Huckabee signs books in WDM

“The reason I’m here is that it makes sense for me, on a book tour, to come to Iowa. I do not have any political plans for the moment.  I really don’t. Everyone assumes I do, but if you looked at my schedule you’d know I don’t have time right now to sit around and try to plot some political comeback.” — Mike Huckabee, on November 8, 2009, in West Des Moines, IA.

Mike Huckabee signing his new book

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, winner of the 2008 Iowa Caucuses, was back in Iowa today, making stops at book stores in Davenport, Cedar Rapids and Des Moines.  Huckabee’s on a book tour, promoting the sale of his newest publication:  “A Simple Christmas.”

Chris Ortale drove from Coralville to West Des Moines Sunday, stood in line for about 45 minutes and had Huckabee sign her book at about eight o’clock.  She supported Huckabee in the Caucuses and “absolutely” wants him to run for president in 2012.   “His honesty, his integrity, his character, his values pretty much line up with mine,” she says.

Michael and Shannon Batchelder of Omaha, Nebraska, describe themselves as “strong supporters” of Huckabee and they were at the booksigning event in West Des Moines. “We strongly believe that he should make another run for president in 2012,” Michael Batchelder said.  The Batchelders were dressed in red, white and blue and were carrying a poster that said (in red & blue lettering on a white background): “A  Simple Christmas Wish; Huckabee 2012; Do the Right Thing; Please Take Us from Hope to Higher Ground; Because We Know Character Makes a Difference.”

(If you know the titles of Huckabee’s books, you may recognize the titles in the Batchelder’s handmade poster.)

Bill Brunia of Urbandale, a Des Moines suburb, waited in line for about 40 minutes to get Huckabee’s signature on the new book.  “He’s just a great guy.  It’s too bad that he didn’t get elected,” said Bill Brunia.  “If he would have ran, I think he would have been in now. We wouldn’t have this mess we’re in right now.”

Huckabee spoke with a small gaggle of reporters once all the folks in line had their books signed.  Huckabee kept signing unsold copies of the book as he chatted with the media, so if you listen to the interview, you’ll hear the sound of a blue Sharpie sweeping across the title page of book after book after book.

As you may know, Huckabee hosts a radio program, a weekend TV show on FOX and his fourth book has just been released (hence the book tour).  After a TV reporter had asked a few questions, I started a preamble to a question with a list.  “Broadcasting, publishing,” I started and Huckabee chimed in.

“I’m trying to take over all forms of media,” Huckabee joked. “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.  That’s my thought anyway.”

“Do you have a CD in ya?” I asked, having seen Huckabee in action with his band and hearing him talk about the power of music in a May 2007 speech before the Iowa Bandmasters.

The answer is yes.  According to Huckabee, he’s working with the “house band” at FOX and some “huge” Nashville stars are part of the project.

“One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to help buy musical instruments for kids.  I’ve teamed up with the ‘wanna play fund,'” Huckabee said.  “…It’s one of the things that I am very passionate about.”

Huckabee, as you may recall, got a guitar when he was a child.  His parents put it on layaway at Sears.

“It took my parents a year to pay for it. I didn’t know that at the time.  You know, you don’t look at your parent’s tax returns when you’re 11, so I had no idea and I just was adamant that that’s what I wanted and it was only later that I realized, you know, what a big sacrifice that was and so the chapter in the book called, ‘Sacrifice’ is just a memory of the impact of that gift and their sacrifice and how that was really life changing for me,” Huckabee said this evening.  Huckabee often describes himself as a “very bashful” kid.  “The guitar was the instrument that not only helped me to make music but more importantly helped me to get over my shyness, be able to get in front of people and obviously I’ve overcome it, at least to a degree.”

The “whole rig” — the guitar and its amp — is now on display in the Old Statehouse Museum in Little Rock according to Huckabee.

I told him many of the people I chatted with in line hope he is a 2012 presidential candidate.  “Can you put the publishing world and the music world and the radio world and the TV world aside and do that?” I asked.

“That’s a lot of worlds,” Huckabee said, with a laugh. “Honestly and I know everyone assumes that I’m here because there’s an ulterior motive.  I mean, truthfully, we’ve got a lot of friends in Iowa from the almost two years that I spent here.  I’ve probably been to more counties in Iowa than most Iowans have.  I’ve been to all 99 and I mean, I have talked to people who’ve lived in Iowa all their lives and haven’t been to that many parts of it. The first chapter in the last book that just came out in paperback now, the Do The Right Thing, the first chapter is ‘I Love Iowa’ — I mean this clearly is a place that I have had got some strong personal connections.

“I’m saying all that to say that the reason I’m here is that it makes sense for me, on a book tour, to come to Iowa. I do not have any political plans for the moment.  I really don’t. Everyone assumes I do, but if you looked at my schedule you’d know I don’t have time right now to sit around and try to plot some political comeback.  I will be back in Iowa, I’m hoping, quite a bit next year to help Bob Vander Plaats in his campaign for governor.”

At this point, several people who were hanging around the book signing table broke out into applause.  Vander Plaats was among them and smiled broadly as Huckabee called Vander Plaats — the chairman of Huckabee’s 2008 campaign — a “close and dear” personal friend.

“I think he would be a great governor, so when you see me coming back, don’t necessarily assume it’s (because) I’m coming back for me,” Huckabee added.

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About O.Kay Henderson

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