Michael Huckabee - 2008 Presidential Candidate Quick Overview Michael Huckabee, Tommy Thomson, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Presidential election, new hampshire primary, election coverage, election, vote 2008, voter information, election information Michael Huckabee - 2008 Presidential Election - An overview of candidates, issues, campaigns, primaries, caucases, media coverage and everything else about the 2008 election. Michael Huckabee
Michael Dale (Mike) Huckabee (born August 24, 1955, in Hope, Arkansas) has been the governor of the U.S. state of Arkansas since 1996. He is the third Republican governor of the state since Reconstruction. In November 2005, Time magazine named him one of the five best governors in the U.S. He is frequently mentioned as a possible candidate for president in 2008.
Huckabee was elected Governor of Arkansas Boys State in 1972. He graduated magna cum laude from Ouachita Baptist University, completing his Bachelors degree in 2 1/2 years before attending Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
Prior to his political career, Huckabee was pastor of several Southern Baptist churches in Arkadelphia, Texarkana, and Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He served as President of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention from 1989 to 1991 and as President of a religious-oriented television station.
Early Political Career
In Huckabee's first political race he lost to incumbent U.S. Senator Dale Bumpers in 1992, receiving about 40 percent of the vote. However, that same election saw Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton ascend to the Presidency, thus elevating Lieutenant Governor Jim Guy Tucker to Governor. The 1993 special election was held shortly after the general election; having considerable name recognition from the general election, Huckabee won the special election and became the second Republican since Reconstruction to serve as Arkansas lieutenant governor. As the only Republican in statewide office, he clashed with Democratic leaders over many issues. Nonetheless, Huckabee was re-elected to a full term as lieutenant governor in 1994.
Governor of Arkansas
Ascent to governor
On 15 July 1996 he was sworn in as Governor of Arkansas to fill the vacancy created by Governor Jim Guy Tucker's resignation because of a felony conviction in the Whitewater scandal. This was a dramatic moment for Arkansas as Tucker at first resigned, and then rescinded his resignation as Huckabee was preparing to be sworn in. For a short while the event had the makings of a constitutional crisis not seen in Arkansas since the Brooks-Baxter War in the 19th century. Within a few hours Tucker reinstated his resignation, and Huckabee was sworn in.
Soon after taking office, Huckabee signed legislation creating ARKids First, a health insurance program designed to provide insurance to children of families who could not qualify for Medicaid but could not afford private insurance. He signed legislation to cut taxes, and simplified the automobile registration procedure.
First full term
In November of 1998, Huckabee was elected to a full four-year term, receiving the highest percentage of votes for a Republican seeking statewide office in Arkansas history.
At the beginning of his first full term, Huckabee led a public relations campaign for a bond program to pay for road reconstruction (Arkansas had, at that time, the lowest-rated highway system among the 50 states). Arkansas voters had traditionally shied away from public debt, having experienced a major bond scandal that affected the state's finances for the latter half of the 19th century. This time, however, the voters approved Huckabee's program.
Huckabee also led a campaign to dedicate via constitutional amendment 1/8 of one cent of the state sales tax to improvement of the state's park system and natural resources, which had fallen into serious disrepair (and was an embarrassment for a state billing itself as "The Natural State"). As part of the campaign Huckabee (an avid outdoorsman) traveled the entire length of the Arkansas River (the part within Arkansas) by boat.
In 2000, Huckabee also led a campaign to funnel 100 percent of the state's tobacco settlement revenues into the state's health care system, rather than into the general fund (as other states had done, where it could be used for non-health related purposes).
Second full term
In November of 2002 he was reelected to another four-year term (due to term limits, this will be his final term as governor). By the end of his term Huckabee will have the third-longest tenure of any Arkansas Governor (only Democrats Orval Faubus, who served 6 consecutive 2-year terms (1955-1967), and Bill Clinton, who served 11 years, 11 months (1979-1981; 1983-1992), had longer tenures).
He was made the chair of the Southern Governors' Association in 1999 and served in that 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.
On November 21, 2002, the Arkansas State Supreme Court declared that the state's school funding procedure was unconstitutional and ordered the state to produce a fair system. Huckabee proposed a controversial plan that would consolidate many of the state's smaller school districts. School consolidation is very unpopular in rural Arkansas and may be the "third rail" of Arkansas politics. Huckabee's plan was not accepted by the legislature, and the court order has not yet been satisfied.
After Hurricane Katrina made landfall and numerous evacuees fled to Arkansas (the total number was estimated at around 70,000), Huckabee ordered state agencies to "take care of those human needs first and worry about the paperwork later". State parks offered deep 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. Many of these shelters, either closed or set to close, were reopened or kept open to process a "second wave" of Katrina evacuees being moved from Texas in the wake of arriving Hurricane Rita. (See also Hurricane Katrina disaster relief).
In early 2006, Huckabee - along with fellow governors Rick Perry (R-TX); Jim Doyle (D-WI); and Dave Freudenthal (D-WY) - travelled to the Middle East and South Asia as part of Department of Defense-sponsored 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.
Health advocacy and personal weight loss
When elected governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee was significantly overweight. During 2003, physicians diagnosed the governor with adult-onset diabetes and informed him that he would not live more than 10 years if he did not lose weight. This diagnosis (as well as the subsequent death of former Governor Frank D. White, whose obesity led to a fatal heart attack) shocked the governor into reflecting on his own mortality, and his ability to serve as the governor of Arkansas. Huckabee subsequently lost over 110 pounds through a disciplined diet and exercise, according to a New York Times article at a pace so rapid that "it was as if he simply unzipped a fat suit and stepped out." The governor now wakes up at approximately 5 a.m. for a five-mile jog, and he and his wife routinely pack his own healthy meals for lunch and dinner in a portable cooler--even when attending political, ceremonial, or fund-raising events.
He has publicly recounted his previous burdens as an overweight man: the steps of the Arkansas capitol building from the entrance of the building up to the Governor's office were so long and steep that Huckabee would be out of breath and exhausted by the time he reached the top of the stairs; Huckabee 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.
Huckabee has trumpeted his weight loss and health care reform a major component of his latter tenure as governor, promoting both his own life story as well as his decision to dedicate 100 percent of tobacco settlement proceeds to health-related issues.
Huckabee ran in the 2006 New York City Marathon.
Political opponents have criticized his former career as a Baptist minister and lack of political experience. His public endorsement of "covenant marriage" and appointment of a number of Baptist friends to positions in his administration and state government have concerned proponents of separation of church and state. Further concerns are a result of the Governor's association with the 'Reclaim America for Christ Conferences'. The stated mission of the group is to 'come together to reclaim this land for Christ.'
For a time, Huckabee lived in a "triple-wide" mobile home on the grounds of the Governor's Mansion while it underwent renovation. The home was donated by the state manufactured home association; Huckabee agreed to live in it since the industry is a key part of Arkansas' economy both in terms of sales and employment. However, some citizens criticized the move, saying that it played into common stereotypes of rural Arkansas. Both Huckabee and Arkansas were the target of numerous jokes on national television programs.
During the 2002 elections his wife, Janet Huckabee, ran unsuccessfully for the position of secretary of state, and both received criticism for the dual election effort, including charges of nepotism.
Huckabee has also been repeatedly criticized for his refusal to account for many of his financial holdings, as well as for his much-publicized purchase of a private jet that has been used for what many term personal travel. Allegations of cronyism and acceptance of favors have also plagued the governor, whom some refer to as the "Huckster."
Huckabee has also received criticism for his apparent interest in positioning himself for national office, which has caused him to be out of the state more often than normal. Gov. Mike Huckabee has used an airplane, a Beechcraft "King Air" turboprop, owned by the Arkansas State Police to travel to and from destinations outside of the state more than 30 times during 2005, according to flight logs reviewed by the Arkansas Times.
Furthermore, Huckabee has been criticized for his support for the teaching of creationism in the science classes of Arkansas public schools. He was quoted in July 2004 on "Arkansans Ask," his regular show on the Arkansas Educational Television Network: "I think that [students] also should be given exposure to the theories not only of evolution but to the basis of those who believe in creationism". Huckabee also stated "I do not necessarily buy into the traditional Darwinian theory, personally".
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 $525,000 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. Huckabee claimed 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.
The Dumond Case
The most notable criticism involving Huckabee involved the use of his authority as governor to pardon or commute the sentences of convicts. The most well-known of the pardons issued involved Wayne Dumond, who was convicted for the rape of Ashley Stevens, a Forrest City high school student. He was released from prison allegedly by pressure from Huckabee. After being released, he sexually assaulted and murdered a Missouri woman.
Some conservative commentators began to question Clinton's denial of clemency for Dumond in light of the fact that Dumond's victim was a distant relative of Clinton, "even though Clinton had recused himself in 1990 from any involvement in the case because of his distant relationship with Stevens."
Shortly after Huckabee became Governor in 1996, the Arkansas parole board denied parole for Dumond. A month later, Huckabee met with Dumond's wife and announced his intention that Dumond be set free. Dumond's wife noted that "he [Huckabee] has always been disturbed about the way the Clinton people never wanted my husband free". A month later, in an unprecedented act, Huckabee met privately with the parole board to talk about the Dumond case among other things.
In a letter to Dumond, Huckabee made clear that "my desire is that you be released from prison." Huckabee's only official action in the Dumond case was when he denied a clemency request from Dumond. Huckabee signed his decision just moments after the state parole board granted DuMond a parole on condition that another state take him.On that same day, Dumond was granted parole by the parole board. Huckabee denies influencing the parole board in any way, but acknowledges some responsibility for signing Dumond's parole. Huckabee said in a written statement, "What happened in Missouri was horrible. No amount of second guessing, blaming or finger pointing helps the family of the victim."
As a result of the Dumond case, Huckabee came under fire for possibly issuing too many commutations.
Huckabee has authored or co-authored four books, with a fifth due in October 2006:
Ouachita Baptist University recently renamed its School of Education the Michael D. Huckabee School of Education. In addition, his hometown of Hope named a recently-completed lake inside its Fair Park after Huckabee and his wife.
Huckabee was 1 of 10 recipients of a 2006 American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Impact Award acknowledging his work as a "Health Crusader".
Huckabee has run the 2005 Marine Corps Marathon, the 2005 and 2006 Little Rock Marathon, and the 2006 New York City Marathon. The 2005 Little Rock Marathon had a contest between Huckabee and Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack (D). Huckabee completed the marathon in 4:38:31, defeating Vilsack by 50 minutes (interestingly, Huckabee was assigned runner number "2008").
Huckabee has been mentioned as a possible candidate for President in 2008 and, alternatively, as a possible challenger to incumbent Democratic senator Mark Pryor in that same year. He has reportedly told close friends that he will seek the Republican Presidential nomination in 2008. He has made several trips to important primary states, including a four-day trip to New Hampshire in August, 2006.
Regarding a possible Presidential candidacy, several similarities have already been drawn between Huckabee and former President Clinton:
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