Huckabee Wants You To Know How Far Back He Goes With The Clintons – Daily Caller

Photo of Alex Pappas


“};jQuery(document).ready(function(){dc_word_up_main();});

WASHINGTON — Mike Huckabee wants you to know how far back he goes with the Clintons.

“Coming up through the ranks of Arkansas politics was a terrific preparation,” the former Republican governor told a small group of reporters over coffee at a Washington hotel on Friday morning. “Not only for a campaign, but also for the idea of governing.”

“In part because every race I ever ran was essentially against the Clinton political machine,” said Huckabee, who was governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007. “The Clinton political machine dominated Arkansas politics.”

Huckabee frequently tells stories about his time in Arkansas for two reasons: First, so people know he has a history of defeating the Clinton political network. Secondly, so they know he is capable of working with Democrats to get stuff done.

“When I got elected lieutenant governor,” Huckabee reminded reporters at the J.W. Marriott, “I was only the 4th Republican in 150 years to be elected to a state office.”

There’s a story Huckabee likes to tell that shows how difficult it was to be a Republican officeholder in Arkansas in the nineties.

“They were so excited to have a Republican in Arkansas that when I got to the state capitol, my door was nailed shut from the inside,” Huckabee said of becoming lieutenant governor in 1993. “I know a lot of people think that’s an exaggerated or apocryphal story, and in fact they did at the time.”

But Huckabee said the story really is true.

“There were physical nails in the door,” Huckabee said. “The door had been nailed shut by the secretary of state and the Democratic machine. They basically said, ‘ok, you’ve been elected. Good luck having it work for you.’ The door remained shut for 59 days — 59 days. And finally the nails came out, but all the furniture had been removed from the office.”

Huckabee said Democrats did everything they could to make his job as difficult as possible. “I couldn’t get letterhead printed because the state agency that was supposed to do that just kept losing the order. And that was sort of my brutal welcome to the way things worked in the Arkansas political system. It was a brutal environment.”

Looking back on that time now, Huckabee says: “In a way that turned out to be a good thing for me because the vicious way I was treated in those early days by that political machine resulted in a real turn.”

And things happened fast.

Huckabee was elected to the lieutenant governor’s seat in 1993, after the prior occupant, Jim Guy Tucker, became governor when Bill Clinton was elected president. In 1996, when Tucker was convicted of Whitewater-related felonies, Huckabee becomes governor.

Once governor, Huckabee said he inherited “the most lopsided legislature in all the country.”

“The House was 89 Democrats to 11 Republicans,” he recalls. “The Senate was 31 Democrats, 4 Republicans. And about half of those Republicans were suspect. We weren’t real sure about them. Because they had been there long enough that had kind of become part of the good ole boy system as well.”

“I’ve often said, what that did, it taught me how to govern,” Huckabee said. “It gave me the challenge of learning how to govern in an otherwise very hostile atmosphere. And never getting less, in 10 and a half years, of 90, 90-plus percent of my legislative package passed through the legislature.”

Huckabee then quipped: “I’ve often said the great political philosopher of all time is probably Mick Jagger, whose song, ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want,’ should be played regularly in the House and Senate in Washington. To remind people that governing is not ‘I win all the time, you lose all the time.’ And it never can work like that.”

Now, Huckabee says he’s ready to face the Clintons again.

“A lot of things have gone very well in preparing for that inevitable, ultimate decision,” Huckabee said of running for the White House again.

Referencing his first run for president in 2008, he said: “I think things will be different than they were for me last time. Some good, some not. I think there will be a lot more financial support than we had back in 2008. Much more of a known quantity than I was eight years ago when I was entering into the race as a total unknown. The downside is there is going to be a big field of very qualified, capable people who will be running.”

And he has plenty to say about Hillary Clinton, who entered the race this week.

“I’d say that her roll-out did not go stellar,” Huckabee volunteered.

“It was more about the contrived crowds that ended up showing up for the events,” he elaborated. “And I’ve been to Iowa a lot. And it was never that difficult to find real Iowans. I found that they’re everywhere. Go to a Pizza Ranch at noon, and you’ll find a few of them.”

Huckabee, who famously lost more than 100 pounds before the 2008 race only to gain some of it back, looked thinner Friday than he has in recent years.

“I haven’t had any sugar since January,” Huckabee said of his diet. “That’s what I mostly do. Stay away from the sugars and the processed carbs. It’s not difficult. Honestly, it isn’t. When I decide I want to, I do it.”

Follow Alex on Twitter