Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Governor Huckabee Does 10 & 1/2

Even we can be serious.


GreenMountainPolitics1's 10 & 1/2 questions with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is the first of many interviews we will conduct with New Hampshire Primary candidates, campaign staff and Granite State opinion leaders.

Answers to our questions are unedited and run in their entirety.

We encourage our readers to email us questions that they would like us to ask candidates.

We would like to thank Governor Huckabee for volunteering to be our for first victim and for taking the time to answer our questions.

1. Governor Huckabee, you are the official Dark Horse GOP Candidate of ’08 (at least according to GreenMountainPolitics1) with stronger grassroots support in New Hampshire than what your poll numbers currently suggest. What do your supporters know about your candidacy that you hope the rest of us will find out?

My supporters have focused on my overall record of accomplishment while Governor of Arkansas. They are proud of my leadership on critical issues facing our country such as improving student achievement, facing down our health crisis and managing government for the long haul.

I love “retail” politics. I love small towns and meeting new people and visiting with voters in their homes. That’s how I campaigned in Arkansas in my two races for the Governor’s Mansion. Many candidates just want to sit in a TV studio and reach people by media. That’s part of the game, but I sure prefer being live in the living room, not live on the TV in your living room!
2. Given the celebrity status of certain candidates these days, how important is New Hampshire’s retail politics approach of “getting to know candidates” and do you support New Hampshire in the battle to keep their primary first in the nation?
Primary Season without the first one being in New Hampshire is like the Fourth of July without the Stars and Stripes. I support New Hampshire’s effort to lead the primaries.
3. You describe yourself as a “paradoxical Republican” what does that mean?
I used this expression because I have often taken stands that many people do not frequently associate with Republicans. For example, I believe passionately that music and the arts play a critical role in our school curriculum. Music and the arts help kids develop critical thinking skills that lead to progress in other core subjects such as math. Also, I consider myself an ardent Conservationist. I believe that we need to leave the natural areas and heritage sites in our wonderful country to our kids and grandkids in better condition than the way we found them. This conservation conviction comes both from my boyhood experience as a Boy Scout and my faith which reminds me that “the earth is the Lord’s” and that we are not its owners; merely its caretakers.
4. What role does faith play in your personal and professional life?
I tell people that my faith is my life. It defines me. I see no separation between my faith from my personal and professional lives. Real faith should make us humble, mindful not so much of the faults of others but of our faults. It should not make us more judgmental, but rather less judgmental, as we see others living a life with the same frailty we acknowledge within ourselves. Hopefully, faith gives us strength in the face of injustice to our fellow man. I believe that our Nation was birthed in a spirit of faith – not a prescriptive one dictating how we were to believe or even that we were to believe, but one acknowledging there is indeed a providence that pervades our world.
5. You received a lot of quiet praise for the way you handled the Katrina disaster and the refugees. What did you know that other affected Governors/governments did not? What did you learn?
In the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, government at all levels failed the American people. It obvious who watched the disaster of New Orleans unfold that on day one we could get a television camera to the victims but we seemed incapable of a getting lifeboat or even a bottle of water to them. I was ashamed of what appeared to be an uncontrollable natural disaster met with an incomparable incompetence to respond to it.

I immediately called an emergency cabinet meeting of the heads of all the major state agencies. We set up a 24 hour command center in the Governor’s Conference Room outside my office in the State capitol. I knew from my years of church and faith-based work, that there were hundreds of beds in church, civic and boy/girl scout camps all over the state. These would afford comfort and privacy and a sense of place – far better than a sterile hotel room. I was governed by the Golden Rule…”Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and I challenged our volunteer teams and the camp leaders: “If this were your grandmother, how would you want her treated?” I learned that even if government failed, the American people did not. While government fretted over paperwork, ordinary citizens became extraordinary heroes simply by giving help and hope to the homeless.
6. You have a celebrated story of beating gluttony. What regimen would you recommend to the other candidates so that they can avoid packing on the “Campaign 15” (pounds)?
My first advice would be for them to read my book, “Quit Digging your Grave with a Knife and Fork.” Seriously, chronic disease is costing our Nation a fortune in lost work time and health expenses. All of us need to lead by example. My advice would be to maintain your exercise routine; avoid fried food and sugar; and try to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. In other words, you better pack a lunch because no fundraising lunch, dinner speech or airport fast food spot is going to make the high bar for healthy eating!
7. What do you think Republicans should make of Mitt Romney’s shifting stands on social and tax issues? Should voters be able to trust a candidate whose positions shift? How important is consistency?
I will let the voters review the records and make their choice.
8. You are from Arkansas, what is your most vivid memory of Hillary Clinton’s life there?
Senator Clinton is a very strong candidate and Republicans underestimate her at their own peril.
9. You are conducting this interview by email with a “Blogger” (although we prefer Citizen Pundit). What role will New Media play in your campaign? What are the potential benefits that you see? What are the potential pitfalls?
Blogging is a key force in national communication. One can see it in product reviews, sports, stock picks and of course, national politics. To me it is exciting as it is a national conversation. Bloggers have to argue their case and let the world respond. In many ways, while the method of transmission is new – the Internet – blogging itself is an old art form in anew package. The 18th century pamphlet writers during and after our American Revolution were fundamental to the political discourse of the day. The benefits include the political discourse across many time zones and providing a way to communicate a message quickly. The pitfalls are the same as in the days of the pamphleteers: responding to some scurrilous, false rumor trumped up by an opponent. But, this sort of school yard behavior has been with us in form or another for many years and will continue in the future.
10. The “Gang of 500” has trouble understanding how you will be able to compete in the Money Primary. How will you compete and how much money do you expect to raise this quarter?
Well, let’s see, if the Gang of 500 each wrote me a check for $2300, that would be good start! I have my team coming together and we are making calls. Thus far, I am pleased with response, but we have a lot of work to do. I believe that if the American people like my message of hope and my ideas that the money will flow over the course of the year.
10.5. In the spirit of bi-partisanship, say something nice about one of your opponents.
That is easy: Senator John McCain is a true American hero.