Huckabee in Iowa to sell books

Huckabee BusFormer Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has a new book out — Do the Right Thing:  Inside the Movement That’s Bringing Common Sense Back to America. He held a book signing in Cedar Rapids earlier today; another is scheduled this evening in a Des Moines suburb.  On the bus drive from Cedar Rapids to Des Moines, Huckabee called into the Radio Iowa newsroom.  Here’s a partial transcript of our conversation:

Henderson: “Last night, I saw Dolly Parton in concert.”

Huckabee: “Get out of here.  Where did you see her?”

Henderson: “In Des Moines.”

Huckabee: “Oh man, I would have loved to see her.”

Henderson: “It was the last stop on her two-and-a-half-year tour. She’s a fabulous songwriter.  I wonder what sort of lyrics you might write to get Republicans back on a winning track and I’m assuming your tune would no doubt be more like Copeland than Wagner.”

Huckabee: “Hmm. You know, it probably would be, but I would have loved to see Dolly Parton.  I think she’s an amazing talent and a phenomenal entertainer, so I’m just disappointed I wasn’t here a night earlier.”

Henderson: “The opening ode in your new book declares your love of Iowa, but later you suggest campaigning here in Iowa is “grueling” — how do you mentally prepare for Huckabee for President, the sequel?  In the last part of the book you mentioned that “Smiley Face” ring.  Just where is that today?”

Huckabee: (Laughter) “Well, first of all, I’m not anticipating planning or even trying to think about any future campaign. I’m wanting to make sure I get the message of this book out and work on my show with FOX and then starting in January I’ll be doing two, five-minute-a day commentaries for the ABC Radio Network so I have plenty to keep me busy.  The part about it being grueling, it would be grueling no matter where you were. It was grueling in South Carolina.  It was grueling in New Hampshire. It’s just that the pace of the campaign is long, long days, very short nights and just unimaginable, you know — trying to get from one place to the next and meet as many people as you can. Iowa is, obviously, throughout the book and it starts there.  There are so many references to Iowa events and Iowa people because so much of our campaign,  I mean, we spent more time here than we spent here in our own homes in the almost two years up to the caucus.”

Henderson: “How do you hope this book to shape the debate among Republicans and what specifically do you point to in the book as maybe a rallying point, a Road to Damascus experience from which your party can learn some lessons?”

Huckabee: “There’s some key chapters one of which is ‘The Best Government of All’ which that says if Republicans really want to lower taxes and limit government, the best way to do it is to emphasize self-government. That’s the best government.  It’s not about seeing what Washington’s going to do.  It’s seeing what I’m going to do so that I don’t have to be governed, regulated, ruled and restricted — and that happens when people live according to personal character, when they live according to a standard of right and wrong, and when they don’t then government inevitably has to get involved whether it’s at the regulatory level or the actual police and judiciary level, so that’s one thing.

“Another would be that I spend a great deal of time in the book talking about that we’ve got to as a party realize that we win when we stand for some things: when we are clearly pro-life/pro-family, for lower taxes, we empower parents…(Huckabee’s cell phone signal fades out)…and when we stick by those things and actually govern that way we win elections, but it’s when we don’t govern that way that our message loses any authenticity and we lose.”

I also asked about Chip Saltsman, Huckabee ’08 campaign manager, who is among the candidates to become chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Huckabee: “He’d be a great fit for the RNC and there’s a couple of reasons why.  Number one:  he understands that one of the needs we have at the RNC is to have a grassroots organization where the national party actually exists to serve the growth and the development of the local parties at the state and even precinct level.  He gets that.  He understands it and that’s what he did in our campaign.

“Another major factor is that Chip is one of the few people I know in our party that really has a grasp of the digital platforms that many voters are getting their information on — the Internet, the whole idea of everything from Twitter to Digg. Our campaign was almost completely run as an Internet operation — not only in our contributions, but in the community that we built using the Internet and that’s why a lot of people never understood how in the world were we getting as much traction and getting as far as we did with a dime-to-the-dollar of some of these other candidates. It’s because we were using new forms of media in order to make that happen and he not only understands it, but I know would implement that as chairman of the RNC.”

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About O.Kay Henderson

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