In our previous item this morning about Gov. Mike Huckabee's roundtable with national reporters yesterday in Washington, D.C., we rounded up some highs and lows from standard news reports (including an allusion to armed robbery that was a typically lame attempt at humor).
Here are some more serious points to add:
1.) We've learned that Huckabee used the state police airplane to travel to and from Washington for the meeting.
2.) The Democrat-Gazette account mentioned that the promotional materials for the meeting were paid for by the governor's office:
Copies of a brightly colored folder touting Huckabee and what he has done as governor were placed at the seat of each reporter.
On the cover was a collage of photographs of Huckabee in various settings.
Inside were numerous promotional materials, including a biography, copies of favorable articles written about him and a glossy “Quick Notes” list of Huckabee’s accomplishments as governor beneath a picture of him playing a guitar.
A Huckabee aide said afterward that the governor’s office paid for the folders but she did not know how much they cost.
Let's be honest here. Almost every news article about the meeting made prominent mention of Huckabee's presidential ambitions. Huckabee's defenders will note that the gathering took place at the offices of the National Governors Association, of which Huckabee is the chairman. But the line between Huckabee's official duties in behalf of the state and his self-promotional activities in behalf of his political ambitions is becoming increasingly blurry. This press confab is only the latest example, where his travel costs and campaign materials came courtesy of Arkansas taxpayers.
One more thing. Today's Washington Times article about the meeting (headlined "Huckabee 'serious' about presidency") casts Huckabee's pledge to refund the state tax surplus as part of his presidential campaign:
He will devote full time to [preparing a presidential candidacy], however, only after he finishes his last full term this year by rebating to taxpayers a large part of the $600 million budget surplus that he expects the state to ring up come July.
Huckabee is clearly trying to appeal to the right-wing Republican readers who are the bulk of the Washington Times' readership. The article also notes that Huckabee "wouldn't mind being tagged in a presidential run as a 'populist,'" which is an interesting choice of self-identification for a Southern governor with national ambitions. [Noted: He's not yet made a specific proposal to rebate a dime of surplus, he's merely talked about it. Nothing can be rebated unless he calls a special session to do so.]