Mike Huckabee recently visited OBU and made some interesting statements having had a month to reflect on his Presidential bid.
ARKADELPHIA, Ark.—Describing some aspects of his recent presidential campaign as “just incredible fun,” former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee recently paid a brief visit to his alma mater—Ouachita Baptist University.
Huckabee, who served 10 years as Arkansas’ governor, put together a surprisingly strong run for the Republican presidential nomination, going from a dark horse candidate to what he described as a “Final Four” finish in this year’s presidential race. Earning victories in eight primaries and caucuses, Huckabee withdrew from the race in early March after John McCain gained enough delegates to win the Republican nomination.
A 1975 graduate of Ouachita, Huckabee also has served as a Southern Baptist pastor, president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention and chairman of the National Governors’ Association.
Acknowledging that “the whole experience was, in many ways, surreal,” Huckabee said the pace of a national presidential bid “is happening so fast that you don’t have time to stop and absorb it or even take it in.”
“At many times, I had to stop and remind myself that I was actually running for President of the United States,” he added. “The schedule was grueling and brutal. … It was early morning to late night and constantly being pushed and pulled—almost treated like a property as opposed to a person.”
Despite the hectic schedule under the glare of the national media spotlight, Huckabee emphasized that “there were a lot of special times” on the campaign trail, including guest appearances on Saturday Night Live, the Colbert Report, the Late Show with David Letterman and the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
“Doing Saturday Night Live was a real kick,” he noted. “Another fun time was the Leno show. … I got to see there were some great people you get a chance to know in a casual way. All that was a lot of fun and it kind of made up for the days that were anything but fun.”
Reflecting on the political impact of his presidential run, Huckabee said one result was the clear reminder that “ordinary people really can affect the process.”
“For virtually a dime to the dollar of the other candidates, we took this campaign to the Final Four and most folks didn’t think that could happen. I think it’s a transformational kind of experience in politics,” Huckabee declared. “It was very important as a hallmark of the campaign–and hopefully future campaigns–that people will pay attention to the candidates and their message and not just their bank accounts.”
Concerning his decision to seek the presidency, Huckabee said, “I deeply felt there was a need for someone, frankly, to be president who understood the real world where most Americans live. I think there is a disconnect with most people who have been in Washington for a good while.”
As an example, he cited a Republican debate on the economy in which other candidates “were all singing the Republican song of a great economy.” By contrast, he said he emphasized that “for people in the real world, the economy is not doing that well.”
Taking a page from his campaign playbook, Huckabee detailed such economic concerns as rising fuel prices, education costs and “health care costs rising at twice the rate of which pay was rising. That meant people were working harder this year than they were last year and not getting ahead; in fact slipping behind.”
A key reason for many voters’ concern over the economy is that “when the economy is prosperous, it has a trickle-down effect, but when the economy begins to go into a recession, it’s a trickle-up effect,” he explained. “It hits the people at the bottom first and the hardest because they have the least margin with which to deal.”
Amid his increased influence in conservative Republican circles, Huckabee said one of his goals is to “continue to make the case that there can’t be a separation between economic conservatism and social conservatism.”
“The most basic form of government is self-government,” he added. “Civil government is the result of the breakdown in self-government, family and community. … The degree to which those structures break down, you’re going to have more civil government whether you want it or not.”
Highlighting the need for individuals, businesses and communities to take greater responsibility for their actions if they want to reduce government involvement, he said, “I think that’s missing out there in the discussion.”
Giving a nod to Ouachita’s influence on both his life and political career, Huckabee noted, “I’ve always said that the education I received here gave me a platform that I never had to be ashamed of or run from. I have held my own with people who had Harvard law degrees or MBAs from Harvard or Yale. I don’t feel like I ever had to say, ‘Gee, I don’t belong up here.’ Academically, Ouachita was as good of an education as I could have had.”
Ouachita’s Michael D. Huckabee School of Education was named in Huckabee’s honor in 2005 in recognition of his statewide education reform initiatives as governor.
Huckabee, a former Ouachita trustee, said he believes that “the value of a liberal arts education is more pertinent today than it ever has been.“
“I can’t imagine a student not seeing the value of a liberal arts education today,” he added. “The broader the background one has, I think the better prepared they are to get out there and make it in the real world.”
Huckabee said another benefit of his education at Ouachita “was that it helped me come to deep convictions about principles that I believed in and not just what they were but why—and the ‘why’ is more important than the ‘what.’“
“A lot of people know what they believe; they don’t know why,” he pointed out. “They’ve never followed their beliefs to their logical conclusion.”
“The best value that I had from Ouachita was an analytical education, an education that taught me to think critically and to question and to put my own convictions to the test,” he affirmed. “It was truly a challenging education and I value that a lot.”
Looking to the future, Huckabee acknowledged, “I haven’t really settled on ‘Gosh, here’s what I want to do when I grow up.’ I think I will continue to be involved politically and also from a policy standpoint, helping people to get elected and keeping my own options open for the future.”
“I want to affect the discussion of public policy as it relates to the bedrock issue of why individual morality and the structure of the family really does have an impact on the direction of civil government,” he added. “And the respect for human life is fundamental and foundational to our culture.”
Emphasizing that respect for life is not limited to the abortion issue, he said, “That’s where people get messed up. It deals at the heart of whether or not we are, as our forefathers said, all equal. If there’s intrinsic worth and value in each person, then one person is not more valuable than another or less valuable than another.”
What about another run for the presidency in four or eight years? “I won’t rule it out,” Huckabee responded. “I mean I’m not making an announcement to say, ‘Yeah, I’m going to.’ The circumstances and everything, who knows what they’re going to be? But it’s not like I’m saying, ‘Boy, I’ll never do that again.’ I won’t rule that out.”
Asked about the possibility of helping her husband conduct a future campaign for the Republican nomination, Huckabee’s wife, Janet, who also attended Ouachita, answered simply, “I’m with him. Whatever he does, I’m there.”
“It was a very, very rewarding experience,” she said of the campaign. “I wouldn’t trade any of it.”
Glancing at the former presidential candidate, she added, “I was very proud of what Mike did. He came from virtually nobody knowing who he was; as we say, he came from being an asterisk to second man standing.”
“I’ve always known that if people got to know him, they’d love him,” she concluded. “We just have to get a few more people to know him next time.”
by Trennis Henderson, OBU Vice President for Communications
web published on 4/2/2008 9:36:17 AM