Mike Huckabee: Heading to Iowa while ducking questions about 2012

Jake Turcotte

By Dave Cook

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is ducking questions about whether he will run again for president – but is heading to Iowa Thursday on a book tour.

During a Washington breakfast with reporters on Wednesday, Gov. Huckabee was coy about whether he would be a candidate in four years.  “I don’t know whether or not I have a political future or not,” he said.   Given life’s uncertainties, a conversation on the topic is “completely meaningless,” he said.

Huckabee’s trip to Des Moines and Cedar Rapids is part of a 56-city tour to sell his new book “Do the Right Thing.”   The book looks back at his 2008 bid for the presidency in which Huckabee won the leadoff caucuses in Iowa and seven other states.

His Iowa victory was spurred by support from the state’s influential religious conservatives.  He dismissed suggestions his trip to Iowa would let him shore up support with social conservatives who might now find Sarah Palin more appealing as a presidential candidate in 2012.  “People who say that are just looking for a story to write,” Huckabee told the Associated Press.

While careful in his comments about 2012, Huckabee was blunt about a variety of other topics during breakfast with reporters at the National Republican Club of Capitol Hill.

At the gathering Huckabee admitted to being envious about Palin’s rapid rise to prominence as a result of being picked as Senator John McCain’s running mate.  It “is not resentment,” he said.

Much of the early reaction to his book has focused on comments about his rivals in the 2008 campaign, especially former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.  He wrote that Romney’s record was “anything but conservative until he changed the light bulbs in his chandelier in time to run for president.”

“This book is not a Mitt Romney book,” Huckabee said.  “Mitt may be very disappointed.”   A Romney spokesman told the AP that Huckabee’s comments were “petty stuff.”

In the 2008 general election, Huckabee said that McCain was “up against an extraordinary headwind.”   But when asked if the race were winnable, Huckabee responded that it “wasn’t an impossible task” but that McCain would have needed to “better distinguish” himself from Senator Obama.

The GOP needs to do a better job appealing to what Huckabee called “faith voters” which his book describes as “ the people of America who are driven by their personal faith more than by a partisan political alignment.”   He said that in the GOP those voters are “welcome two days of the year” -- primary and election days.  “There is a point of frustration and exasperation” with that kind of treatment, he said.

Huckabee also argued that the Republican Party needed to attract voters looking to improve their economic standing.  He referred to this group as people who “don’t know the price of arugula but know the price of a sack of potatoes.”   Unless the GOP reaches out, it “will become a party of angry old white men,” he said.

The former governor was a warm host, calling members of the press by name and bantering with them about stories they had written.  But he argued that candidate Obama had received better treatment from the press than his Republican counterparts.  “There was this pass given to Obama that wasn’t given to others,” he said.

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