Razorback visits Hogback Bridge

Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s in Iowa this weekend to appear with a series of Iowa Republicans who’re on the ballot this November and help them raise money.  After a mid-day event in Winterset, Huckabee took a brief detour.  Huckabee described this detour to me and to Charlotte Eby of the Lee Enterprises newspapers in Iowa as explanation for why he was late for an interview in West Des Moines his staff had set up with us.

Huckabee discovered the Hogback covered bridge wasn’t far from where he was in Madison County. (For those of you who had a spare 20 minutes, you may have read the very slim but best-selling book "The Bridges of Madison County" or perhaps you saw the movie and know the area is known for its covered bridges.  They are sort of like barns built over rivers, allowing wagons of yore to seek santuary inside when folks got caught in a rainstorm.  Or, as was reported to me by relatives who live in Winterset, they can be used as for a romantic rendezvous — NOT by my relatives, I must add.  They happened upon a couple engaged in romantic endeavors on one recent evening.) 

"The Hogback Bridge — of all the places!" Huckabee exclaimed.  "Ah, a Razorback is going to go see the Hogback," I replied.  "Of course!" Huckabee said.  "If I’m going to see a bridge, it’s got to be the Hogback Bridge and that’s why I had to go have my photo made with that."   

"Were you impressed?" Eby asked.

"Yea, I really was. It was kind of neat.  It’s such a cultural icon, to see it, but especially nice to be able to go back there.  I think I owe the driver of the car, however, a car wash…It was this gravel road so it was dust like crazy.  We got out and looked at his car and said ‘Oh no, he’s going to be mad’ so we’ll probably make a stop later on at a car wash and I’ll be ante-ing up for that.  Anyway I do apologize."  (Huckabee now goes on the short list of politicians who apologize for being late.)

The Hogback Bridge was built in 1884 and gets its name from the limestone ridge which forms the west end of the valley in which the bridge sits.  The Arkansas Razorbacks get their name from boars, sometimes calls feral pigs. that have tusks and lots of hair. 

Huckabee, who was a Baptist minister before he entered politics, talked about the political scene and suggested Americans want their politicians to be more like Larry The Cable Guy than someone who has the goal of "spiking the ball in the end zone" because they’ve beaten the other team/other political party.  (Here’s the Radio Iowa story.)

He also shared his sort of "politics 101" advice to politicians:  "It really comes down to electing people who first exercise competance; secondly, who are clear consensus builders and third, who are compassionate — people who have not only a head but a heart," Huckabee said. 

After a question about the relationship between the 2006 and 2008 elections, here’s what Huckabee had to say:  "If the Republicans don’t do well in 2006, they’re going to have to regroup, re-evaluate and frankly reform their own message, our own message but I think no matter what happens in 2006 our party’s due for some introspection.  We’re due for some sort of reminding ourselves why we are Republican and taking those core values and principles back to heart and then back to the American people."

Huckabee said voters are unhappy with "Republican practices and therefore Republican results," not with the Republican Party’s core values.  Huckabee also spent some time talking about what it’s like to govern as a Republican in a state where the majority of state-level office-holders are Democrats.  "I don’t hate Democrats. I don’t go in there with the idea that I’ve got to win at their expense or that I’m necessarily even trying to govern so that they look bad.  That’s not my point.  My assumption is if the voters sent me there and they sent those guys there, it may not be my choice…but they’re the voters’ choice so I’m going to find a way to work with them." 

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.