Thursday, March 31, 2005

America Demands Heart Attack Sandwiches



Responding to what their research tells them people want, major fast-food franchises have begun to offer massive, fat-filled, heart-attack sandwiches to their customers. At the same time, national expenditures for obesity-related illnesses are skyrocketing, most of it funded by taxpayers.

The trend was started by Hardee's with its "Monster Thickburger", pictured above. It boasts two 1/3-pound slabs of beef, four strips of bacon, three slices of American cheese and a slathering of mayonnaise on a buttered, toasted, sesame seed bun. This monstrosity packs 1400 calories and 107 grams of fat. No word on the total damage when jumbo fries and soft drink are included.

"The original 'Monster Burger' was one of our most popular menu items," saysBrad Haley, executive vice president of marketing for Hardee's. "But it's now a 'Thickburger.'"

Not to be outdone, Burger King debuted its "Enormous Omelet Sandwich" last Monday. It has one sausage patty, two eggs, two cheese slices and three strips of bacon. That works out to 730 calories and 47 grams of dripping, artery-clogging fat.

The purpose of this post is not to demonize the fast-food industry. We are merely highlighting this trend to demonstrate that Americans are demanding these types of foods even as they find it ever more difficult to leverage their fat rumps out of their cars and drag themselves into the restaurants.

As the trend toward Supermegajumbo Grease Burgers continues, another trend will continue as well: Supermegajumbo medical bills.

New research shows the health care costs associated with obesity now outstrip those attributable to smoking. Federal statistics show that nearly 60% of Americans are obese or overweight, and that number has grown dramatically over the last decade. Not only that, but obesity rates among children are at an all-time high.

Illnesses associated with obesity are driving medial costs to unprecedented levels with no end in sight. According to research, these costs totaled up to $75 billion last year, and government-funded public insurers Medicare and Medicaid (that means you) financed about half of those expenses.

"Our whole health care system is screwed up," says Governor Mike Huckabee, who won his own personal war against obesity and now serves as a national role model. "We pay people to get sick. We do nothing for them to stay healthy. That's completely wrong. We should be creating incentives for individuals to lead a healthy lifestyle rather than pour money into a program that pays for sickness."

Mike Huckabee practices what he preaches. Check out his Healthy Arkansas program, which is beginning to spread around the country.

BSR


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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Other Bloggers On Mike Huckabee

I had a this info in the hopper for a potential post here, but Ryan James already covered it in his fine blog. Check it out.

Thanks, Ryan!

BSR

P.S. That photo does look sweet, doesn't it?

Welcome National Journal Readers!

I noticed quite a bit of traffic coming in from the National Journal so I checked it out. They mentioned this blog in their online publication today (thanks, National Journal!).

In the hospitable tradition of the south, I welcome you to the Mike Huckabee President 2008 blog. Make yourself at home!

BSR

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Mike Huckabee Weight Loss Book Coming In May



Governor Mike Huckabee's office has confirmed that his fourth book, "Quit Digging Your Grave With A Knife And Fork," will be released by Time Warner Book Group in May. The release of the book will be accompanied by a 12-city national tour as well as national and local print, television and radio appearances. Rumored to be among his national TV stops are appearances on Oprah, Leno and Letterman.

Governor Huckabee is using his own life story to wage a war against the obesity epidemic in America--an epidemic that is attacking children and adults in staggering numbers. The health crisis associated with obesity is so severe that, according to newly published studies, the life expectancy of Americans has begun to shorten -- reversing a 200-year trend!

In addition to shortening life expectancy, the health crisis is driving Medicare and Medicaid costs to unprecedented levels. Costs associated with Medicare alone are projected to far exceed the current Social Security "crisis", threatening to crush our children and grandchildren under an enormous weight of taxes if something is not done now.

Mike Huckabee has the ideas, experience and credibility to lead this fight against the number 1 financial crisis facing America today.

By the end of April, millions will know who Mike Huckabee is and what he is all about. Look for "Quit Digging Your Grave with A Knife And Fork" to be a big seller (pre-order your copy here).

I wonder if one of those 12-city stops will be in Iowa? Hmmmmm.

UPDATE: Blogger “Newsie” at Penndit wrote about our blog story regarding the upcoming release of Gov. Mike Huckabee’s weight loss book, Quit Digging Your Grave With a Knife and Fork, but he didn’t provide his readers a link to us *sigh*. Where's the love, Newsie?

BSR
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Trustees Break With Bush Administration, Say Medicare Is Real Crisis



We reported on this blog weeks ago that, while the Bush administration doggedly focuses on Social Security, Medicare is actually in much worse shape. Now, in a report published March 24 in the Washington Post, it is revealed that two independent trustees overseeing Social Security and Medicare have broken with the administration to point out the urgent need to address Medicare's ills.

Trustees Thomas R. Saving and John L. Palmer say that Medicare's financial condition has "deteriorated dramatically" since 2000 while Social Security has actually stabilized and even improved a bit. Both agree that Social Security is in need of changes, but note that Medicare's trust fund is projected to be depleted a full two decades before Social Security's!

"The question in my mind is why are we even talking about saving Social Security?" said Bruce Bartlett, a conservative commentator with the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Looking 75 years into the future, according the Trustees, Medicare expenditures are projected to approach 14 percent of the economy - nearly the total tax take today. (!) That is nearly triple the same Medicare projections made in 2000.

In other words, Medicare's costs are exploding exponentially and no one really knows where it will end.

Unlike Social Security, which can be fixed through a combination of many tactical options (cutting benefits, increasing returns on trust fund investments, creating private accounts, encouraging Americans to save more, etc.), Medicare has few options.

We're all going to get old and we're all going to need increasing amounts of health care.

In fact, the only real way we can control Medicare (and Medicaid, which a whole other crisis not even addressed here), aside from crushing our children and grandchildren under a weight of taxes that will reduce their standard of living compared to ours, is to get healthier and stay healthier!

Chronic illnesses, especially those attributed to obesity, account for the lion's share of all healthcare expenses. In fact, a new RAND study shows that obesity causes far more chronic health conditions than smoking, and identifies weight reduction as an "urgent public health priority."

Gov. Mike Huckabee is the only potential 2008 presidential candidate who is talking about the health care crisis in America and has the ideas and plans to address it.

BSR
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Monday, March 28, 2005

Huckabee For President Group Formed

"Dave" from Portland, Maine has formed a Huckabee for President group on Yahoo. Check it out. Welcome to the team, Dave!

BSR

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Huckabee Health Initiative Spreading To Other States, Nation



Interest in Governor Mike Huckabee and in his health and healthcare ideas continues to spread. Website eDiets.com, in an exclusive interview published on March 27, says the Governor's Healthy Arkansas initiative is spreading to other states and to the federal level. In the interview, Gov. Huckabee describes his own victory over obesity and discusses his view on the state of healthcare in America.

"Our whole health care system is screwed up," he says. "We pay people to get sick. We do nothing for them to stay healthy. That's completely wrong. We should be creating incentives for individuals to lead a healthy lifestyle rather than pour money into a program that pays for sickness. We should spend more time killing snakes than treating the snakebites!"

According to eDiets.com, Tommy Thompson, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, expressed interest in Huckabee's Healthy Arkansas initiative during a visit to Little Rock to speak at a diabetes conference. Interest and exchange of ideas has also taken place with other states. There is already a "Healthy Missouri" initiative in the works and "the progress could easily snowball until the entire nation gets onboard."

Remember, you heard it here first!

BSR
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Saturday, March 26, 2005

Health Has a New Spokesperson



Columnist David Sanders from the Arkansas News Bureau wrote a great article on March 16 titled "Health has a new spokesperson". In it, he credits Governor Huckabee for taking his personal story and using it to bring attention to the serious health and healthcare concerns facing this country. The following are excerpts from Mr. Sanders' column, including links within it to related articles we've published previously on this blog. You can find the column in its entirety by clicking the headline of this post.

It would be easy to focus only on all the theater that surrounds Huckabee's weight loss and discovery of athletic prowess. However, it would be a great disservice to ignore the message.

It is more than a feel-good story. His message should be a wake-up call for a country that has seen health care costs spiral out of control. To understand the U.S. health care system is to know that the current structure cannot be maintained.


A recent actuarial study of the system projected that within 10 years the average cost for health care per person will go from $6,000 yearly to nearly $12,000. An increase of this magnitude will further hamper the private sector's ability to cover the cost of health insurance and will create an enormous strain on federal and state budgets due to the increased cost in Medicare and Medicaid.

The payment structure is not the current system's only problem. Consider the increase in type 2 diabetes diagnoses. Some doctors claim the expansion of the condition is an indictment of a culture consumed with poor dietary habits and a lack of exercise. The governor's affliction with this disease is what caused him to change years of bad habits.

A message of healthy living is a must for a country that doesn't want its economy to go broke spending more on health care. There must be fundamental changes to the country's health care system, changes which give patients a stake in how health care dollars are spent and rewards healthy living.

Huckabee's newfound health makes him a natural messenger. I hope people will listen.

Great column, David!

BSR


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Friday, March 25, 2005

Kids Who Kill: Confronting Our Culture of Violence



We believe that healthcare-related issues will be a -- if not the--central focus of the 2008 presidential election. For that reason, this blog is primarily devoted to collecting, organizing and analyzing Gov. Mike Huckabee's ideas and qualifications for dealing with these issues at a national level. We do, however, allow current events to drive some of the content you find here.

Today is such a day. The recent shootings by 16-year-old student Jeff Weise at Red Lake High School in Bemidji, Minnesota reminded us that Gov. Mike Huckabee has thought a lot about youth violence.

It was just 7 years ago (March 24, 1998) in Jonesboro, Arkansas that two boys, Andrew Golden, 13, and his 11-year-old cousin, Mitchell Johnson, shot 15 other students and a teacher at Westside Middle School, killing four.

The Jonesboro incident followed another horrifying incident that occurred just 4 years earlier. Three second-graders were found beaten to death in a water-filled ditch, at least one of them sexually mutilated, in the tiny town of West Memphis, Arkansas. Three teenagers, Damien Echols, Jessie Miskelley and Jason Baldwin were tried and convicted in the murders.

The 1993 West Memphis incident, combined with school shootings in Pearl, MS and Norwalk, CA got the Governor thinking about youth violence. He began working on a book, eventually titled Kids Who Kill:Confronting Our Culture of Violence (Broadman & Holman, 1998) even before the Jonesboro shootings.

In the wake of such high profile crimes, gun control advocates always come out of the woodwork and criminal law changes are always debated. In his book, however, Gov. Huckabee argues that legislation is not the answer. He believes that such crimes by children are the result of a "demoralization of America" and asks that we all take a look at ourselves and our families for the answer.

"Violence, infidelity, mayhem, perversity, gore, betrayal, lust and disrespect have all been sanctified in music, television, movies and video games as necessary complements of a culture of self-fulfillment, self-absorption and self-realization," he says. "As we refuse to stand for morality, we easily fall into serving immorality."

To support this belief, Gov. Huckabee cites a number of disturbing statistics. Pornography, a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry in the U.S. and Canada, enjoys higher sales than McDonald's. (Jerry Kirk, The Mind Polluters). Promiscuity continues to rise as only 31 percent of American women and 20 percent of American men wait until marriage to have sexual relations; 43 percent of teens under the age of 17 have initiated sexual activity; and more than half of American marriages end in divorce after seven years or less. (New York Newsday, Feb. 2, 1988).

Experts agree. Iris Shakleford, a former middle school teacher and student of youth violence, says school violence comes down to the family. "I associate most everything with the home. Everything begins at home," she says. "The break down of the family could mean there's no one there to give support for that child. If there's no one there to do that, they don't feel home is a safe haven. That's when they turn to other groups or other people." The eighth grade teacher also notes a "total lack of parenting" in many school violence cases.

BSR
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Other Bloggers On Mike Huckabee 2008

More and more people are beginning to talk about Mike Huckabee as a candidate in 2008. From time to time I will post links to other bloggers who are talking about him. I don't have time to search them all out, so please drop me an email to let me know what you're up to and I will gladly link you here. Here's a well-done blog by Edward Sanders, a student at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi. Thanks, Edward!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Gov. Mike Huckabee: Defender of Life

The current national debate over the Terri Schiavo case, the Florida woman whose husband wants to have the feeding tube that has kept her alive for 15 years removed, has caused a lot of soul searching among conservatives. We've reported before on Mike Huckabee's views about abortion, but this is a different case entirely, which gets to the very root of the definition of life. When does life begin? When does it end? What role does (or should) technology play in it? Should states be able to come up with their own definitions of life? Or is this a federal issue?

"There's a larger issue in play, and that is the whole issue of the definition of life," said Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, a Republican. "The issue of when is it a life is a broader issue than just a state defining that. I don't think we can have 50 different definitions of life."

BSR

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Huckabee On Personal Responsibility, Health Care, Clinton Comparisons

The following is taken from Governor Mike Huckabee's weekly news column published August 6th, 2005. It has been edited for length and emphasis. For the column in original form, click here.

Governor Huckabee's News Column
August 6, 2005

When states and the federal government tackled welfare reform in the 1990s, we talked a lot about personal responsibility. Now, we must look at personal responsibility in terms of individual health and the economic health of our country.

We're raising a generation of obese children. Our health care system is dealing with problems that are unsustainable from a medical and fiscal point of view. Neither private insurance plans nor Medicaid can survive without significant changes. We indeed face a crisis that has nothing to do with outside terrorists. This is a crisis we've brought on ourselves. It isn't a fight we'll win with additional legislation and regulations. It's a battle that will be won by changing attitudes.

I think about two fellows from Hope who spent years battling weight problems. Both loved to eat, especially the fried foods that are the hallmark of Southern cooking. Both went on to become chairmen of the National Governors Association. One, Bill Clinton, tackled welfare reform as his NGA chairman's initiative. During the next year as NGA chairman, I will tackle this health problem.

Earlier this year, I joined President Clinton in New York as we kicked off an American Heart Association initiative to promote better health. President Clinton and I have disagreed on a number of issues through the years, but on this issue we march in lockstep. Our personal health experiences have reminded us that we need to be doing more to raise children who aren't overweight, who get the proper amount of exercise and who aren't at risk for diabetes at an early age.

The reality is that it took our country years to reach this point, and it will take years to turn things around. We must, however, start now. We live in an era of instant gratification. We want easy solutions. In this case, nothing is fast and nothing is easy.

I'm troubled by the attitude of many Americans concerning these problems. We watch the number of people on Medicaid grow, and we watch health insurance costs skyrocket. But we don't talk enough about personal responsibility. We don't seem to want to face the simple fact that a person who maintains a normal body weight, exercises several times a week and doesn't use tobacco is going to live longer. The person who does those things will access the health-care system far less than the person who makes poor health decisions.

We must convince Americans that our "just super size it" mentality is literally killing us. It will take effort to convince parents to think differently about how they feed their children. We've been able to convince them that their kids should always wear seat belts. Shouldn't we work now to get these parents to feed their children healthier foods?

If you had told me two years ago that I would lose 110 pounds, run a marathon and write a book about my personal journey, I would have thought you were crazy. Yet all of those things happened. So I know personal changes can take place with the proper amount of education and motivation. But I also know how difficult it is. I grew up in a family that lived from paycheck to paycheck. I'm well aware that the young mother out there with three children and a low-wage job has a great deal to worry about. We can't just lecture her because she and her children are overweight. We must instead give that mother and her children support, tools and incentives.

That's what we're trying to do through our Healthy Arkansas initiative. I understand there are thousands of Arkansans who can't afford to join health clubs and buy running shoes. Still, there are simple things like walking that they can do. We must discover how to punch the right buttons that will lead people to finally say, "I want to change the way I'm living and change for good."

Apologies from the Management

I want to apologize to the readers of this blog for the recent lack of new information being posted. It's been a rough few days for those of us who knew Dr. Fay Boozman, Arkansas' Health Department Director, who was killed in an accident on his farm over the weekend. Please check back as I get back home and into the groove toward the middle of this week.

BSR

Saturday, March 19, 2005

BREAKING NEWS: Fay Boozman, Director of Arkansas Department of Health Killed

This is awful news. Dr. Fay Boozman, Director of the Arkansas Department of Health, has been killed according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A long-time friend and key advocate of the Governor's Healthy Arkansas initiative, Fay was a wonderful and caring man to those who knew him. There are no further details at this time.

UPDATE: According to KTHV Channel 11 news in Little Rock, Dr. Boozman was killed in an accident while working in his barn on his property in Rogers, AR.

Gov. Mike Huckabee Pushes Health Program: Ahead of the National Curve


Gov. Mike Huckabee, as part of his overall Healthy Arkansas program, announced plans this week to initiate a program providing incentives for restaurants to provide healthy menu options and smoke-free environments for customers and employees. Amost 60% of Americans, including children, are classified as overweight-to-obese. "Many times, when people think they are eating healthy, they might not be," Huckabee said, noting that 45% of all meals that Arkansans eat are away from home.

Montine McNulty, Executive Director of the Arkansas Hospitality Acssociation, said the National Restaurant Association is developing a similar program to Huckabee's but has yet to launch it. "The Governor has helped Arkansas to move ahead of the national curve," she said.

Previous articles on this blog detail the tremendous costs, both human and financial, associated with the national edidemic of obesity. Governor Mike Huckabee is at the forefront of this issue.
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Friday, March 18, 2005

Steroids Can Make You Big, Rich & Famous



If you have a television, you've heard about the congressional hearings going on over steroid use in professional baseball. Why are these congressmen, our so-called "representatives" spending a single minute even thinking about this subject--much less having hearings?

Is it because they are "concerned about the perception steroid use creates among high school and college athletes," as the congressional committee claims? Or is it just grand-standing? Consider some of the remarks made by committee members and make your own decision about their motives:

"Have you played the game with honesty and integrity?"
Congressman William Clay (MO)

"There's a cloud over the game that I love."
Congressman Tom Davis (VA)

So I ask again, are these "representatives" more concerned about young people using steroids, or about the game of baseball? Are they more concerned about kids, or about generating headlines?

Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they really are concerned about steroid use among kids. I wonder if they realize all they've done is drag a bunch of big, healthy-looking, rich and famous guys who retired at 30 out in front of millions of kids. What effect do you suppose that has on the kids? Instead of Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, why didn't congress drag out some old, broken down, sick former players?

Not only that, even if congress is concerned about steroid use among kids, we have to ask if that's the health issue they should be concerned about in the first place. According to a study by the University of Michigan, only about 4% of teen males and about 1% of teen females have tried steroids.

Never mind that teen use of other even more harmful drugs is at levels quadruple the numbers who have tried steroids, because I want to point out another major health issue among kids that affects literally millions more of them than anything else: obesity.

We've reported here before that childhood obesity affects up to 30% of children and has more than doubled in the last 25 years. Childhood diabetes, caused by obesity, has increased 10-fold in the last 20 years! New, comprehensive studies show that obesity is already shortening our lives-reversing a 200-year trend! These new studies also show that obesity is the number 1 factor in the chronic diseases that are driving Medicaid and Medicare costs into the stratosphere and contributes mightily to the number of bankruptices (another congressional favorite issue), which we've reported on here and here.

Where are the hearings? Where's the outrage? Why is Gov. Mike Huckabee the only one out there talking about this hugely important issue?

Oh, I forgot. They're spending their time talking to big, healthy-looking, rich and famous guys who retired at 30.

BSR
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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Shocking New Study Says Obesity Shortening Lives: Calls For National Vision


In a shocking new study published on Thursday, March 17 in the New England Journal of Medicine, and reported by CNN, researchers have determined that the current epidemic of obesity may actually reduce Americans' life expectancy, reversing a nearly 200-year trend.

Adding additional fuel to Gov. Mike Huckabee's crusade against obesity, reported here and here, and for an overall re-thinking of how we perceive health policy, this study reports the following heartbreaking facts:

· Two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese; one-third of adults qualify as obese.

· Up to 30 percent of U.S. children are overweight, and childhood obesity has more than doubled in the past 25 years.

· Childhood diabetes has increased 10-fold in the past 20 years.

"It's one thing for an adult of 45 or 55 to develop type 2 diabetes and then experience the life-threatening complications of that -- kidney failure, heart attack, stroke -- in their late 50s or 60s. But for a 4-year-old or 6-year-old who's obese to develop Type 2 diabetes at 14 or 16 raises the possibility of devastating complications before reaching age 30. It's really a staggering prospect," said Dr. David Ludwig of Children's Hospital Boston, a study co-author.

While national attention is starting to focus on contributors to obesity, including the prevalence of fast-food, soft drinks in schools and cuts in physical education classes, "what we presently lack is a clear, comprehensive national vision for addressing the obesity epidemic," Ludwig said.

Readers of this blog know that Gov. Mike Huckabee is way ahead of the curve on this one. His national vision for addressing the obesity epidemic will soon come to light. You heard it here first ;)

BSR
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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Praise for Gov. Mike Huckabee


Promoted from recent comments:

"I just read that Second Amendment letter of Governor Huckabee's on your web site. Not only am I blown away by such a bold and defiant statement in support of gun owners in this country, but the eloquence displayed in the letter is truly inspiring. Clearly, Governor Huckabee 'walks the talk' in support of our Constitutional rights. That's a letter I can sure stand behind ... and I'd be proud to call its author "Mr. President!'"

DeWayne H.
Phoenix, AZ

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Monday, March 14, 2005

Dear Readers...

I have a quick announcement for you readers who have been visiting here since the beginning. As you know, I started this blog on a bit of a whim way back on Feb. 14, thinking that it would probably be weeks--maybe even months-- before it started to catch on. Well, (happily) I was wrong. Instead of having plenty of time to collect, write and organize content, I had only two days before the media picked up on it and announced the address all over Arkansas. It didnt take long after that for it to get mentioned in the Washington pundit newsletters. I think that says a lot for the kind of support and interest Mike Huckabee has now--and will continue to get.

The bottom line is this little effort quickly outgrew my ability to do it justice. So, after a long weekend of talking with BSR and thinking it over, I've decided to leave you in his more than capable hands and move on to "other projects".

I'll close by saying "thanks" and reminding you to please forward this blog to your friends and family, continue to educate yourself about Mike Huckabee and what he stands for, talk about him at the watercooler and, most of all, keep him in your prayers.

Crit

The Looming Medicare Disaster


Gov. Mike Huckabee is the only potential candidate for President in 2008 who is talking about the single biggest financial crisis this country faces not just today, but for the next 75 years: Obesity.

That's right, obesity. We already showed you on March 11 how many bankruptcies are caused by healthcare expenses, and how much obesity impacts healthcare expenses. We also told you back on March 3rd about the looming Medicare disaster when we compared it to the Social Security crisis that is getting so much attention. At that time, we showed you GAO estimates indicating that while Social Security is projected to be $3.7 trillion short over the next 75 years, Medicare is projected to be $27.8 trillion short!

Today we have new research that will show you where a large chunk of that $27.8 trillion is coming from. You guessed it, obesity. Researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago released a study published on March 1, 2005 titled "Financial Fallout From Obesity" that indicates a "large difference in average annual cumulative Medicare charges between those with optimal [body mass index] BMI in young adulthood and middle age and those who were overweight or obese." Further, "the study demonstrated that most people who were overweight or obese at early ages went on to experience greater morbidity and disability when older, resulting in the higher Medicare costs."

Folks, with almost 60% of the American population currently classified as overweight-to-obese its easy to see why Medicare is in trouble. We're getting fat at younger ages, staying fat, getting sick with more serious illnesses and staying sick longer than at any time in history. It is simply not sustainable.

Mike Huckabee is the only potential candidate out there who is talking about this and who understands the implications of this crisis. Stay tuned.

BSR

Note: The illustration above was borrowed from RonJones.org, a great website devoted to educating the public about the dangers of child obesity. Check it out.
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Sunday, March 13, 2005

"Off The Record" With Gov. Mike Huckabee



Governor Mike Huckabee was recently interviewed on GOP.com's "Off the Record". This is a great opportunity for those of you who have not had the opportunity to see and hear him to become better acquainted. Click the headline above.
BSR
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Saturday, March 12, 2005

Huckabee Editorial Cartoon


Here's a weekend funny for you. Gov. Mike Huckabee and his wife, Janet, were recently invited to spend the night at the White House by President Bush while at the National Governor's Association meeting.

BSR

P.S. Thanks to those of you who remarked about yesterday's post!
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Friday, March 11, 2005

So You Think Bankruptcy Law Is An Issue



OK, America. Here's my first post to this blog. I hope you enjoy it!
BSR

Americans have been hearing a lot in recent days about new bankruptcy legislation that is being considered by congress. It seems that current bankruptcy laws make it too easy for people to avoid paying credit card debts. Ever wonder what causes people to go bankrupt? Some people are just dumb enough to live way beyond their means on credit cards. It's hard to feel sorry for them.

But guess what? A brand new Harvard Medical School study shows that more than one half of all bankruptcies are filed as a result of medical expenses -more than half! And these aren't all just poor, uninsured people, either. "Most were average Americans who happened to get sick," the study says. These families had health coverage, but it "offered little protection. Families with health coverage faced unaffordable co-payments, deductibles, and bills for uncovered items and even the best job-based health insurance often vanished when prolonged illness caused job loss -precisely when families needed it most." In addition, "several had used credit cards to charge medical bills they had no hope of paying." Finally, these people were not just rushing into bankruptcy, either. They fought hard and suffered long before being forced into it.

In the two years prior to filing:

· 40% lost phone service
· 19% went without food
· 54% went without needed healthcare
· 43% stopped filling prescriptions
· 15% took out second and third mortgages for medical bills
· 1/3 continue to struggle paying bills long after filing bankruptcy

That, my friends, is a human tragedy.

Now, guess what racks up the lion's share of medical bills? Chronic illnesses. Guess what causes more chronic illnesses than anything else? Obesity. That's right.

According to brand new research conducted by RAND, obesity is linked to "very high rates of chronic illnesses--higher than living in poverty and much higher than smoking or drinking." When compared to normal-weight individuals, obese people suffer from a 67% increase in chronic health conditions. For smokers its only 25%. (!)

Now get this. Not only does obesity cause far more health problems than smoking, it also affects far more people. Approximately 19% of Americans are smokers. Fully 59% of us are classified as overweight-to-obese! Chronic illnesses often take years to develop. That means that almost 60% of us are walking around out there with a chronic, catastrophically expensive, life altering disease percolating in our veins. In other words, "current research may, if anything, understate the public health consequences of obesity."

So if you're a big, powerful, intelligent lawmaker in Washington--and you care about bankruptcy law--you must care about obesity too, right? Well, apparently not.

"RAND's findings suggest that weight reduction should be an urgent public health priority." But there's only one politician out there talking about it: Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Maybe we should listen.
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Thursday, March 10, 2005

"Revenge Of The Flat Footed Nerd"


OK, I'm sorry to preempt my Blue State Republican friend's very first post, but this was just too good. I had to get it up for you. John Brummett, an Arkansas columnist who is admittedly unfriendly toward Gov. Huckabee has written an amazingly candid column about the impact the Governor's physical metamorphosis has had on his (Brummett's) attitude. It demonstrates how truly powerful and motivational this story is. Click the headline for the column. Posted by Hello

An Announcement

I have a house-keeping announcement for you this morning that I'm excited about. This blog was started on a whim on Feb. 14, just a few weeks ago, and quickly got much more attention than I anticipated. Thats all good. What's bad is that its been demanding more time than I have to give. Just last night I had 26 email comments from you (you're a talkative bunch!). I'm not able to answer them all, sorry for that. Between work, family, church and fishing (I have to fish)--and considering where I think this blog is headed over the coming months--my time is too limited to do justice to this effort. So I've called in reinforcements. Later today you will be introduced to a close friend of mine who is a displaced Arkansan living in some godforsaken blue state. He's a big supporter of Gov. Huckabee's and he's delighted to have the opportunity to get behind him again (hopefully, assuming the Governor takes up the race). Even better, he's an excellent essayist, so you're bound to get better quality as well.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Mike Huckabee Named 'Athlete of the Week', Inspiration to Others


USA Track & Field, the governing body of track athletics, named Gov. Mike Huckabee their 'Athlete of the Week' this week after he sucessfully completed the Little Rock Marathon in just over 4 1/2 hours. Most important, at least from the perspective of this blog, is that Gov. Huckabee's amazing personal story of going from obesity to 'Athlete of the Week' in under 2 years is being credited with inspiring others. According to USATF, this year's 30% increase in marathon entrants is due to Huckabee's participation. Click the headline for the complete story. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Mike Huckabee Crossfire Appearance


Mike Huckabee appeared on Crossfire Monday afternoon where he discussed his thoughts and ideas about the health crisis in America. This was an interesting show because Bob Novak, the conservative, and Paul Begala, the liberal, seemed to have switched roles. Begala clearly "got it" and agreed with the Governor while Novak, who was even grumpier than usual, disagreed. Gov. Huckabee handled him with grace and style, as usual. The following are excerpts from the show's transcript. For the complete transcript, click the headline of this post.

NOVAK: Why do people in government feel the need to tell me what to eat and how much I should sweat? Up next, should we just -- should we get fit just because some governor from a little backwood state says we should? Next, we'll ask a suddenly thin governor what he thinks. And, later, a behind-the-scenes bedtime story from the tsunami relief trip of former Presidents Bush and Clinton. It's really a sweet story.
(APPLAUSE)
BEGALA: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was at a body- building event named after him this weekend, where he said he wants to ban the sale of junk food in California schools. Also, over the weekend, two other governors, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Tom Vilsack of Iowa, ran marathons. Governor Huckabee is pushing fitness in a big way after he dropped 110 pounds through diet and exercise. So, what is the government's proper role in encouraging you to be fit? Today, in the CROSSFIRE, joining us from Arkansas, Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, complete with his medal from the Arkansas marathon, where he had a smoking good time. And here in Washington, Fred Smith, the president and founder of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Thank you guys, both.
(APPLAUSE)
NOVAK: Governor, if you want to abuse yourself by eating greens and drinking orange juice and running marathons, this is a free country. You can do it. But why do you -- why do you want to press it on me? I haven't exercised in 50 years. I have -- I eat no vegetables and no fruit. Why do you -- I'm -- just had my 74th birthday. Why do you want to make this life unpleasant for me?
GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE (R), ARKANSAS: Bob, I don't want to be your sugar sheriff and I don't want to be the grease police for what you eat or don't eat. But we have a serious health crisis in America that is costing you as a taxpayer billions and billions of dollars. I know you don't like to pay high taxes. Neither do I. And so, as a conservative, I think it's not government's place to tell you what you can eat, but it is government's responsibility to try to create a culture of health, so that people will make choices and those choices would be healthy choices. And so it's not about the government forcing people to do things. It's about the government not only leading by example, but by creating incentives, so that people's choices bring for a healthier civilization.
(APPLAUSE)
NOVAK: Well, sir, the governor is already make those suggestions. The department of HHS has a long list of suggestions. Let me just read a few of them to you. And I'm not making this up, folks. This is really on the HHS Web site. Get a dog and walk it.
(LAUGHTER)
NOVAK: Drink diet soda. Skip seconds.
(LAUGHTER)
NOVAK: More carrots, less cake. And here's my favorite. Stop eating when you're full. (LAUGHTER)
NOVAK: Now, I mean, is that -- is that -- isn't that -- I mean, Governor, you're a reasonable man. Isn't that silly?
HUCKABEE: You know, it probably sounds silly on surface. And I agree that to tell somebody to stop eating when he's full is probably unnecessary. But, after all, that gave some government employees some exercise in typing that out that whole quotient on the page.
(LAUGHTER)
HUCKABEE: But we do have -- I want to go back to this. Obesity is epidemic in proportion in the United States. It's creating an enormous health crisis, particularly among children where, in Arkansas, we became the first state to do body mass index testing of the school kids in our state.We anticipated that 30 percent were overweight or obese; 40 percent are overweight or obese. We're now seeing type II diabetes in kids as young as 7 and 8 years old. These are kids that are going to have vision problems when they're 20, heart attacks before they're 30. They'll be on full dialysis by the time they're 40. And they'll never live to see a 50th birthday, the first generation of kids in American history who are expected to live less than their parents or grandparents.
BEGALA: That' a good point, Governor.
NOVAK: In your state of Arkansas, you've gone pretty far in measuring people and weighing them. You know, if I were a liberal Democrat, if I were -- and I'm not.
(LAUGHTER)
NOVAK: I would -- I would say, that reminds me of Nazi Germany. They use to take measurements like that. But I'm not a liberal Democrat, so I won't -- I won't do that. HUCKABEE: No, Bob, Bob...
NOVAK: But, instead, I'm going to quote -- I'm going to quote Arkansas State Senator Kim Hendren, who I'm sure you know. He's a Republican.
HUCKABEE: Yes.
NOVAK: And he says: "These teachers are not all school nurses and health professionals that are supposed to get us on Weight Watchers. Give them a break, man, and let them start teaching the kids and get all this stuff all of them." Senator Hendren has it right, doesn't he?
HUCKABEE: No. Let me tell you something, Bob. You know, you made the quote, why should we test them? We test their vision, because, if they can't see, they can't learn. We test their hearing, because, if they can't hear, they can't learn. And kids who are inherently obese, who end up with type II diabetes in a preteen area, these are kids who have serious health problems. And they can't learn because they're sick. We're talking about kids who are seriously ill, who have millions and millions and millions of dollars worth of diseases, that, as a conservative, you're not going to want to pay for, but you are going to have to, because the Medicaid rolls in my state, like every other state, are doubling. And it's no longer infectious disease. It's chronic disease. Eighty percent of the nursing home beds in Arkansas are Medicaid; 77 percent of our Medicaid clients are there for a chronic disease. And here's what's really frightening. When you look at what's happening to the typical American, we are -- as the name of my book that's coming out this spring says, we are digging our graves with a knife and fork. And it's something that we can change, not by government edict. And I agree with Fred. This is not government's role to tell people the size of the cheeseburger they can eat. I don't believe we ought to put an extra tax on a steak. But I do believe that government has a responsibility to try to save money by insuring that its citizens at least understand the basic consequences of an epidemic of obesity. (APPLAUSE)


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Monday, March 07, 2005

Column by David Sanders, Arkansas News Bureau

David Sanders is a very good columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau. He has a quick mind, great skills and an almost pathological interest in Arkansas' politics (a trait which I admire). Some of you may remember that I got on him (good-naturedly, of course) a little bit in a post here last month for writing about this blog and critiquing its layout, rather than its content or purpose (to which he has yet to respond, I might add). However, he did write a very interesting article this past Sunday titled "Two governors, two messages" which touches on some of Governor Huckabee's approaches to his job as Chief Executive of Arkansas. It provides some valuable insight into how he might handle similar matters on a national scale in the future (thats an inference I'm making, not Mr. Sanders).

You may click the headline, above, to read the column. Nice work, David!

Mike Huckabee: A Man of Character

There are many, many reasons that I believe so strongly in Gov. Mike Huckabee's ability to lead this country. I'll share many of these reasons with you along the way, but I will save the best ones for the right times. Today, I want to share with you a short excerpt from the introduction to the Governor's book titled Character IS The Issue. This passage is slightly edited for length, and the bold emphasis is mine:

Responding to questions regarding his personal character, President Bill Clinton once told his audience that "character isn't the issue." Yet our character defines the world we live in. Our government, welfare programs, schools, and everything else in our lives are shaped and directed according to our character. It's commonly claimed that "you can't legislate morality," but in fact every law in the country is a reflection of our moral values. ...Over the past thirty years, a decline in our moral character has produced a decline in the character of our society. Columnists and researchers have produced a whole library of books and reports on the issue and laid blame for our cultural troubles on everything from government policy to single parent households. What it all comes down to, though, is that people of good, godly character make good, godly laws. Everything hinges on the character of the men and women we choose to establish public policies.

I think that pretty much says it all.

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Sunday, March 06, 2005

Mike Huckabee Defeats Iowa Democrat



Today, nearly two years after he embarked on a diet and fitness regimen that left him 110 pounds lighter and diabetes free, Gov. Mike Huckabee finished the Little Rock Marathon 40 minutes ahead of his new running mate Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa.

This photo of Gov. Huckabee was taken at about the 15 mile point of the race today. Just finishing a 26 mile marathon is impressive to anybody, but to those of us who have known Mike Huckabee for a long time, it is truly amazing to see how far he's come in just over a year. We are all very proud of him.

His commitment to his own health sets a fantastic example to all the people of Arkansas--and soon to the whole country--as he talks about his ideas and policies for health and healthcare in this country.

Click the headline of this post for the complete ABC news article.

Congratulations, Governor!

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Friday, March 04, 2005

Mike Huckabee The Outdoorsman (And Defender Of Our 2nd Amendment Right)


Well, we are heading into a gorgeous Arkansas early Spring weekend so it just felt right to introduce you to a outdoor activity that Gov. Huckabee shares with hundreds of thousands of outdoorsmen around the country: hunting--in this case, wild turkey hunting.

While hunting near the beautiful Ozark mountain town of Mountain View, Arkansas last Spring, Gov. Mike Huckabee harvested this 23-pound wild turkey which had an 11.5-inch beard and 7/8-inch spurs.

Of course with this being a blog devoted to promoting the Governor's qualities as a potential candidate for POTUS, this gives me the opportunity to tell you that Mike Huckabee is a staunch defender of Americans' Second Amendment right.

As proof, I invite you to check out the following copy of the text from a rather strongly worded letter written by Mike Huckabee to New York Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer, regarding the Smith and Wesson quid pro quo -- compliance with Clinton's gun mandates in order to win federal and state law enforcement purchase contracts.

Dear General Spitzer:

I have received your letter inviting me to join in your effort to encourage various state and local governments to award law enforcement gun contracts only to gun manufacturers agreeing to a "Code of Conduct" which dictates various business practices, safety features, marketing strategies, etc., for both gun manufacturers and gun dealers at the wholesale and retail level. I must respectfully decline your invitation.

First let me say, if I believed the safety of my constituents were truly the issue, I would be much more considerate of your request. But we are not living in a country flooded with "unsafe" guns. It is their illegal use that endangers us -- that must be addressed through vigorous criminal prosecution.

Providing for guns safety locks is one thing and, in truth, only a small part of your "Code of Conduct." However, dictating how many guns a purchaser is allowed to take home on one day, banning sales at gun shows and prohibiting a minor from even entering a gun store without a parent or guardian are parts of a political agenda, not a push for "gun safety." Coupling the safety issue with a strict regulation of business practices is merely a maneuver to advance a decidedly political agenda under the guise of "public safety."

I am a strong proponent and defender of Americans' Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. I also make every effort to be a responsible manager of my constituents' tax dollars.
I ask the director of the Arkansas State Police to make purchasing and requisition decisions based on quality, service and price. I will not ask him to award a lucrative government contract in order to further a political agenda geared at controlling and ultimately destroying the firearms industry. I want Arkansas State Troopers to protect our citizens and themselves using the best guns available, not guns from the most "politically correct" manufacturer.

In 1999, I signed into law an act prohibiting Arkansas' local governments from suing firearms manufacturers seeking compensation for injuries and deaths resulting from the illegal use of these companies' products. To hold the gun industry accountable for crime is like holding our nation's farmers liable for the healthcare costs associated with obesity.

The desire of some to blame the gun manufacturers for crime rather than prosecute criminals seems to me a sadly misguided attempt at protecting our citizens. It is also a rather thinly veiled attempt to vilify and control those who engage in a business which is eminently legal and necessary, yet not particularly smiled upon by the current administration in Washington.

I thank God previous administrations understood and appreciated not only the sanctity of the Second Amendment, but its necessity as well. Gun manufacturers make the Second Amendment a viable right rather than some theoretical proposition. I will not abuse my authority as Governor to pursue their demise or dictate their business practices through coercion.

So the answer is a definite "no," I will not seek the capitulation of firearm manufacturers through the use of asinine lawsuits or the doling out of taxpayer-funded government contracts. I regret that you feel either of these tactics to be worthwhile endeavors.

Sincerely yours,
Mike Huckabee
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Thursday, March 03, 2005

A Looming Healthcare Crisis: Medicare


While all the talk today is about Social Security, Americans are soon to be hit by a virtual tsunami of healthcare expenses. Medicare, the healthcare program millions of American seniors depend on, is faced with the same kind of shortage problems as Social Security--with one exception: The Medicare shortfall is projected to be seven times the size of the one that Social Security faces and nearly four times the entire federal debt.

Think about that for a second...

The numbers are astounding. Social Security is $3.7 trillion short of what it will need for benefits over the next 75 years, under the latest federal projections. Medicare must find an estimated $27.8 trillion. This coming crisis threatens to smother working-age Americans--you, me, our children and grand-children--under a crushing weight of taxes. We'll need a President with the committment, leadership, compassion, experience and ideas to fix it. Mike Huckabee, who has healthcare issues at the very top of his agenda, can provide this leadership.

Governor, we need you.

http://www.cnn.com/2005/HEALTH/03/02/medicare.ills.ap/index.html
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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Washington Whispers: Huckabee 2008 Gaining Speed


OK, folks..I told you in a post back in February that you will hear a lot more about Gov. Mike Huckabee's amazing weight loss and his committment to creating innovative healthcare policies for Americans. Well, here it comes....U.S. News' Washington Whispers has declared that the Huckabee 2008 bandwagon is gaining speed!! You don't have to take my word for it anymore!

Now hear this: When his book hits, and he appears on Oprah, Leno, Letterman (where he will play his bass with the bands) and FOX News and CNN and a hundred other places where Americans will get to enjoy his amazing sense of humor, glibness, charm and learn about his ideas for our country, the Huckabee 2008 bandwagon will go into hyperdrive.
Here's the article:

Oprah is calling
The 2008 presidential bandwagon of Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is gaining speed. We hear that Oprah Winfrey is eager to get the Republican on her show when his weight-loss guide is published this spring. Don't laugh: He lost over 100 pounds, and his story, Quit Digging Your Grave With a Knife and Fork: A 12-Stop Program to End Bad Habits and Begin a Healthy Lifestyle, is expected to be a big seller.
http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/050307/whispers/7whisplead_2.htm
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Mike Huckabee Named THE Dark Horse Candidate For 2008

Here's an Associated Press article from New York Newsday titled "Summary Box: Govs Weigh White House Bids" that says "political insiders" are already looking at 2008 candidates and names Mike Huckabee the dark horse candidate for the Republican nomination!

Summary Box: Govs Weigh White House Bids
By The Associated PressFebruary 27, 2005, 6:28 PM EST

NEVER TOO EARLY: Political insiders are already looking at candidates for 2008, with at least a dozen governors likely or possible candidates. TOP PICKS VS. DARK HORSES: Republicans Jeb Bush of Florida and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas; Democrats Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas. THE SCENE: The nation's governors visit the White House in tuxedos and gowns for a formal dinner.

http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/wire/sns-ap-governors-presidential-hopes-summary-box,0,4416456.story?coll=sns-ap-nationworld-headlines
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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Mike Huckabee's Committment To Health Care


According to the North American Association for the Study of Obesity and the Centers for Disease Control, America is in the grips of an obesity epidemic that costs the U.S. an estimated $75 billion annually (2003 dollars!). While the dollar costs are huge, the human costs are much higher: length of life and quality of life both suffer. Perhaps most saddening, the age at which obesity strikes is younger and younger every year. Studies show that nearly one-half of High School Senior boys are significantly overweight, and the same number of 10th grade girls.

Mike Huckabee has taken this issue on in a serious way, not just to save taxpayer dollars but to help people improve the quality of their own lives and the lives of their children. Not only that, Mike Huckabee has taken on the heroic task of using himself to set an example for others, losing over 100 pounds in just one year. It truly is an amazing story. The following is an excerpt from Gov. Huckabee's 2005 State of the State Address:

From Gov. Mike Huckabee's 2005 State of the State Address, January 12, 2005
As published by the Arkansas News Bureau
www.arkansasnews.com

"..it is incumbent upon us here today to make sure that we plant not just for the next election, or even the next session, but clearly for the next generation.

To do that, we have to start addressing the acute needs of the health of the citizens of our state. We have made some great strides. The ARKids First program, which was launched in 1997, has helped reduce the rates of uninsured children from 19 percent to 11 percent. We have had one of the most remarkable records of providing care for uninsured children of any state in the country, by anybody's measurements or standards. There's also the CHART plan that the citizens of Arkansas approved in 2000. It was implemented in the 2001 legislative session. It helped us to be one of only three states that took all of the money from the tobacco lawsuit settlement and poured it back into better health for our citizens, particularly targeting the needs that exist in the minority community where hypertension, heart disease and stroke are at even greater levels than they are for the rest of the state. And we poured more money into the areas of Arkansas that are most impoverished and where health needs are greater, as we should have done. Last May, we launched the Healthy Arkansas initiative, which is largely an effort to bring a new focus on the culture of health in Arkansas and to change people's attitudes because, frankly, there are three particular areas that are most troubling for the people of our state - obesity, inactivity and smoking. If we could just get people to exercise three times a week, refrain from the use of tobacco and maintain a normal body weight, they would extend their lives by some 13 years - not only the length of life but the quality of life.
That's what we have to address because the cost of health care is totally out of control.

You're going to administer the largest health care budget in the state, the Medicaid program. When I became governor 8 1/2 years ago, our Medicaid budget was some $600 million a year. Today, it is well over $3 billion a year. In that short a period of time, it has grown that much and currently serves 600,000 Arkansans. I want you to think about that. One in four of your constituents is on the Medicaid program. We're asking you in the budget for an additional $200 million dollars. That is not going to add new programs, cover new people, extend anybody's benefits or give them better care than what they get now. All in the world that is going to do is simply maintain the programs that we have in place serving those 600,000 Arkansans.

We have to decide there is a better approach to health care than just pouring money into trying to treat sick people. It might be that we ought to put a greater level of focus on keeping people from getting sick in the first place. It's the only way we can stop the unsustainable growth of Medicaid. And here is what is telling. Of those 600,000 people that I told you were on Medicaid, 77 percent of them are being treated for chronic diseases; not infectious but chronic diseases that largely are preventable or curable with a lifestyle change. Truly,
if you think about the fact that the majority of costs are related to the way we live rather than just how sick we are, the need to make that change is dramatic.

Making changes in worksite wellness will be a high priority. We must have the full implementation of Act 1220 from the last legislative session targeting school kids so that they not only
learn to live healthier but so that they live in an environment that encourages them to become healthy young adults. ..."
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Who Is Mike Huckabee?


The recent AP article that mentioned Gov. Mike Huckabee as a potential presidential candidate in 2008 has driven a whole new set of readers to this blog who are looking for information about him, so I am re-posting the following article. And remember to please pass this blog along to any friends who are interested in supporting an intelligent, caring, conservative, Christian candidate for President of the United States in 2008. Thank you!

Who is Mike Huckabee? Mike Huckabee is the Governor of Arkansas. He is from Hope, Arkansas. He is one of the longest serving Governors in the country. If all that sounds familiar, it may be because Bill Clinton shared the exact same resume when he launched his Presidential bid in 1992.

There are many similiarities between Mike Huckabee and Bill Clinton aside from their governorship of Arkansas and upbringing in "a place called Hope." Both are musicians (Huckabee bass, Clinton sax). Both are intelligent, eloquent and engaging.

There are also differences. Major ones.

In fact, the eerie similarities combined with the stark differences between these two men make Mike Huckabee sort of the "Anti-Clinton".

The purpose of this blog over the coming months will be to collect Mike Huckabee information and make it easy for what is sure to be a growing number of supporters to find and comment on.



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