same time showed, Huckabee trailing the President by a statistically insignificant margin of 46-44. Still, Huckabee faces some potential hurdles in what is expected to be an even more crowded 2012 Republican primary, especially if the field includes Sarah Palin. Huckabee and the former Alaskan governor would be contesting the same ideological turf, which may explain why Huckabee recently defended Michelle Obama against a snarky attack by Palin on her reality show, in which he supported the First Lady's campaign to find healthy alternatives to rich desserts.
There appear to be some geographic fissures in Huckabee and Palin's populist base. Palin draws her largest and most enthusiastic crowds in the midwestern heartland. But Huckabee seems to be preferred in the Sunbelt suburbs, particularly among college-educated, evangelical men in the managerial sector,
This is especially true here in Arkansas, where the first thing out of the mouth of anyone asked about Huckabee – like the flea market concessionaires – is how much more qualified the hometown boy is than Palin. And they can be harsh.
"I'd rather see him in there than Palin," says Featherston. "He's got more sense about him."
"Sarah Palin doesn't have a chance," says Jones. "She doesn't have the ability to be President – that's for sure.... She doesn't have the brains for it."
Huckabee was nowhere to be seen in person among the winter gray and brown hills of central Arkansas over the holidays, although he has been making the media rounds (including a return appearance on "The Daily Show," where he earned some points with Stewart for supporting the 9/11 first responders bill in the Senate) promoting his latest book, a children's story about Christmas. Without any hard feelings, his shivering countrymen say he might be inspecting his new beachfront home site in Florida, the electoral vote-rich swing state (with a showy, delegate-rich primary and no income tax-unlike Arkansas) where I live.
While he's keeping a home in North Little Rock, he's building a $2.8, million, 4,000-square-foot- house in Blue Mountain Beach, a Panhandle resort community near Destin, Fla., according to the Arkansas Times. Recently, the former governor has been renting digs in Miramar Beach, the paper reported. If he gets homesick in the sunshine over the holiday – he says he still considers himself a Razorback – he could always go to the cineplex to catch True Grit, which is partly set in Arkansas.
Strange political contrasts have emerged from this state of three million. Arkansas produced one of the nation's lowest demagogues – Democratic Gov. Orval Faubus – and one of its most intellectual U.S. Senators – William Fulbright. It gave birth to Wal-Mart, an avatar and behemoth of modern capitalism; and ACORN, the militant, now-defunct community action organization.
The last time an Arkansas governor was nominated for President was in 1992, when Bill Clinton began what is today considered a fairly successful eight-year run. Ironically, both men are originally from the small town of Hope, Ark. (Huckabee's autobiography is titled From Hope to Higher Ground) The men represent two sides of the state's Janus-like schizoid personality: the Democrat, a Saturday night rascal; the Republican a pious, Sunday morning preacher.
Despite an early stumble, Huckabee has lived a charmed political life. In 1993, the year after he failed in an attempt to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers, he squeaked by Bill Clinton's former campaign manager to become the state's second Republican lieutenant governor since Reconstruction. That office became vacant when Lt. Gov. Jim Guy Tucker succeeded to the post when Clinton was elected President. In the wake of Tucker's subsequent fraud conviction, Huckabee withdrew from his race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. David Pryor and became the state's accidental governor. Elected to two full terms, he was folksy and popular, known for playing bass in a rock and roll band and famously "pardoning" Rolling Stone Keith Richards for a 1975 reckless driving ticket.
On the downside, Huckabee has a number of "Willie Hortons" in his background from his time as governor. Several prison inmates who were paroled or whose sentences were commuted went on to commit heinous crimes. And yet, when GOP primary opponents attempted to raise the issue in 2008, the charges failed to gain any traction.
So if Huckabee does return to fighting trim and makes the race in 2012, he'll have plenty of support from fans like Billy Herrell, proprietor of the famed "Billy's House of Guitars & Musical Museum" in Glenwood, Arkansas, where Huckabee liked to hang out and jam when he was governor. Although they never talked politics in the store, Herrell became a fan of the governor.
"He's one of the most common-sense leaders we could possibly have," says the fourth generation musician, standing amidst the glorious clutter of old guitars, autographed pictures, vintage ventriloquist dummies, concert posters, reel-to-reel tape recorders, Elvis clocks with swiveling legs and an old time Coke machine that the company still stocks with the classic, small glass bottles.
"He's a guy that's really trying – not just blowing smoke," says Herrell. "I think he's the best chance we've got."

Our New Approach to Comments

In an effort to encourage the same level of civil dialogue among Politics Daily’s readers that we expect of our writers – a “civilogue,” to use the term coined by PD’s Jeffrey Weiss – we are requiring commenters to use their AOL or AIM screen names to submit a comment, and we are reading all comments before publishing them. Personal attacks (on writers, other readers, Nancy Pelosi, George W. Bush, or anyone at all) and comments that are not productive additions to the conversation will not be published, period, to make room for a discussion among those with ideas to kick around. Please read our Help and Feedback section for more info.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum Comment Moderation Enabled. Your comment will appear after it is cleared by an editor.


Filter by:

Huckabee pardoned or otherwise cleared the ways for the release of two psychopath prisoners who later either raped or murdered. Wayne DuMond was a rape/murder suspect and was accused in at least one other rape after Yukk Hukk the Saturday Night Clown opened the Christian prison gates. Maurice Clemmons murdered four Lakewood, WA police officers as they sat in a coffee shop one fine morning a year ago. Clemmons was later shot dead by a very alert patrol officer who apparently happened onto a Clemmons ambush but smelled a rat. Unlike Huck, who believes everything rats tell him.
Huckleberry is a dope, a sap, and a sucker. If Putin told him he had converted to Christianity, Huck would give him the farm and the keys to the DoD.
What we have today is bad enough. A man this naive and gullible has no business within 500 miles of Washington.

January 06 2011 at 10:35 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Imagine....all this vetting over the author of a diet book and a self described Baptist preacher. Imagine if Mr. M.I. Pinsky had taken these same precautions with Obama, we might have been spared the operatic performance of a socialist reciting his lines from the ever present teleprompters flanking his staged themes of repeated discourse, recurring with each stylized event from the ever familiar podium adorned with the Presidential Seal, flanked by the ever present essentials known as the Obamas sentinels identified by us mortals as Teleprompters. Imagine...during the two plus years with Obama at the helm of this floundering ship, the national debt has risen to the proportions of tsunami magnitude, Three trillion three hundred nine eight billion three hundred thirty million one hundred sixty nine thousand seven hundred ninety four dollars and 44 cents and counting.

Imagine... if Mr. M.I. Pinsky had been the harbinger of truths, he appears to represent; when sharing his thoughts, while marginalizing both Mr. Huckabee and Mr. Featherston, whose emporium was the stage for his vetting concerns regarding Mr. Huckabee in his efforts to bring us folks the truth. Imagine....WFR

January 04 2011 at 8:48 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

I'd consider Huckabee. I would not vote for Palin. As far as Huckabee too religious, I have to disagree. I've never heard the man discuss his church or religion as much as how his faith guides his judgement. Faith is about values not church denomination. So how can someone have too good ??? values? That is exactly what I want in a leader, someone with strong values that he believes in enough to calmly express them so they are understood and someone who strives to live by them all of his life. He never sounds like he is trying to 'make' you accept his beliefs, he justs explains them, and lives by them. Sounds like CHOICE to me. He is actually one of the few politicians who doesn't seem to feel he must force me to believe his view. Maybe he's the only one who respects the voter and really believes the voters are smart enough to make their own decision. Maybe this is what the media doesn't like.

January 04 2011 at 10:32 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

I don't believe at this point in time, the republicans have made any choices for a candidate. The liberal press is injecting their opinions based on NOTHING.

January 04 2011 at 10:32 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Great guy, but I for one do not believe an evangelical Christian can get elected President in this country.

January 04 2011 at 10:29 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

The Only Republican out there I could vote for with a clean conscience is Ron Paul cause he leans more to Libertarian views.I think he would gut most of the wasteful Government agencies that should never been set up in the first place in a right now (it is a so called free market society.)He will and would bring the Free Market back to America.

January 04 2011 at 10:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

And I would definitely vote for Ron Paul. He will not win unless he runs Independent. He is too honest. People don't like the truth.

January 04 2011 at 10:24 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Just for the record, I would vote for Mike Huckabee in a heartbeat!!! I love this man and I think he has what it takes to run our Country.

January 04 2011 at 10:23 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Nope on this guy. That common sense thing is outweighed by his propensity to be a preacher and spread the gospel. There is a definite separation of church and state in this country no matter what he thinks on this issue. I think he cannot abide by that separation and will just naturally and automatically launch into preacher mode.

January 04 2011 at 10:20 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

He is a good man.

January 04 2011 at 10:19 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Follow Politics Daily

  • Comics
Featuring political comics by Robert and Donna TrussellMore>>
  • Woman UP Video
politics daily videos
Weekly Videos
Woman Up, Politics Daily's Online Sunday ShowMore»
politics daily videos
TV Appearances
Showcasing appearances by Politics Daily staff and contributors.More>>