Sunday, July 31, 2005

Huckabee's Presidential Possibilities Noticed By New Englander

We first told you on July 22 about a tip we received about a trip by Mike Huckabee to New Hampshire over the weekend of an important Republican event. Then, on July 28 our tipster's accuracy was confirmed when the AP reported that not only was Huckabee to appear in New Hampshire, but he was to be the keynote speaker and only potential presidential candidate at the largest Republican gathering in the state.

Now, more members of the MSM are picking up on the story, and reporting a bit more about why Huckabee was invited. According to WMC TV in Memphis, Huckabee's presidential possibilities have been noticed by New Hampshire Republicans.

Matt Mayberry of Dover, New Hampshire, who extended the invitation to Huckabee, says Huckabee is already in a national leadership position as chairman of the National Governors Association, and he is getting recognition for his views on education reform and personal responsibility.


Saturday, July 30, 2005

Welcome New Visitors

A special welcome to our new visitors from the Primary 2008 and Decision 08 blogs. Special thanks also to Frank Myers (Primary 2008) and Mark Coffey (Decision 08) for linking up our blog about Huckabee's education results.

If you are new to our blog, come on in and make yourself at home. Grab a cup of coffee and spend a little time getting to know Governor Mike Huckabee a little better.


Friday, July 29, 2005

Huckabee Delivers Eye-Popping Education Results

We’ve talked a lot on this blog about Governor Huckabee’s successful emphasis on health reforms in Arkansas, which he will soon be taking to the national level with his “Healthy America” initiative as chairman of the National Governor’s Association. Because this blog was launched just 5 short months ago, and because of the rapid succession of health-related events in Huckabee’s schedule, we’ve not really had time to point out to you this fact: Overall, Mike Huckabee is without a doubt THE most successful governor in Arkansas’ history.

The fact is Mike Huckabee’s record of success far surpasses Bill Clinton’s in Arkansas.

Huckabee’s successes go far beyond health care reforms and include everything from massive infrastructure projects to conserving Arkansas’ natural resources and heritage. We’ll tell you about all of these successes over the course of the next several months, but today we’ll focus on education.

Soon after becoming governor in 1996, Mike Huckabee began to implement his own ideas for education reforms, resulting in his Smart Start initiative which placed a heavy emphasis on reading and mathematics for students from kindergarten through the fourth grade. Smart Start proved to be so successful that he then created Smart Step, a similar emphasis for students from the fifth through the eighth grades, to carry the success on to higher grades.

Student scores on standardized tests have risen steadily since the creation of Smart Start and Smart Step, something never before achieved in Arkansas (or in most other southern states).

Today (July 29, 2005), the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette published an article detailing the tangible results of these programs over the last eight years. The article, headlined “More state students reach upper levels in math exams,” reports the following eye-popping facts released by the Department of Education:
  • Twenty-three percent, or almost one in four, Algebra I test takers and 17 percent of geometry test-takers scored at the advanced level on the tests, up a whopping 7 to 9 percentage points from the previous year
  • More than half the test-takers in each subject scored at advanced or proficient levels
  • Sixty percent of algebra test takers scored at proficient or advanced levels, up 7 percentage points from the previous year
  • Fifty-five percent of geometry test-takers scored at those levels, also up 7 percentage points from the year before
  • Even more impressively, as the percentages of students scoring at the top two levels on the math exams improved, the percentages of students scoring at the basic and below-basic levels on the test have dropped
  • A total of 79 percent of Algebra I test-takers scored at below basic and basic levels the first year the test was given in 2001. That has dropped to 40 percent
  • A total of 82 percent of geometry test-takers fell below mastery level in 2001. That has dropped to 45 percent

According to the Democrat-Gazette, Ken James, Arkansas’ education commissioner, attributed the improvements to the training that has been provided to Arkansas teachers through Huckabee’s Smart Start program for teachers in kindergarten through fourth grades and the Smart Step program for teachers of middle-grade students.

And don’t think Mike Huckabee is satisfied with these remarkable results. He is working right now on “Next Step,” which will continue to push Arkansas’ education successes through high school.


Mike Huckabee: Inspiration to Others

Here's an interesting tidbit. Back on July 5th, we found a blog called Rob Runs, written by "Rob" in Kansas City. Rob said Governor Mike Huckabee's personal story helped inspire him to train for the Kansas City Marathon in September. We blogged about it and provided a link to his blog here. Shortly after this, Mike Huckabee himself posted a comment on Rob's blog, saying:


A friend sent me your blog since you mentioned that my running the Little
Marathon had inspired you. That is great and made my day! Unlike you, I was NOT an athlete and until just over 2 years ago wouldn't have dreamed of running 26 yards--much less over 26 miles! My journey (chronicled in my book "Quit Digging Your Grave with a Knife and Fork") was one of losing over 100 pounds and going from couch potato to marathoner, overcoming a lifetime of bad eating habits and regaining my health. It's been the most amazing journey of my life.
Congratulations on the marathon decision! It will be one of the greatest moments in your life to cross the finish line. For me, it was a moment that was the total package of mind, body, and soul. Running the marathon was easy---the TRAINING was hard, but I followed the plan religiously and was prepared. Sounds like you're on the right path--best wishes and let me know how things turn out. Maybe we'll run in one together someday.

Running for LIFE,
Mike Huckabee, Governor of Arkansas
Little Rock
You can see Governor Huckabee's comment for yourself on the Rob Runs blog.

Now for the really interesting part. It turns out that Rob works for the Kansas City Star and has started publishing a weekly column about his training regimen. When interviewed by a Kansas City Star sports writer about the Huckabee inspiration, Rob, whose full name is Rob Perschau, said he was touched by the support of Huckabee.

"I was a little bit awed by the fact he did it, Perschau said. "I'm honored he noticed me."

We have permanently linked the Rob Runs blog under the "Get Healthy!" menu in our side bar so you can follow his story.

Note: Neither Mr. Perschau nor the Kansas City Star have endorsed Mike Huckabee or any campaign or political position of Mike Huckabee. This is a sports story. Nothing more.


Huckabee to Guatemala

Next week, according to Channel 11 news in Little Rock, Governor Mike Huckabee and Army General Don Morrow will be traveling to Guatemala. They are going there to visit a school that was built by the U.S. military in 2004 for Guatemalan children. Arkansas has a partnership program with the country. The North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce is collecting school supplies for Governor Huckabee and General Morrow to deliver to the children. The items include: pencils, pens, colored pencils, markers, and rulers. If you would like to donate or have questions, call Capt. Tracy Saucy at (501) 212-5485 or email

Thursday, July 28, 2005

New Details About Huckabee's New Hampshire Visit

We've discovered some very interesting new details about Governor Mike Huckabee's trip to New Hampshire next month:

"I don't imagine that he's extremely well-known up in this area," said Carolyn Geiler, summer events coordinator for the Strafford County Republican Committee. "This will give him an opportunity to come to new territory. He can get out here and meet the voters, talk to them and see what there political viewpoints are, what their interests are. It's just a wonderful opportunity."

The appearance comes barely a month after Huckabee assumed chairmanship of the National Governors Association at its high-profile annual meeting held in Des Moines, Iowa, where the nation's first presidential caucuses are held. Chairmanship of the NGA has served as a stepping stone for past presidential aspirants, including a former Arkansas governor, Bill Clinton.

We first told you about rumors of this trip on July 22.

Update: Political Wire has it here.


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Huckabee Says Limit Junk Food In Schools

Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, chairman of the National Governor's Association, is leading a national effort to improve health and health care in America. Today, he recommended school guidelines that limit students' access to junk food vending machines.

Childhood obesity in America has reached epidemic proportions, leading to staggering increases in the number of cases of diabetes and other preventable illnesses among children. The problem has become so severe that earlier this year Huckabee joined former president Bill Clinton in launching a 10-year campaign to reduce childhood obesity.


AP: Huckabee to New Hampshire

The Associated Press reports today (July 27) that Governor Mike Huckabee is scheduled to attend a Republican picnic in New Hampshire in late August.

We told you about it on July 22.


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Good News for Huckabee

According to Tim Saler, who also blogs for RedState, Republican Rick Santorum is officially out of the 2008 race for president. This development, says Saler, is good news for Governor Mike Huckabee because it reduces the number of competitors for the social conservative base to just two candidates (Huckabee and Senator Sam Brownback from Kansas). Furthermore, Saler adds, "Huckabee still has on his side the fact that he is a governor, and governors tend to make presidents."

Our view: Huckabee would eventually have prevailed over either senator, but such news is always good because it helps turn more eyes toward Huckabee sooner. We know that the more people who get to know Mike Huckabee, the more people who come to admire him.

Like this guy. We keep telling you Huckabee has "the gift."


Saturday, July 23, 2005

Welcome RWN Readers

Welcome to those of you visiting from RWN! Thank you to John Hawkins for the link this weekend.

In the finest of southern traditions, we invite you to come on in and make yourself at home. Kick off your shoes, grab a cup of coffee and spend a little bit of time learning more about Governor Mike Huckabee and why we think he will make a wonderful POTUS.

After you've checked out our most recent posts, we recommend you move over to the Information Center in the sidebar.

Again, welcome to our blog.


Friday, July 22, 2005

Huckabee to New Hampshire

We've received a tip from a reliable friend that Gov. Mike Huckabee is planning to visit New Hampshire over the weekend of August 27, during the important Strafford County Republican Picnic. Fresh off of a weekend in Iowa, where he took over as chairman of the National Governor's Association, Huckabee's trip to New Hampshire is the clearest signal yet that he is running for president.

An Open Invitation To "Pro-Life Democrats"

First, let me say welcome to you. Whatever party you consider yourself a member of, if you are pro-life you are a friend to us.

Chances are, you found this blog because you were looking for information about pro-life Democrats as the Democratic party does some soul-searching about its platform position on this critical issue.

Clearly, the Democratic party is at a crossroads. Realizing that the pro-choice stance of their platform is costing them elections (and more importantly the Supreme Court) the national party is reaching out to "pro-life democrats."

Unfortunately for genuine pro-life Democrats, the authenticity of the party's overtures may be in serious doubt. Considering that vast amounts of the Democratic party's funding comes from places like the ACLU, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, People for the American Way and the Freedom from Religion Foundation it remains unlikely these organizations are going to let the party nominate a pro-life candidate.

That is why we offer you, as a pro-lifer, an open invitation to join us here at Mike Huckabee President 2008. Mike Huckabee, one of the longest-serving Governors in the country, was elected twice in heavily Democratic Arkansas and has consistently maintained very high approval ratings -- remarkable considering he is a Republican (just the second Republican Governor in Arkansas since reconstruction).

Why do Arkansas' Democrats support Mike Huckabee so overwhelmingly? Simple.

Most Democrats in Arkansas, like elsewhere, do not subscribe to the most liberal tenets of their party's platform. They are good Christian folks who support things like stong family values and looking out for the most vulnerable people in our society, including the unborn.

That is who Mike Huckabee is, too. A former Baptist minister, Mike Huckabee is strongly pro-life. And as a person who grew up in a blue collar (he joking says 'no collar') family in Hope, Arkansas (yes, THAT Hope) he maintains truly compassionate stances on other issues important to you. Things like immigration reform, education reform, Medicaid reform, and social programs.

If the Democratic party listens to you and nominates a pro-life candidate for President, by all means support that candidate. But if they don't, please consider supporting Mike Huckabee for President in 2008.

You are welcome here.



Huckabee to Japan

Governor Mike Huckabee will return to Japan in September to recruit more automotive business to Arkansas. Last year, Huckabee went to Japan to meet with Toyota motor company executives after they selected San Antonio, Texas over Arkansas for a new truck plant. He came home predicting a "big announcement" would soon follow. Weeks later Hino Motors, a Toyota subsidiary, announced they would place a new parts plant in Arkansas.

Mike Huckabee delivers.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

David Broder: Huckabee 'Most Intriguing' Candidate

After attending the recent National Governor's Association meeting in Des Moines, Iowa and meeting 30-some-odd governors, many of whom are projected as candidates for president in 2008, David Broder did the same thing everyone else who gets to know Mike Huckabee does.

Broder loved him.

So much so that he published this column today, titled "The Next Man From Hope?" In the column, Broder says that of all the candidates present at the meeting, "the most intriguing" was none other than republican Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who is from the same small town Bill Clinton made famous with his "I still believe in a place called Hope" speech.

And that was the most reserved statement in the column. We wish to point out to you, by the way, that Broder did not say Huckabee was the most intriguing republican candidate. He said Huckabee was the most intriguing candidate period.

After that, Broder practically gushes with enthusiasm. But before you get down on Broder, you must realize that Mike Huckabee has this kind of affect on virtually everyone he meets. He is gifted in this area and it is his most valuable asset as a leader.

Continuing with Broder's column:
"Now 49, he is part of a bewildering variety of networks. A preacher for 12
years, he headed the Arkansas Baptist State Convention before being elected lieutenant governor and succeeding the scandal-tainted Jim Guy Tucker as governor in 1996. But at 1 a.m. last Sunday, he could be found wearing a Hawaiian shirt, playing bass guitar and leading his rock band of fellow Arkansans, called Capitol Offense, at the NGA staff party in Raccoon River Brewing Co., a downtown beer hall. The band has played from Hollywood to New York as the opening act for such stars as Aretha Franklin, making Huckabee comfortable chatting with everyone from devout Baptist elders to tattooed rock 'n' rollers.

As if that weren't enough, the self-described onetime "fat boy" is someone who, confronted with diabetes, put himself on a medically supervised diet in 2003, shed 110 pounds and emerged fit enough to finish this year's Little Rock Marathon. He describes his experience in the book "Quit Digging Your Grave With a Knife and Fork," and he has carried his zeal for healthy living into a variety of public programs. He put all of Arkansas's tobacco settlement money into expanding medical insurance for young people and offered $20-a-month bonuses to state employees who volunteered for regular checkups and healthy regimens.

As NGA chairman, he plans to expand such programs to other
, an essential step, he says, not only for public health but also to curb the ever rising costs resulting from obesity and chronic illnesses.

Largely devoid of foreign policy experience, Huckabee forecasts that the 2008 election will turn on concerns about schools, health care and jobs. He identifies himself as an outsider who shares the public impatience with "a polarized Washington that is a paralyzed Washington." He touts his personal friendship with Clinton, Vilsack, Warner and other Democrats and his ability to work with a Democratic legislature at home.

Which raises an interesting question: Huckabee calls himself "deeply conservative" and "strongly pro-life." This year he and his wife led hundreds of other couples in a televised marriage recommitment ceremony. And yet he tells interviewers that he thinks the term "culture wars" is an exaggeration because "the country is not nearly as polarized as the discussion is."

Armed with a self-mocking sense of humor, he says his own rock 'n' roll
Baptist preacher identity is "a personality dichotomy I can't explain." But the official biography his staff distributed here omits any reference to what he calls a "very important part of my life," his years in the ministry, and he consciously tries to suggest he is no hard-liner on the most divisive social issues.

Asked if he thought it possible to outlaw abortion in America, he answered, "At this time, probably not," and then outlined various restrictions he has sponsored in Arkansas. Then he deftly suggested an analogy to the struggle against segregation. "The great example," he said, "is Martin Luther King. He had a dream, not a deadline. He knew you can't change a culture overnight. He was thinking about the next generation, not the next election. And that's the kind of leadership the country is looking for now."

By most reckonings, Huckabee is a presidential long shot. But the other day, he got an unsolicited phone call from Harry Thomason, the friend of Clinton's who made the president's campaign biography film, celebrating the Arkansas home town Clinton and Huckabee share. "I want you to know," Thomason told Huckabee, "I've already got a working title -- 'Another Man From Hope.' "

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Huckabee Launches Healthy America PAC


Political Moneyline reports this today:

New 527 Filings
7/19/2005 11:04:09 AM

Huckabee's Healthy Start: Healthy America Political Action Committee was registered as a Section 527 organization to "Support non-federal candidates for office." It will only report in Virginia. Officers include Richard Caldwell (chairman), W. Bruce Potter (president), Dr. Lester Sitzes, III, (secretary), and Raye Brady (treasurer). This appears to be a non-federal account of Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Huckabee was just selected chairman of the National Governors Assn. and announced a new initiative, "Healthy America: Wellness Where We Live, Work, and Learn."

More info to come as we get it.

Update: While researching this further, we stumbled upon Under the Influence, "a real-time investigative project on political interests in Washington," by Bill Allison. Allison also noticed the Huckabee PAC announcement and adroitly points out the following:

"The Bipartisan Campaign Finance Act, better known as McCain Feingold, barred federal elected officials from having 527s -- both John Kerry and John Edwards, for example, had to give up their 527s when BCRA took effect after the November 2002 election. But state candidates -- who are not regulated by the Federal Election Commission -- can have 527s, which can raise money in unlimited amounts from any source (individuals, corporations or labor unions) and can use that money to generously donate to state level politicians and state parties in places like Iowa* and New Hampshire * (see here for state rules on accepting campaign contributions). Once a governor throws his hat into the presidential ring, he'd have to give up the 527, of course, but not necessarily the good will it had bought him in early primary states."

Nice job, Mr. Allison.

Update 7/22: When asked on Wednesday by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette why he formed this PAC, Huckabee, who has had a state PAC for several years, said:

"I found I was unable to use it [the state PAC] to support fellow Republicans in governors’ races across the country."


*Note: The links to our blog in this quote were inserted by us, not by Mr. Allison.

Special thanks to Arkansas Times' Daily Blog for directing traffic our way today, causing us to visit it, where we found the link to the original Political Moneyline story (credit where credit is due).

Huckabee in the News

An AP wire story about Gov. Huckabee's Healthy America initiative is making the rounds. Sampling below:

ABC News
WJLA TV - Washington, DC
New York Newsday
Las Vegas Sun
Herald Sun - Durham, NC
Kansas City Star
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Times Leader - Wilkes Barre, PA
News-Sentinel - Ft. Wayne, IN

Weight Loss Book by Governor Mike Huckabee

Welcome new visitors! If you are looking for information about Quit Digging Your Grave With a Knife and Fork by Governor Mike Huckabee, you can order your copy here!

We hope you will stick around to learn more about Governor Huckabee, his amazing personal story and what he can do for America.

Note to regular readers: Our stats show that a rising number of visitors are finding this blog by searching with keywords involving the Governor's new book. To accomodate these new visitors over the next few weeks, we will be posting the information above on a regular basis. Just scroll on past it to find the new stuff you're looking for.


Posted by Hello

Reporter Says Huckabee "Loaded" For White House Run

Jack Mosely, writing for the Arkansas News Bureau, echoes many of the points we've made here for months in this piece about Mike Huckabee's qualifications for the presidency. The fact that members of the Arkansas news media, who know Huckabee best, believe he is well-positioned for a White House run is not surprising. The fawning national media continues to write stories about "front runners" (McCain, Giuliani, etc.) who cannot possibly win the GOP nomination because they realy don't know any of the nation's governors well enough to write about them. We maintain that, once people get to know him, Huckabee will rapidly rise to the top as the most obvious choice.

Why? Consider these reasons, detailed by Mosely:

  • Right now, Huckabee is better positioned for a White House run than Bill Clinton was in 1991
  • He has a "better-than-average" track record on the issues conservative Americans want addressed
  • On healthcare, his ARKids First children's insurance plan was the most successful program of its type in the nation, delivering care to tens of thousands of previously uninsured Arkansas children
  • Unlike other states, Huckabee fought the legislature and forced, through public ballot, Arkansas to spend its entire tobacco settlement on health care improvements for Arkansans, which is now paying big dividends
  • He took a leadership role on infrastructure, again going directly to the people with a special election to secure a bond issue of over $1 billion to repair Arkansas crumbling roadways. In just over five years, Arkansas has gone from having the worst roads in America to having among the best
  • He has a clear and documented record for improving public education
  • He is an avid outdoorsman, hunter and fisherman and is a member of the NRA
  • He is a former Baptist minister, which will appeal to the more than 14 million Baptists in American, not to mention tens of millions more people of other Christian denominations
  • Next weekend he assumes the powerful national bully pulpit of chairman of the National Governor's Association
  • He is a real compassionate conservative--not just a politician who claims to be during elections
  • Much like Clinton, he is an extremely gifted "people person" who speaks well, connects easily with people, and is instantly likeable by those who meet him

Stay tuned for reports about the NGA meeting this weekend.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Huckabee Makes Another '08 List

Political Derby added Governor Mike Huckabee to their 2008 power rankings for the first time today. Entering Huckabee into the list at number 8 with an "up" arrow, Political Derby says:

"Hard to imagine we could ever elect a president from such a small state as Arkansas, right? Huckabee is generating loads of attention in chat rooms and message boards and is rising fast. His biggest hurdle is name ID. His biggest asset is having more than enough time to overcome that."

Huckabee appears behind Condi Rice, who isn't running, and ahead of Tom Tancredo, who can't win.


Monday, July 18, 2005

Meet the Chairman

Governor Mike Huckabee became the new chairman of the National Governor's Association today at the conclusion of the organization's annual meeting in Iowa.

Upon accepting the chairmanship, Huckabee announced his "Chairman's Initiative," which, for the next year, will focus on the urgent need for Americans of all ages to live healthier, more active lives. Under Gov. Huckabee's initiative, Healthy America: Wellness Where We Live, Work and Learn, NGA will raise national awareness while highlighting simple yet specific behavioral and lifestyle changes necessary for sustainable long-term health for children, teenagers, adults and seniors.

These include:

  • convening national health and wellness experts, researchers and practitioners to lay out the problem and discuss solution for obesity prevention and wellness promotion;
  • holding workshops for state officials to examine state best practices, including public-private partnerships, and providing state teams with tools and ideas for implementing programs in their states;
  • conducting site visits to innovative businesses and state and local programs that are successfully implementing relevant best practices;
  • exploring opportunities for modernizing and improving relevant state programs, including Medicaid, Food Stamps and child care, to ensure they promote and reward healthy behaviors and have measurable impacts;
  • providing online toolkits and Web sites to offer families and policymakers, alike, useful ideas and information about healthy living;
  • assisting states develop programs to reverse the national epidemic of childhood obesity; and urging every governor to implement state employee health initiatives as models for the public and private sectors.

"The facts are simple," Huckabee said. "More than a quarter of all American adults are physically inactive and 65 percent are overweight. We must change this dangerous trend, otherwise our unhealthy lifestyle will doom an entire generation of young people." Gov. Huckabee speaks with credibility on this issue, he himself losing 110 pounds in the last two years since being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. "My initiative is about more than ridding ourselves of a few extra pounds; it's about embracing a new, healthier lifestyle. It's about building a culture of physical activity, prevention and wellness in the United States."

Outgoing chairman Governor Mark Warner said "Mike Huckabee has been a great partner and friend at the NGA, and will continue to be an articulate and credible voice for the nation's governors in his term as chairman. ...The focus [he] will bring to healthier lifestyles is needed across this country, and is an appropriate complement to our efforts to reform and save Medicaid."

News & Views: July 18, 2005

Today Mike Huckbee becomes chairman of the National Governor's Association, which everyone agrees will give him a powerful bully pulpit for building awareness heading into 2008. Look for more news about this later today.

Representative Tom Tancredo (CO), who some think will run for president in 2008, is shaping up to be the Republicans' answer to Howard Dean. He's an extremist on immigration and now he has really put his foot in it by advocating that we nuke Mecca if we are ever attacked by terrorists with a nuclear device. This was a very irresponsible and and dangerous statement for a representative of the American people to make.

Speaking of Tancredo, now would be a good time to head over the 2008 Political Perspective and vote for Mike Huckabee in the online poll there.

The Economist, by way of Political Wire, manages to offend everyone from Arkansas and any other small state in a single statement, saying "the mere fact that the Governor of a small state is dipping his toe in these deep waters shows how open the republican race is." The magazine also claims Huckabee is "no Bill Clinton." We agree. If he were anything like Bill Clinton this blog would not exist.

Huckabee ranks third this week in Tim Saler's weekly roundup. Ryan James has the details here.

More to come. Check back often!


Sunday, July 17, 2005

Huckabee Talks Presidency, Says Listen to Iowans


The Washington Times published a story today titled "Governors gather but talk presidency" which reports that Governor Mike Huckabee, who is attending the National Governor's Association meeting in Iowa (where he will become the organization's new chairman on Monday), met with reporters yesterday and voiced support for Iowa's role as the first presidential caucus.

CNN details Huckabee's remarks:
"It's very refreshing that, in order for a person to seek the highest job in the land, they have to listen to people out in middle America. Candidates are forced to go out to small groups of people, actually go out to people's homes to a farm in rural Iowa and sit down. Instead of making a speech they have to listen. They have to listen and it's more about what they hear than it is what they say."


Saturday, July 16, 2005

Huckabee On Becoming NGA Chairman


Governor Mike Huckabee became the new chairman of the National Governor's Association at the organization's annual meeting this weekend. Before leaving to attend the meeting, he wrote the following column (you can read it in it's original form here).

Governor Huckabee's
News Column
July 16, 2005

I'm extremely honored to have been selected by my colleagues across the country as the chairman of the National Governors Association. I will lead the NGA for the next year and represent the positions of the nation's governors to the White House, Congress, the media and people nationwide. It's a heavy responsibility, but it's one I feel prepared to take on after nine years as governor. It gives me a platform to talk about the good things we're doing here in Arkansas and provides countless opportunities to learn of best practices in other states.

Each NGA chairman is asked to come up with a theme for the year ahead. Due to the tremendous success of the Healthy Arkansas initiative, I've decided to expand that concept to a Healthy America initiative. That's because poor eating habits, a lack of exercise and too much smoking are problems in all 50 states.

"I believe that deep down, most Americans want to make a change in their lifestyles. We just need to show them how to implement those changes and then offer some incentives for doing so."
Almost 600,000 Americans die prematurely each year due to chronic diseases they could have been prevented with lifestyle changes. Many diseases affecting millions of Americans are preventable. Our unhealthy lifestyles are dooming an entire generation. More than a quarter of American adults are physically inactive and 65 percent are overweight. We can and must change this dangerous trend not only in Arkansas but also nationwide.

Like millions of Americans, I grew up on fried foods. There was fried chicken, fried catfish, fried okra, fried squash, fried green tomatoes, chicken fried steak, fried potatoes, fried onions and on and on. These deeply battered foods helped my working-class parents stretch the family budget. But the diet also stretched my waistline. As I grew older, the problems only became worse. I finally woke up after being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

The Healthy Arkansas initiative has been about more than convincing people to shed a few pounds. We're trying to get Arkansans to embrace a healthier lifestyle. This is not about a diet. It's about changing the way you live for the rest of your life. Now, we'll take that campaign nationwide.

"The more we spend on sick Americans, the less we can spend on educating children, fighting crime and other priorities."
Our society has become sedentary. This country's culture of inactivity and overeating especially poses dangers for young people. The consequences of inaction are dire. We've focused too much on treating diseases. We need to shift that focus to preventing chronic diseases from occurring in the first place. Frankly, it's one of the most important public policy decisions we can make in this country. There are numerous changes we can make in our homes, workplaces and schools. Don't get me wrong. I don't believe we can simply regulate our way out of this obesity crisis. But there are things government can do. It can help educate families about healthy habits. It can offer students healthy options at school. Elected officials from the municipal level to the federal level can use their bully pulpits to point out that we're raising a generation of overweight, inactive, unhealthy children.

"We've focused too much on treating diseases. We need to shift that focus to preventing chronic diseases from occuring in the first place."
This isn't a problem we're going to solve in the next year. In fact, it isn't a problem we're going to completely solve in the next decade. But health care costs will continue to consume more of public and private budgets if we don't start making major changes now. The more we spend on sick Americans, the less we can spend on educating children, fighting crime and other priorities. The time for change is now. By forming partnerships between the public and private sectors across America, we can begin to turn things around. I believe that deep down, most Americans want to make changes in their lifestyles. We just need to show them how to implement those changes and then offer some incentives for doing so.

Update: A brochure about Huckabee's Healthy America Initiative is now available on the NGA website. You can view it here.


Things Have Definitely Changed

We've noticed a very distinct change in traffic to our blog over the last eight weeks or so. Prior to that time our keyword analysis showed that, among visitors finding us through search engines, most (about 70%) were looking for information about Huckabee's new book (Quit Digging Your Grave With a Knife and Fork). The most-used key words were "Huckabee book," Huckabee weight loss," Huckabee diet," and things of that nature.

That has now completely changed. As of last week, over 90% of the visitors finding the blog through search engines are doing so using key words related to the 2008 election. The three most-used keywords now are "Huckabee for president", Huckabee president" and Mike Huckabee 2008".

Not very scientific, but interesting nonetheless.


Thursday, July 14, 2005

Huckabee Blog In National Review

Welcome National Journal readers! Come on in and make yourselves at home. For those of you not familiar with Mike Huckabee, please take a tour through the Information Center in our sidebar.

We noticed a bunch of hits coming in from NR today. Turns out our blog is mentioned and linked in this article by Eric Pfeiffer called "Bringing Back the Draft" (as in drafting a candidate to run for president).

A disclaimer before you read the article: Unlike some of the other blogs we are flatteringly lumped with in this article, we are neither well-organized nor well-funded.

We are not even poorly-funded.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Huckabee's Arkansas Commended For Education Program

According to the Rocky Mountain Telegram, the state of Arkansas, under Governor Mike Huckabee, is commended for being one of the few states to successfully implement an all-day Kindergarten program. The program improves enrichment, academic and social benefits, especially to lower-income students.

Huckabee, who was attending a commission meeting in Denver, said the opportunity to compare Arkansas' programs with others is beneficial.

"One of the values of being involved in national policy organizations is to compare how we are doing next to other states, and this is another example of our being a leader," he said.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Other Bloggers On Mike Huckabee (Plus Bonus Interview With BSR)

We're pleased to see that National Journal has launched The Hotline, a daily briefing on politics called the "blogometer". The intent is to "take the daily temperature of the blogosphere." It is pretty informative and will become one of our daily stops (we've linked it for you under the 2008 Campaign Links menu).

We're also pleased to note that today's issue contains a link to our blog under the headline "White House 08: This blog hearts Huckabees". Check it out.

We see that they also have a section called "Blogger Spotlight" where they interview "well-known" bloggers (today it's Hugh Hewitt). I wonder if they would ever consider interviewing not-so-well-known bloggers like us? If so, it might go something like this:

What is your full name?

Blue Staterepublican

Is that your real name?

What is your age?

Where did you grow up?
A tiny town in Arkansas.

Where do you live now?
A blue state.

What is your occupation?
I'd rather not say.

Why not?
I can't afford to get fired over my political views.

Have you ever worked on a political campaign or for the mainstream media?
I wouldn't call political campaigns "work" and I ain't edumacated enough for the MSM.

When did you start blogging and why?
I began blogging in March 2005, I think, after a friend asked me to help him with the Mike Huckabee President 2008 blog. He started it because he's a big fan of Governor Huckabee's, but it got out of hand pretty quickly and he didn't feel like he could keep up with it and do it justice. He knew I was a Huckabee fan also, so here I am. I find it fun, but it is also a LOT of work. There's a real mission behind what we're doing. America needs Mike Huckabee. We sincerely believe that.

What trouble was your friend having?
He launched the blog thinking he would have plenty of time to get some good info posted before anybody started finding out about it but the Little Rock media got wind of it and published the address. All of the sudden he was getting all this traffic but there was nothing for people to read, so they started flaming him with comments. It was pretty funny, actually. He's got a real job, so he didn't have time to jam out a bunch of quality stuff or monitor the comments so he called me.

Do you not have a "real job"?
I sometimes ask myself that question.

Why did you eliminate comments? Aren't they important?
Yes, they are. But the first thing I did when I came on board was cut them out. It was a time issue. Governor Huckabee is a good Christian man and we just could not tolerate having comments containing profanity on the blog, but that meant nearly constant monitoring. Then every time I deleted a comment with the word #@&% I got three more comments from the guy demanding to know why I deleted his #@&%ing comment.

Will you allow comments again in the future?
We're talking about ways to do that. Most of the people who commented before were good folks. There were just a few haters and dimwits, mostly from the liberal Arkansas Times blog, who ruined it for everyone. Later on, if the Huckabee candidacy becomes a reality, supporters will want and need a place to gather and talk.

Describe your typical blogging schedule. And what is your average output?
I have no typical schedule. I do most of my blogging in the evenings, with FOX news on in the background. I read all of the usual MSM news plus all of the blogs in our blogroll. Then I'll make a few notes and fire an e-mail to my friend to see what he thinks. We hash over some ideas and then usually I'll get to work on one of the longer blogs I do. Sometimes I post it that evening, sometimes not. I usually get in bed by midnight and up again by 6 AM. I'll take my electric razor upstairs after I shower and I'll shave while I do a quick perusal of the blogosphere for Huckabee stuff. Sometimes I blog then, sometimes not. Then I usually skip lunch at work and do it again over lunch hour. Sometimes I blog then, sometimes not. And yes, my output is generally pretty average.

No, no. What is your average output?

Never mind. Do you blog when you are supposed to be working?
Reading blogs or writing blogs?

Oh, no. Of course not.

So you read blogs when you should be working.
I didn't say that.

Who is your favorite political blogger?
I don't really have a favorite political blogger, but there a few I really admire. Frank Meyers, Mark Coffey, Ryan James, Justin Ready, Bob Hoffman, Hugh Hewitt, John Hawkins, Taegan Goddard...all these guys really helped us out early on. Lately a couple of others have gotten our attention. Tim Saler (who also writes for RedState) and The Uncompassionate Conservative are really good.

Favorite non-political blogger?
Are there any?

Who is your favorite mainstream media columnist?
They all tick me off at one time or another.

What is your favorite television news program, either network or cable?
The Daily Show, hands down.

What MSM-produced websites (i.e. newspapers, magazines) do you visit on a daily basis?
One of the first places I go each day is Real Clear Politics. From there, I can find pretty much any MSM-produced goop I'm interested in. I've also recently discovered that Patrick Ruffini's 2008 Presidential Wire is a good resource.

How often, or do you ever, read a newspaper in its dead-tree (i.e. print) form?
I read the WSJ in paper form, but only because it already comes to my office.

How do you see the new media and old media affecting and influencing each other in the next five years?
Over the next five years, I expect new media will go a long way toward helping keep old media hacks honest. Blog readership will explode, particularly political and candidate blogs, in the run-up to the first open presidential election since blogging was invented. Old media will continue to dominate for the next five years, of course, but as the younger, tech-savvy generations come online, politically speaking, look out. Oh, one more thing. Blogs will be far more entertaining and MSM journalists will be insanely jealous.


Monday, July 11, 2005

Huckabee Avoids Ruling Out White House Bid

Ron Breeding of National Public Radio's Little Rock affiliate aired a report today (listen here) detailing a week full of national exposure for Gov. Mike Huckabee. Dubbed a "coming out week" for Huckabee, the report details a week in which the Governor assumes the top post in two national organizations.

At the moment, Huckabee is chairing the Education Commission of the States annual meeting in Denver. Then on Friday he travels to Iowa where he will become chairman of the National Governor's Association.

"Both conventions give Huckabee a chance to shine in the national spotlight," Breeding says, "spawning speculation that he might use the high profile positions as a springboard to a White House run." Breeding notes that while Huckabee downplays the possibility, he "carefully avoids ruling out any such campaign."

Mike Huckabee Heads For Iowa

The nation's governors head for Iowa this week for the National Governor's Association meeting which, according to former Iowa Governor Terry Brandstad, will be even more focused on the presidential election than previous conferences. Due to a "perfect storm" of coincidences (this is the first time the meeting has ever been hosted by Iowa, the first presidential caucus state, at the same time an open presidential election looms on the horizon) hundreds or reports will be in attendance, trailing governors who are being looked at by their parties as potential contenders.

Mike Huckabee, governor of Arkansas, will take over as chairman of the NGA at the meeting.

We Told You This Was Going To Happen

We told you way back on April 11 that we suspected Democrats would put a full court press on trying to break the Republicans' stronghold on the block of southern states. Now the MSM has begun to talk about it, too.

According to the Winston-Salem Journal, national Democratic leaders are looking for candidates who connect with NASCAR fans, "talk differently" about abortion, and like to watch King of the Hill.

The Democrats cannot win the White House without peeling off at least a couple of southern states in 2008 and they know it. They admit they have written off the south in recent elections but claim they see opportunity there now because Republicans "take it for granted," says Steve Jarding, a Democratic strategist.

If the Democrats truly focus their efforts on the south and nominate a candidate who can connect with southerners, Republicans have no option but to "out-Southern" them. And, as readers of this blog know, there is only one Republican candidate who can keep the south together in the face of a Democratic threat to the region.


Special thanks to Taegan Goddard's Political Wire for the Radar Online link.

Other Bloggers On Mike Huckabee

The Uncompassionate Conservative has a must-read post on Mike Huckabee and the importance of character. You can find it here.

Many thanks to you, UC.

Our friend Ryan James at blogs his thoughts about some recent Huckabee opinions published by Arkansas-based columnists.

Ryan, your thoughts are always appreciated!


Sunday, July 10, 2005

Sunday Kick in the Pants: July 10, 2005

Good morning. Its time for another installment of Sunday Kick in the Pants, our (semi) weekly suggestion of ideas for getting up, getting out and getting some excercise. Governor Mike Huckabee, America's new health spokesperson, set a positive example for all of us when he decided to take control of his own health by completely changing his lifestyle and eating habits.

He successfully lost over 100 pounds, reversed Type II diabetes, trained for and completed a marathon, and was named "Athlete of the Week" by USA Track & Field.

Huckabee also created a program to help his state get healthier, wrote a best-selling book about how he changed his own health, and will soon take over as chairman of the National Governor's Association where he will work to help all of America address its health and health care crisis.

It's July and that means that it is really, really hot outside in most places in America. If you have not already begun to get yourself into shape, now is not a good time to throw on some running shoes and take off on a run.

But did you know that there are many ways to get some excercise and burn some calories without running in the hot July sun? And you don't even have to go out and spend a lot of money on treadmills or exercise bikes.

How, you ask?

You know how fat seems to creep up on you? How you can diet and starve yourself to lose 15 pounds and then all of the sudden one day you step on the scales and you've gained it all back (plus a little more, maybe)? Well, fat will come off of you the same way. IF you change your diet to eat a little bit healthier and do some things to burn just a few more calories each day, you will lose weight over time.

You might not make a dramatic change in your appearance in a few weeks like crash dieters, but you will step on the scale one day and be pleasantly surprised (how's that for a change?). Not only that, but by making these changes over a long period of time you will create new diet and activity habits that will change your life and your body for good. You will be thin and healthy while those crash dieters you envy are fat again (and again and again).

Here are two great websites we've found to help you (these will be permanently linked under our "Get Healthy" menu in the sidebar).

STEP 1: Go to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's "My Pyramid" website. Enter your age, sex and approximate amount of daily exercise and in just one click you'll have a new diet plan recommendation that you can print out. As you begin to exercise more, you can easily revise your diet plan here as well.

STEP 2: Here's the fun part. Go to this link at Free Calorie Counter. Here you can figure out how many calories you can burn with just about any activity, even activities you would never even think of as exercise. Take a look at what you do every day, even things you enjoy doing, and see how many calories they burn. You'll get plenty of ideas for things you want to do more of, and things you could do just a little bit differently each day to burn just a few extra calories. It all adds up and it all equals weight loss (IF you don't eat Twinkies -- stick to the My Pyramid diet recommendation).

So there you go. You can start right now. Right this minute.

Have a great Sunday. See you back here next week.


Note: Make sure you follow the advice given on the My Pyramid and Calorie Counter websites. They were created by professionals.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

SCOTUS Breaking News

The retirement of Justice O'Connor and the increasing rumors surrounding the possible retirement of Chief Justice Rehnquist are fueling intense interest among activists and interested citizens. Conservatives see this scenario, if it happens, as an opportunity to move the third branch of our government to the right for decades to come. The filibuster deal will be sorely tested and the nuclear option will be back on the table.

It is great political theatre, but also of critical importance to the conservative agenda. Therefore, we've created a new SCOTUS Breaking News menu in our sidebar with links to the best breaking news sites we can find. Make it a daily stop and drop us an e-mail with other sites you would like to see linked here.

Let the games begin.


Friday, July 08, 2005

Krugman Agrees With Huckabee

We don't often agree with the New York Times' Paul Krugman but he hits the mark today with his column titled "Free to Choose Obesity"? In it he argues in favor of some government effort to stop the obesity epidemic in America that costs taxpayers more than the war on terror and, more importantly, threatens the health and lives of an entire generation of children.

"Government intervention" is a touchy subject, especially for people who believe in things like states' rights and personal liberty, but that is not what we are talking about here. No one is arguing that junk food should be made illegal, nor should there be a "fat tax."

Governor Mike Huckabee has stated many times that, while obesity is a national crisis and something must be done to stop it, the government should not take on the role of "grease police" or "sugar sheriff." Huckabee has, in fact, argued that doing so would be counterproductive.

"I have embarked on a mission to challenge the faulty thinking of our current system that could result in a complete change in the paradigm of health care in America."
Nor does Huckabee wish to demonize the food industry. "I've met with executives from some of the nation's largest food companies," he says. "I can assure you that these companies are not focused on making people fat. They're focused on making money. If they don't turn a profit, stockholders will demand that the board fire the executive management team. There will be layoffs. Pension plans will collapse. The answer is simply not increased legislation. The answer is to change the market demand among American consumers."

But how can that be accomplished without government regulation? The way to do it, Huckabee says, is not to punish people for making the wrong health choices, but to reward them making the right ones.
"The answer is to change the market demand among American consumers."
He's doing this in Arkansas with his innovative Healthy Arkansas initiative. Under this program, state employees are rewarded with health insurance discounts when they complete health self-assessments. They are also allowed exercise breaks, rather than smoke breaks. "If we allow some people to take years off their lives with smoke breaks, the least we can do is allow others to add years to their lives with exercise breaks," he said. The hope is that private businesses and health insurance companies will recognize the success of this plan and begin to implement similar measures for their own employees and customers.
"If we allow some people to take years off their lives with smoke breaks, the least we can do is allow others to add years to their lives with exercise breaks."
The Healthy Arkansas initiative has been very successful and popular among Arkansas' state employees and it has also become a much-studied and much-copied national model. Soon, Americans will hear much more about it. Huckabee, who becomes chairman of the National Governor's Association next week, plans to roll out his ideas for a "Healthy America" version of this plan.

No one is better qualified to lead the nation into this effort. Governor Huckabee speaks with authority and credibility on the issue of obesity and positive health choices, himself having an incredible personal story of losing over 100 pounds, reversing Type II diabetes, completing the Little Rock marathon, and being named "Athlete of the Week" in the space of two years.

"I have embarked on a mission to challenge the faulty thinking of our current system that could result in a complete change in the paradigm of health care in America," he said.


Thursday, July 07, 2005

Mike Huckabee's "Healthy Arkansas" Gains National Attention

Here's a link to Governor Mike Huckabee's weekly news column from July 2, 2005. It sheds light on what may become part of the "Healthy America" program he plans to roll out as chairman of the National Governor's Association.



News & Views: July 7, 2005

Sorry about the lack of really thoughtful postings yesterday. Very busy at work right now, so here are a few quick "News & Views" items for you. We'll be monitoring the NGA meeting this weekend, where Huckabee takes over as Chairman, and will provide full details for you next week.

Huckabee news:

Justin Ready at 2008 Political Perspective blogs about Mike Huckabee's recent speech to the League of United Latin American Citizens national conference in Little Rock. While you're there, go ahead and vote in Justin's candidate preference poll.

Tim Saler keeps Huckabee in the number 1 position in his weekly GOP candidate poll this week.

Victory! GOP Bloggers has finally added us to their blogroll (but they are still yet to respond to our e-mails).

Terror news:

As you might guess, the tragic London bombings dominate much of the blogosphere this morning. Here are a few our favorite news sources:

RedState reports on the London bombings, with an open thread for your thoughts. And The Political Teen video blog is your resource for the latest MSM news.

Michelle Malkin, as always, provides a comprehensive round-up.

SCOTUS news:

Another dominant news item in the blogosphere, clearly.

The Uncompassionate Conservative's very insightful blog has become a regular read for us. He doesn't post often, but what you get is worth the wait. Here's his latest, on "Judicial Tyranny."

From Political Gateway, this lefty opinion piece gives a glimpse into how they are thinking about the looming filibuster battle.

As the rumors circulate with seemingly increasing credibility that yet another SCOTUS retirement is imminent, lefty Terry Turner more or less buries his head in the sand.

Right Wing News reports that the left approves of Gonzales for the Supreme Court, which should be enought to tell you that he's not right for the right.

There may be something to this: Are liberals aborting themselves into oblivion?

More to come. Check back often!


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Mike Huckabee: Inspiration to Others

Here's a blog started by a gentleman in Kansas City named "RJ" who says Gov. Mike Huckabee's personal story inspired him to train for the Kansas City marathon coming up in September.

Congratulations and good luck, RJ. We'll be checking in on your progress!


Mike Huckabee to Begin Rolling Out "Healthy America" Plan

Welcome back from a great holiday. The following excerpts are taken from an article by Rob Moritz, Arkansas News Bureau, July 4, 2005.

Gov. Mike Huckabee will be elected chariman of the National Governor's Association in Des Moines, Iowa at the NGA's national meeting which begins July 15 and wraps up July 18. The office will add to Huckabee's national resume that already includes a best-selling book and an attention-getting weight loss campaign.

"In terms of visibility, a lot of people around the country probably don't know who he is, but he is certainly now getting a lot of publicity, and as chairman of the NGA will get a great deal more," said Art English, a political science professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

"Things seem to be falling together very nicely for Gov. Huckabee."
"Things seem to be falling together very nicely for Gov. Huckabee," English said. The political science professor and others also can't help but note the similarities between Huckabee, who grew up in Hope, and another Arkansas governor, Bill Clinton, who also grew up in Hope, was chairman of the NGA in 1986-87 and then was elected president in 1992.

"I think it would be fair to say that the waters are being tested at this point," English speculated about Huckabee's interest in running for president in 2008. "He's trying to see what kind of response he's going to get."

The governor, however, is evasive when asked about any future political aspirations - he can't seek re-election in 2008 because he is term limited - and he says all his energy is focused on his last year-and-a-half in office and his upcoming year as chairman of the NGA. "I've been in line to be NGA chair for the last four years so this is a natural progression of something that really started four years ago," he said last week. "It's more a fascination with the Beltway crowd, trying to speculate something that's going to happen in three years."

He said he is "flattered" that his name is being mentioned as a potential candidate for president "but they seem to be more focused on it than I am right now."

Tim Saler, a Philadelphia freelancer who writes for the conservative online publication, said Huckabee's new weight-loss book, "Quit Digging Your Grave With a Knife and Fork," has garnered a great deal of national publicity, including trips to New York City and other areas of the country where the national media is headquartered. Also, because there will be no incumbent seeking the presidency in 2008, the race appears to be wide open and any elevated national media coverage, such as NGA chairman, automatically puts your name out there for conversation. Saler named Huckabee the Republican Party's top presidential contender last week in an article on

English said the chairmanship of NGA will bring a lot of national attention to Huckabee. "Certainly being chairman of the National Governors Association is a big deal," English said.

"He'll be a spokesperson for a very important group in Washington D.C."

"He'll obviously be a spokesperson for a very important group in Washington D.C., a group that represents the states."

Huckabee said his key initiative as chairman of the NGA over the coming year will be transforming the Healthy Arkansas initiative into a nationwide Healthy America campaign. His goal is to develop a national plan to prevent obesity and other chronic diseases and to provide incentives for Americans to practice healthier habits. Health care, the rising cost of Medicaid and transportation also will be on the agenda.

Stay tuned for further updates and reports!


Friday, July 01, 2005

Other Bloggers on Mike Huckabee

John Hawkins of Right Wing News today puts Huckabee at # 7 on his list of candidates most likely to win the GOP nomination for 2008. That is progress, but he still has Huckabee behind three senators (Allen, Frist & McCain), Giuliani, Rep.Tom Tancredo (CO) and Gov. Bill Owens (CO). We find this a bit odd, since Hawkins himself has previously declared McCain dead and cast serious doubt on Giuliani's ability to overcome his liberal views on abortion. And we all know that senators have a very, very hard time getting elected president. That leaves Tancredo and Owens. Should Huckabee not be at least #3 on this list (if not #1, as Tim Saler has him)?

Speaking of Tancredo, he's been making a run in Justin Ready's candidate preference poll, fueled by hatred-filled anti-immigration types. Why not pop on over and help Huckabee maintain his lead?

And speaking of immigration, Pat Lynch, a long-time radio personality and Arkanasas Democrat-Gazette columnist, has a blog called Lynch at Large. Lynch is an avowed liberal, and no fan of Governor Huckabee's, so his post today is quite interesting.

Remarking about Huckabee's speech at the national convention of the League of United Latin American Citizens yesterday, Lynch asks:

"Why is Huckabee saying things so completely out of sync with national Republicans? Is he very dumb, or very smart? I vote for the latter."