Thursday, January 24, 2008

Mike Huckabee - Biography and History

Mike Huckabee

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Mike Huckabee
Mike Huckabee

In office
July 15, 1996January 9, 2007
Lieutenant(s) Winthrop Paul Rockefeller (1996-2006)
Preceded by Jim Guy Tucker
Succeeded by Mike Beebe

In office
November 20, 1993July 15, 1996
Governor Jim Guy Tucker
Preceded by Jim Guy Tucker
Succeeded by Winthrop Paul Rockefeller

In office
Preceded by Mark Warner
Succeeded by Janet Napolitano

Born August 24, 1955 (1955-08-24) (age 52)
Flag of Arkansas Hope, Arkansas
Political party Republican
Spouse Janet Huckabee[1]
Children John Mark, David, and Sarah
Alma mater Ouachita Baptist University
Profession American Politician, Author, Public Speaker, & Inactive Minister
Religion Southern Baptist
Signature Mike Huckabee's signature

Michael Dale "Mike" Huckabee (born August 24, 1955) is an American politician, a member of the Republican Party. He was the governor of the U.S. state of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007[2] and is a candidate for the 2008 United States presidential election; he announced his candidacy on January 28, 2007.

Huckabee is the author of several books, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, a public speaker, and a musician, playing bass guitar in his rock band, Capitol Offense. He is well known for having lost 110 pounds (50 kg) in a very short time and then advocating a healthy lifestyle.[3] He and his wife, Janet, have three grown children: John Mark, David, and Sarah.



Early life and education

Huckabee was born in Hope, Arkansas,[4] to Mae Elder (1925-1999) and Dorsey Wiles Huckabee (1923-1996), both natives of Hope. His surname is of English origin.[5] His father worked as a fireman and mechanic, and his mother worked as a clerk in a gas company.[6] His father was a strict disciplinarian, and left a lasting impression on young Huckabee, which he has turned into a well-honed aphorism. Speaking to Charles Gibson of ABC News, he explained with a grin: "My father was the ultimate patriot. You know, he’d lay on the stripes, and I’d see stars."[7]

Huckabee's first job, at 14, was working at a radio station where he would read the news and weather.[8] He was elected Governor of Arkansas Boys State in 1972[9] and is a Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership Alumnus. He was president of Hope High School in 1973.[10] He has one sister who is a middle school teacher.[11]

Huckabee married his wife, Janet McCain, on May 25, 1974.[11] He graduated magna cum laude from Ouachita Baptist University, completing his bachelor's degree in Religion in 2½ years before attending Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, where he dropped out after one year.[12][13][14] He has two honorary doctoral degrees: a Doctor of Humane Letters, received from John Brown University in 1991, and a Doctor of Laws from Ouachita Baptist University in 1992.[15][16]

Pastoral career

At 23, Huckabee was a staffer for James Robison, a television evangelist.[10] Robison commented, "His convictions shape his character and his character will shape his policies. His whole life has been shaped by moral absolutes."[10] Huckabee has stated, "Politics are totally directed by worldview. That's why when people say, 'We ought to separate politics from religion,' I say to separate the two is absolutely impossible".[17] Huckabee believes in Biblical inerrancy.[10] Prior to his political career, Huckabee was pastor of several Southern Baptist churches in Arkadelphia, Texarkana, and Pine Bluff, Arkansas. In both Texarkana and Pine Bluff Huckabee started 24-hour television stations "where he produced documentaries and hosted a program called Positive Alternatives.[18] He encouraged the all-white Immanuel Baptist Church to accept black members in the mid 1980s.[10][19] He served as president of a religion-oriented television station. In 1989 Huckabee ran against the Rev. Dr. Ronnie Floyd of Springdale for the presidency of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.[20] Huckabee won and served as president from 1989 to 1991.

Early political career

In 1992, in Huckabee's first political race, he lost to incumbent U.S. Senator Dale Bumpers (D), receiving 40 percent of the vote in the general election.[21] That same election saw Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton ascend to the Presidency, making Lieutenant Governor Jim Guy Tucker the new Governor. Huckabee narrowly won a special election for lieutenant governor on July 27, 1993. He defeated Nate Coulter, who had been Bumpers' campaign manager the previous year[22] (51%-49%).[23] Huckabee became only the second Republican since Reconstruction to serve as Arkansas lieutenant governor, the first being Maurice L. Britt from 1967 to 1971.

Dick Morris, who had previously worked for Bill Clinton, advised Huckabee on his race in 1993, and again in 1994 when Huckabee ran for re-election.[24] Huckabee commented that Morris was a "personal friend".[24] A newspaper article reported on Huckabee's 1993 win: "Morris said the mistake Republicans always make is that they are too much of a country club set. What we wanted to do was run a progressive campaign that would appeal to all Arkansans.'"[24] Morris elaborated, "So we opened the campaign with ads that characterized Mike as more of a moderate whose values were the same as those of other Arkansans."[24]

In April 1994, Huckabee withdrew from a speaking engagement before the Council of Conservative Citizens. Huckabee commented, "I will not participate in any program that has racist overtones. I've spent a lifetime fighting racism and anti-Semitism."[25]

In 1994, Huckabee was re-elected to a full term as lieutenant governor, beating Democrat Charlie Cole Chaffin with nearly 59% of the vote.[26] While Lieutenant Governor, Huckabee accepted $71,500 in speaking fees and traveling expenses from a nonprofit group, Action America. R. J. Reynolds was the group's largest contributor.[19]

In October 1995, David Pryor announced that he was retiring from the United States Senate. Huckabee then announced he was running for the open seat and moved well ahead in the polls.[27] He won the Republican nomination unopposed.[28]

During his campaign, Huckabee opposed in December then-Governor Tucker's plan for a constitutional convention.[29] The plan was defeated by voters 20%-80% in a special election. In January 1996, Huckabee campaigned in televised ads paid for by the Republican National Committee and the Arkansas Republican Party against a highway referendum. Tucker supported the referendum, which included tax increases and a bond program, to improve 1,300 miles (2,100 km) of highway.[30] On the referendum, the bond question, which included a sales tax increase and a gas tax increase, lost 13%-87%. A second question, a 5 cent increase on diesel tax, lost 14%-86%.[30][31] Huckabee also opposed Tucker's plan for school consolidation.[31]

But in May 1996 Tucker, involved in the Whitewater scandal, was convicted "on one count of arranging nearly $3 million in fraudulent loans" and he promised to resign by July 15.[32] Huckabee then announced he would quit the Senate race and instead fill the unexpired term of Tucker.[28]

Governor of Arkansas

Mike Huckabee speaking at a Southern California engagement in October 2007
Mike Huckabee speaking at a Southern California engagement in October 2007

Tucker, insisting he had a strong case for appeal,[33] rescinded his resignation as Huckabee was preparing to be sworn in, but within a few hours reinstated his resignation after Huckabee threatened to initiate impeachment proceedings against Tucker.[10] Huckabee was sworn in as Governor of Arkansas on July 15, 1996. In November 1998, Huckabee was elected to a full four-year term by defeating retired Colonel Gene McVay in the primary and Jonesboro attorney Bill Bristow in the general election, becoming the state's third elected Republican Governor since Reconstruction. In November 2002, Huckabee was reelected to his second four-year term by defeating State Treasurer Jimmie Lou Fisher, garnering 53 percent of the vote. By the end of his term, Huckabee owned the third-longest tenure of any Arkansas Governor. Only Democrats Orval Faubus, who served six consecutive two-year terms (1955–1967), and Bill Clinton, who served eleven years, eleven months (1979–1981; 1983–1992), had longer tenures.

The first years

In late 1996, Huckabee campaigned for ballot Amendment 1, a plan to adjust property tax rules to make school funding more equal across the state, and Amendment 2, a constitutional amendment increasing the state sales tax 0.125% to improve the state's park system and natural resources.[34][35][36]As part of the campaign, Huckabee traveled the entire length of the Arkansas River within Arkansas by boat.[37] Amendment 1 passed 52%-48% and Amendment 2 passed 51%-49%.[38]

Huckabee proclaimed 1997 as a year of racial reconciliation by saying "Let every one of us make it our priority to bring reconciliation, not so much that we can force it or legislate it, because we cannot, but that we begin in each of our own lives to purpose in our hearts that we will not harbor anger, hostility, prejudice, bigotry and racism toward any person."[10][39]

Huckabee signed legislation to create a health insurance program which extended coverage to children of lower income families, to be funded in part by Medicaid, SCHIP, and a tobacco industry lawsuit settlement.[40] The program, ARKids First, cut the number of uninsured children from 12% nationally to 9% in 2003, comparatively.[41] Also in his first year as governor Huckabee signed a partial birth abortion ban and a $7.6 Million Smart Start program for primary school students to learn "the basic skills of reading, math, and character." Huckabee vetoed a $140 million bill for capital improvements. The Arkansas General Assembly overrode the veto.[42]

Huckabee signed the Child Welfare Agency Licensing Act in 1997. This bill has provisions which allow religious groups to contract for social services with the state without having to compromise their principles. An excerpt reads,

"Provided that the health, safety and welfare of children in the care of a child welfare agency is not endangered, nothing in this act shall be construed to permit the Board to promulgate or enforce any rule that has the effect of: (A) interfering with the religious teaching or instruction offered by a child welfare agency; (B) infringing upon the religious beliefs of the holder(s) of a child welfare agency license; (C) infringing upon the right of an agency operated by a religious organization to consider creed in any decision or action relating to admitting or declining to admit a child or family for services; (D) infringing upon the parents' right to consent to a child's participating in prayer or other religious practices while in the care of the child welfare agency; (E) prohibiting the use of corporal discipline."[43]

Huckabee made sure that state agencies were compliant with charitable choice.[44] Huckabee's administration issued guidelines in October 2000, which allow religious groups to offer voluntary religious programs and to leave their religious artifacts on the walls as long as welfare clients are not pressured to convert and tax money doesn't directly underwrite them. Religious groups are allowed to reject a job candidate on religious grounds. The guidelines also guarantee that any client can receive alternative placement if the client objects to a religious provider.[45]

In a February 1998 presidential straw poll of 65 Christian Coalition leaders, Huckabee came in second to John Ashcroft and ahead of Steve Forbes, JC Watts and George W. Bush.[46]

On May 22, 1998, the Arkansas Ethics Commission fined Huckabee US$1,000 for failing to report campaign payments made to Huckabee and his wife.[47] In October, 1998 the Arkansas Times suggested Huckabee used a fund set up for the maintenance of the Governor's Mansion for his own personal use.[48][49] The Times later reported Huckabee was listed as the recipient of furniture given to the Governor's Mansion and not the Mansion itself.[50] Tom Mars, Huckabee's attorney, denied any misuse or inappropriate actions.[51]

Wayne DuMond case

Main article: Wayne DuMond

Huckabee has come under criticism for his handling of the case of Wayne DuMond (also spelled Dumond), a convicted rapist who was released during Huckabee's governorship and who subsequently sexually assaulted and murdered a woman in Missouri.[52] DuMond's case had attracted national attention in the mid-1990s from critics of President Clinton who felt that Clinton, Arkansas Governor at the time of the rape, had been too harsh with DuMond because DuMond's victim was a distant Clinton relative. Clinton had recused himself from any involvement in the case. Before taking office, Huckabee met with DuMond's wife and privately announced his intention that DuMond be set free, stating his unhappiness with the way Clinton handled the case.[53]

On September 20, 1996, Huckabee publicly announced his intention of commuting DuMond's sentence to time served. DuMond had originally been sentenced to life plus twenty years in prison, but in 1992, Tucker reduced the sentence to 39½ years, which gave DuMond the possibility of parole.[54] There was strong opposition to Huckabee's plan from DuMond's rape victims, female Arkansas legislators, and various law enforcement officials, leaving Huckabee in a difficult situation politically.[55][52][56]

On October 31, 1996, Huckabee met privately with the parole board to talk about the DuMond case, in apparent violation of Arkansas law. On January 16, 1997, DuMond was granted parole, just five months after he had been rejected. Huckabee released a statement saying, "I concur with the board’s action and hope the lives of all those involved can move forward. The action of the board accomplishes what I sought to do in considering an earlier request for commutation ...In light of the action of the board, my original intent to commute the sentence to time served is no longer relevant."[52] The parole was granted on the condition that DuMond leave the state. He moved to Smithville, Missouri in 1999 and was later convicted there of sexually assaulting and murdering a woman who lived near his home.[55] DuMond was also a suspect in the murder of a pregnant woman in Platte County, Missouri.[55] DuMond died in prison in 2005.[57] Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley has argued Huckabee granted too many clemencies.[58]

In 2005, The Arkansas Times reported on the role that Huckabee played in the parole board's decision.[59]

When questioned about the case during his presidential campaign in 2007, Huckabee has denied pressuring any parole board members to release DuMond, despite three of the parole board members stating that they felt he did pressure them to do so.[60] Huckabee's official website states: "Governor Huckabee either denied Wayne DuMond's clemency request, or took no action (which is the same as a denial) on four separate occasions." The website states that it was Governor Jim Tucker who "made Wayne DuMond immediately eligible for parole,"[61] which, his website says, is granted by the parole board and not by the governor.[citation needed]

First full term

In January 1999, Huckabee joined the presidential exploratory committee of Lamar Alexander.[62] Later, Huckabee endorsed George W. Bush. The Washington Post reported in February 2000,

"This is a guy who gets things done," said Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. "The more people get to know George Bush, the more than are going to get to like him."[63]

On April 1, 1999, Huckabee signed into law a three cent increase in tax on gasoline and a four cent increase on diesel.[64] Attached to the bill was a bond issue to pay for highway construction. The Commercial Appeal reported: "All the diesel money will be earmarked to pay off the bonds or, if the bond issue fails, to directly finance repairs to the interstates. The gasoline tax money will finance work on non-interstate state roads, notably projects approved in a 1991 road program that without new money remains seven years from completion. Should the bond issue fail, the taxes would remain in place, lessening the chances that the trucking industry will campaign against the bonds." Huckabee commented that the bond issue "won't affect taxes, it will only affect construction acceleration."[65]

Huckabee led a public relations campaign for the bond program for road reconstruction.[66] Arkansas voters approved Huckabee's program.[67] In 1999, the Arkansas Comprehensive Testing, Assessment and Accountability Program (ACTAAP) was established.[68][69] Huckabee modeled ACTAAP after K-12 programs in other states:

"..I've been fortunate to become friends with Gov. Jim Hunt of North Carolina and Gov. George W. Bush of Texas. They've shared their comprehensive assessment and accountability programs. We now have statewide academic standards that allow us to set clear teaching objectives. We have statewide assessments linked to those standards. We have accountability systems with consequences for schools that fail to perform."[70]

Subsequent legislation amended ACTAAP to conform to No Child Left Behind.[71] Later, in 2005, Huckabee stated,

"And one thing I salute about the president is No Child Left Behind, and no matter what you've heard about it let me tell you it's the best thing that ever happened in education because it says we're not going to let children spend years and years and let taxpayers spend thousands and thousands of dollars only to find out when the kid graduates high school that he's basically a functional illiterate, that we're not going to leave him lingering back in those classrooms and that he or she will get a decent education and we will hold accountable those who are responsible for getting that child a good education."[72]

In July 1999, Huckabee hosted a $500 dollar a plate fundraiser for Rudy Giuliani's campaign for US Senate in Little Rock.[73]

Rather than funnel one hundred percent of the state's tobacco settlement revenues into the general fund, Huckabee campaigned to put it in the state's health care system.[74]

On March 7, 2001, Huckabee signed a tax on private nursing homes for $5.25 per day per non-Medicare patient.[75] However, Huckabee was named “Friend of a Taxpayer” by Americans for Tax Reform for his cut in statewide spending.[76]

On April 11, 2001, Huckabee signed the "Covenant Marriage Act," which is a marriage contract option that compels the couple to seek counseling if problems develop during the marriage, provides limited grounds for divorce or separation, and restricts lawsuits against spouses.[77][78] Huckabee said the law, "offers couples a chance to be held to a higher level of marital commitment."[79] He and his wife converted to a covenant marriage in 2004.[80]

In 2001 Huckabee urged student districts to allow students to pray and proclaimed October as "Student Religious Liberty Month."[81]

Later in 2001, his refusal to raise taxes in the face of a budget shortfall sparked criticism from lawmakers and the media. In response to the criticism he created the "Tax Me More Fund", which was a voluntary fund for people who felt that the government needed to raise more taxes.[82] State Sen. Minority Leader John Brown called the "Tax Me More Fund" a campaign tactic.[82] However, the Club for Growth argues Huckabee increased state spending 65.3 percent (1996–2004) and supported five tax increases.[83] In response, Huckabee said he doubled the standard deduction and the child care tax credit, eliminated the marriage penalty and the capital gains tax on the sale of a home, and reduced the capital gains tax for both businesses and individuals.[84] Ernest Dumas of the Arkansas Times, a consistent Huckabee critic,[85] responded most of the tax cuts were small deductions and exemptions initiated by the state legislature, that the broad-based tax cut was proposed by his predecessor and Huckabee was "the biggest taxer and spender in Arkansas history."[86] Former Arkansas State Representative Randy Minton (R) has said; "[Huckabee's] support for taxes split the Republican Party, and damaged our name brand."[87] The group has pointed out that Huckabee publicly opposed the repeal of a sales tax on groceries and medicine in 2002, signed a bill raising taxes on gasoline in 1999, and signed a $5.25 bed-tax on private nursing home patients in 2001.[88][89][84]

In 2002, Huckabee ran for Governor and his wife Janet ran for Arkansas Secretary of State. The New York Times reported this set off an "avalanche of criticism." A Republican State Representative, Jake Files, commented, "'That's just a lot of power in one family's hands"[90] Mike Huckabee later stated that his wife tried to recruit other Republican candidates willing to run for Secretary of State. But no one else was willing, so she ran herself.[11] Mike Huckabee won his race with 53 percent of the vote, while his wife Janet lost her race by 62% to 38%.[91]

Second full term

On November 21, 2002, the Arkansas Supreme Court declared the state's school funding procedure was unconstitutional and ordered to produce a fair system. Huckabee proposed a plan to consolidate schools districts of less than 1,500 students. The plan would have consolidated 310 schools districts into 107-116 schools districts with a more centralized administrative and governance network.[92] The legislature instead passed a plan in January 2004 to consolidate school districts of less than 350 students.[93][94]The issue would resurface when the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled again on school funding in December 2005.[95]

On April 11, 2003 Huckabee signed a law which mandates annual body mass index (BMI) measurements for all public school children. The results are reported to parents with information about how to combat obesity. The law also sets up advisory committees to promote exercise and good nutrition for schools.[96][97][98][99] On May 8, 2003, Huckabee signed into law increases in cigarette and tobacco taxes as well as a three percent income tax surcharge.[100]

In July 2003, Roby Brock reached a settlement with Huckabee and the Arkansas Educational Television Network. Brock had filed a lawsuit alleging that the defendants had conspired to remove his television program from the air.[101][102][103][104][105]

In his 2005 State of the State address, he talked about a Hispanic student who was unable to receive financial aid because he was an illegal immigrant. Huckabee said, "...when he applied for financial aid, he wasn’t eligible for the various scholarships or grants because of his status, a status that he had no decision in or control over."[106][107][108] Huckabee supported a 2005 bill by Arkansas State Representative Joyce Elliott to make some illegal immigrants eligible for scholarships and in-state college tuition,[109][110][111] while vehemently opposing a bill sponsored by Arkansas State Senator Jim Holt which would deny state benefits to illegal immigrants, calling it "un-Christian."[112]

In opening remarks among Hispanic civil rights leaders at a LULAC convention, Huckabee said the nation will need to address the concerns of the Hispanic community because of its growing influence and population base. "Pretty soon, Southern white guys like me may be in the minority," Huckabee said jokingly as the crowd roared in laughter. He told the LULAC delegates that their presence in the state's capital city was very important because Arkansas has one of the fastest growing Hispanic populations in the nation. "Your gathering is so very significant for our state," Huckabee said.[113]

In April 2005, Huckabee vetoed a bill which would have allowed public drinking of alcohol in entertainment districts.[114][115]

After Hurricane Katrina made landfall in August 2005, an estimated 70,000 evacuees fled to Arkansas and Huckabee ordered state agencies to take care of them. State parks offered discounts, waived pet restrictions, and bumped other reservations in favor of evacuees. Pharmacists were given emergency authority to dispense prescriptions and provide access to dialysis machines. Shelters opened up in nearly every portion of the state, and Huckabee requested that the entire state be declared a disaster area. It was not. Many of these shelters, either closed or set to close, were reopened or kept open to process a "second wave" of Katrina evacuees moved from Texas in the wake of arriving Hurricane Rita. (See also Hurricane Katrina disaster relief).

In 2005, Huckabee, supported by then-Arkansas Attorney General Mike Beebe, opposed efforts by Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson to reduce water pollution.[116][117][118][119][120] Edmondson had sued Arkansas poultry companies alleging that chicken waste fouled Oklahoma rivers explaining, "You can't stand on the Arkansas side of the border, dump toxins into the river and wash your hands of the problem."[121] Huckabee accused Edmondson of "political gamesmanship",[122] later Edmondson, in 2006, called Huckabee "a poultry company apologist."[123] Huckabee went to Oklahoma to campaign against Edmondson in the 2006 election.[124][125][126]

In early 2006, Huckabee — along with fellow governors Rick Perry (R-TX); Jim Doyle (D-WI); and Dave Freudenthal (D-WY) — went on a week-long visit to the Middle East and South Asia as part of a Department of Defense-funded trip to provide the state leaders with an idea of the conditions under which American forces are serving. While visiting Baghdad and Tikrit, Huckabee and the governors received briefings from Gen. George Casey and Amb. Zalmay Khalilzad.[127]

In November 2006, both Huckabee and his wife drew criticism for creating wedding registries in the amount of over $6000 at both the Target and Dillard's web sites, in conjunction with a housewarming party to celebrate a new house they had purchased in Little Rock. The Arkansas Times, which first reported the story, noted that wedding gifts represent one of the exceptions to a $100 cap on gifts to political leaders under Arkansas law.[128] Huckabee said that the registries were intended only for those who were invited to the event, that he was not involved in organizing the event, and that they were classified as wedding registries only because those sites did not have separate categories for housewarming parties.[129]

Throughout his tenure as Governor, welfare enrollment "declined" by nearly half. During his last year in office the state's economy grew 4.4%, beating the national average of 4.2%.[130]

Shortly before announcing his candidacy for the President of the United States, Huckabee ordered that the drives of 83 computers and 4 servers be destroyed during his transition phase in leaving office. According to Claire Bailey, director of the Arkansas Department of Information Systems, the governor’s office chose a combination of writing over the data and destroying the hard drives.[131] Huckabee said that the decision to crush the hard drives was made in order to "protect the privacy of those who had personal information on the drives." Critics, however, recalled that early in Huckabee's term as governor, documents, e-mails and memos stored on hard drives formed the basis of embarrassing stories about Huckabee, including the allegations regarding personal use of the Governor's Mansion funds.[132][133]

In 2005, Time magazine named him one of the five best governors in the U.S., writing "Huckabee has approached his state's troubles with energy and innovation".[41] The Club for Growth accuses Huckabee of being a liberal in disguise, saying Huckabee increased state spending 65.3 percent (1996–2004) and supported five tax increases.[83] The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration states during Huckabee's tenure, taxes were cut ninety times for a decrease of $378 million dollars, while taxes were raised twenty-one times for an increase of $883 million dollars.[134] Arkansas Health Care Association President Jim Cooper stated the private nursing home tax was necessary in order to avert future huge tax increases as a result of years of mismanagement.[135]

On December 26, 2007 the conservative organization Judicial Watch announced that Mike Huckabee was named to its list of Washington’s "Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians" for 2007. They state that Huckabee, as governor, was the subject of "14 ethics complaints and a volley of questions about his integrity, ranging from his management of campaign cash to his use of a nonprofit organization to subsidize his income to his destruction of state computer files on his way out of the governor’s office." Judicial Watch further accused Huckabee of attempting to block the state ethics commission's investigations of the allegations.[136]

The Cato Institute, a libertarian non-profit public policy research foundation, gave Huckabee an "F" for spending and tax policy in 2006.[137] Huckabee has asserted he did not raise spending significantly in areas he could control and in those areas spending rose six-tenths of one percent a year during his entire governance.[84] He also signed the first broad-based tax cut in Arkansas's history.[76] For 2006, he says that his state enjoyed a surplus of nearly $850 million.[138] However, during his tenure, the state’s general obligation debt increased by almost $1 billion.[76]

Campaign for United States President, 2008 election

2008 Presidential Campaign logo
2008 Presidential Campaign logo

Huckabee announced his run for the White House on Meet the Press on January 28, 2007.[139]

At the August 11 Iowa Straw Poll, Huckabee took second place with 2,587 votes, roughly 18 percent.[140] Huckabee spent $57.98 per vote in the Straw Poll, which is the lowest among the top three finishers.[141] Huckabee drew attention with an unconventional ad featuring Chuck Norris.[142] In a later ad Huckabee wished voters a merry Christmas, and said that "what really matters is the celebration of the birth of Christ."[143] Critics accused him of exploiting the issue of religion, which he denied.[144][145] According to the Associated Press, on NBC's Meet The Press on December 31, 2007, Huckabee "stood by" a 1998 comment in which he said, "I hope we answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ." Huckabee told NBC that his comment was "appropriate to be said to a gathering of Southern Baptists."[146]

On January 3, 2008, Huckabee won the Iowa Republican caucuses, receiving 34% of the electorate and 17 delegates, compared to the 25% of Mitt Romney who finished second, receiving 12 delegates, Fred Thompson who came in third place and received three delegates, John McCain who came in fourth place and received three delegates and Ron Paul who came in fifth place and received two delegates.

On January 8, 2008, Huckabee finished in third place in the New Hampshire primary, behind John McCain in first place, and Mitt Romney who finished second, with Huckabee receiving one more delegate for a total of 18 delegates, gained via elections, and 21 total delegates, verses 30 total (24 via elections) for Romney, and 10 for McCain (all via elections).

Mike Huckabee giving his concession speech after the 2008 South Carolina Presidential Primary in Columbia, SC.
Mike Huckabee giving his concession speech after the 2008 South Carolina Presidential Primary in Columbia, SC.

On January 15, 2008, Huckabee finished in third place in the Michigan Republican primary, 2008, behind John McCain in second place, Mitt Romney who finished first and ahead of Ron Paul who finished in fourth place.[147] [148]

On January 19, 2008, Huckabee finished in second place in the South Carolina Republican primary, 2008, behind John McCain who finished first and ahead of Fred Thompson who finished third. [149]

Political positions


Huckabee was made the chair of the Southern Governors' Association in 1999 and served in capacity through 2000. He has chaired the Southern Growth Policies Board, the Southern Region Education Board, the Southern Technology Council, and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, and currently serves as Chair of the Education Commission of the States. He is also a member of the Republican Governors Association and former chairman of the National Governors Association.

Public image and personal life

Huckabee's personality has been described in positive terms as "gentle and warm",[178] "charming",[179] "friendly, teddy-bear",[180] and "engaging, warm, relaxed, and persuasive".[181] Huckabee's personality has been described in negative terms as "petty, thin-skinned, self-righteous,"[182] and "somewhat vindictive".[183] Mixed descriptions include "best of leaders and the worst of thin-skinned pols"[184] and "charming and aloof".[185]

In 2000, the Arkansas Governor's Mansion was being renovated and Huckabee moved into a mobile home. The move became the topic of jokes. "It's not a trailer. It's a triple wide," Huckabee said. Huckabee told Jay Leno the 2,100-square-foot (200 m²), $110,000 trailer donated by the Arkansas Manufactured Housing Association, "was big enough for your chin." Huckabee said the move saved the state substantial money because support and security staff did not have to move to a new rented location.[186]

In 2000, Huckabee commented, "In almost four years as governor, no issue has excited Arkansans as much as the question of where the University of Arkansas should play its home football games. That debate attracted far more letters, e-mails and phone calls to the governor's office than any other issue we've faced. And those who contacted us felt strongly. I had made my feelings known to the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees, and those Arkansans who agreed with me were effusive in their praise. By the same token, some of those who disagreed were downright vicious in their comments."[187]

Controversial public comments

Over the years, Huckabee has made a number of public statements that have drawn criticism,[188][189][190][191][192][193] including comparing his weight loss to the experience of a concentration camp, for which the National Jewish Democratic Council chastised Huckabee;[194] his use of suicide as a joke about fundraising efforts by himself and his opponents in the Republican primaries, for which he was criticized by various suicide awareness groups;[195] and his asking "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?" when discussing Mitt Romney's religion.[196] Mormons viewed this as a consciously veiled attack despite Governor Huckabee's claim that he knew little about Mormonism.[197]

In all three cases, Huckabee and his campaign publicly apologized. Commenting on another incident comparing Arkansas journalists critical of his policies with disgraced reporters Jayson Blair and Janet Cooke, Huckabee said "You'll see it—one of the things that gets me in trouble is my love of metaphors. I use hyperbole in the course of trying to paint a word picture. I pay a dear price for it."[198] Huckabee stirred controversy again in October 2007, likening abortion to a "holocaust".[199] The non-partisan Anti-Defamation League called on Huckabee and all candidates to resist using such "disturbing and offensive language."[200]

In December 2007, Huckabee was criticized for his comments subsequent to the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. He said that Pakistan has more illegal immigrants to the United States than any country but Mexico. However, INS data indicates that Pakistan is nowhere near the top of the list. Moreover, some questioned why he made a connection between Bhutto's death and Huckabee's thoughts on immigration.[201]

In January 2008, in an interview with a religious website Beliefnet Huckabee said:

"I think the radical view is to say that we’re going to change the definition of marriage so that it can mean two men, two women, a man and three women, a man and a child, a man and animal."[202]

Huckabee has been criticized by Talking Points Memo, which interpreted his comment as equating homosexuality and bestiality:

"At some point you'd think Mike Huckabee's views would be seen as so controversial that there's no way he could possibly be a contender for the nomination of one of America's two main political parties ...Separately, it's worth pointing out that Huck's quote above doesn't even use the tried-and-true "slippery slope" argument to couch his view that homosexuality is akin to bestiality. It's a direct equivalence."[203]

On January 17, 2008, in the lead up to the South Carolina primary, Huckabee weighed in on the issue of the Confederate flag, which was removed from the dome of the South Carolina State House but still remains on the grounds:

"I know what would happen if somebody comes to my state in Arkansas and tells us what to do, it doesn't matter what it is, tell us how to run our schools, tell us how to raise our kids, tell us what to do with our flag — you want to come tell us what to do with the flag, we'd tell them what to do with the pole." [204]

Weight loss and health advocacy

Huckabee (second from left) in August 2002 before his weight loss.
Huckabee (second from left) in August 2002 before his weight loss.

When elected governor of Arkansas, Huckabee was significantly overweight. In 2003, physicians diagnosed the governor with adult-onset diabetes and informed him that he would not live more than ten years if he did not lose weight. Prompted by this diagnosis (as well as the subsequent death of former Governor Frank D. White, whose obesity led to a fatal heart attack), Huckabee began dieting and exercising. He subsequently lost over 110 pounds.[205][206] The New York Times called the weight loss so rapid that "it was as if he simply unzipped a fat suit and stepped out."[207] Although Huckabee has stated that he never smoked nor drank,[11] he declared himself a "recovering foodaholic". Huckabee has publicly recounted his previous burdens as an overweight man: the steps of the Arkansas capitol from the entrance of the building up to the Governor's office were so long and steep that he would be out of breath and exhausted by the time he reached the top of the stairs; he secretly feared that he would be interviewed by media at the top of the steps, and that he would be unable to respond appropriately due to his overexertion and breathlessness.[208]

Huckabee has discussed his weight loss and used health care reform as a major focus of his governorship.[209]

At an August 2007 forum on cancer hosted by Lance Armstrong, Huckabee said he supported a federal smoking ban, but has since reversed his position. He now believes the issue should be addressed by state and local governments.[210]

Huckabee has run in several marathons: the 2005 Marine Corps Marathon, the 2005 and 2006 Little Rock Marathon and the 2006 New York City Marathon.[211] The 2005 Little Rock Marathon featured an impromptu challenge between Huckabee and Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. Huckabee completed the marathon in 4:38:31, defeating Vilsack by 50 minutes. He wrote a book chronicling his experience, Quit Digging Your Grave with a Knife and Fork. Huckabee was one of 10 recipients of a 2006 AARP Impact Award acknowledging his work as a "health crusader."

Capitol Offense (rock band)

Capitol Offense performing at the Republican Party of Iowa's Lincoln Day Dinner on April 14, 2007 in Des Moines.
Capitol Offense performing at the Republican Party of Iowa's Lincoln Day Dinner on April 14, 2007 in Des Moines.

Huckabee's band, Capitol Offense,[212] has played for political events and parties, including entertaining at unofficial inaugural balls in Washington, D.C. in January 2001[213] and later again 2005, both organized and promoted by the conservative website Free Republic[214] as well as the 2004 GOP Convention.[215] In recent years, the band has become so polished that they have opened for acts such as Grand Funk Railroad, Percy Sledge, and even Willie Nelson.[citation needed]


Huckabee has authored or co-authored several books:

See also


Huckabee said "I don't want to be the one to decide whether or not we go to Mars." That doesn't sound like someone who is very pro space. Huckabee hasn't meet with the Florida Space Coast Economic Development Council like his counterparts Romney and Giuliani have

go to and use the links to demand that Huckabee take space seriously and pledge the dollar amount that he would increase NASAs funding.
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