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ORLANDO: He's got Huck Fever.
for Mike Huckabee's announcement that he is running for president. He served up plenty of red meat, demagoguery, and Real America cultural signaling. Hit all the Huck sweet spots we know so well: a mix of folksy charm and crazy talk that will rile up the base, anger liberals, and help make Huckabee, if not president, at least lots of money from the publicity. Liveblog notes below.
Tony Orlando is warming up the crowd. Heh. This has a pro-wrestling/Vegas vibe, doesn't it? Huckabee's base is best described as "people who vacation in Branson."
This is actually even more schmaltzy than I was expecting. Real America!
BREAKING: Huckabee is from a town called Hope.
Orlando plays an encore ballad, which he wrote for Huckabee, which I think was called "America is my hometown." Now Gov. Asa Hutchinson
takes the stage. Gets less applause than Orlando.
Hutchinson: "I saw Mike Huckabee go from a candidate to a leader to a governor to a great national spokesman on the national stage."
"We are here today to tell you that Arkansas is on your side," Hutchinson says.
Janet Huckabee comes out to "This is my town." Lot of towns. She says that if you had a fantasy dinner party with the founding fathers you would have to tell them that the Constitution was being trampled and it would be a bummer. "Where is the passion?" she asks. Tells the crowd they need to have the passion of the nation's founders. She says, "America is a great story, but it can be greater."
Huckabee's video: he's going to defeat the evil of radical Islam, restore values to Washington D.C., and keep gubmint's hands off Medicare and Social Security.
Huckabee comes out to "we want Mike" chant. Huckabee: "I always believed that a kid could go from Hope to higher ground." Says in Hope he learned the Pledge of Allegiance, the preamble to the Constitution, and the Lord's Prayer. He prayed all day long and concluded that America was so exceptional, it must be because it was blessed by God. And he says he spent a lot of time with guns and fishing poles. Big applause for mentions of God and guns. No mention of grits or gravy.
Huckabee is funny and folksy. He's good at this. I expect he'll be able to rally the old base in Iowa at least.
"We were promised hope but it was just talk," Huckabee says of Obama. Says he's the real man to offer Hope. I guess because he's from a town called Hope. If you did a drinking game on the word "hope," you're now drunk.
Huckabee taking the populist approach: talking about stagnant wages, student loan debt, housing prices, a fair shake for the working class. Of course, he says government programs are not the answer.
Strongly states that he will protect Social Security and Medicare benefits. This is the sweet spot for Huckabee: evangelical voters who want their retirement benefits. Opposite pole from the party's economic libertarian wing (the Club for Growth is vowing to fight Huckabee).
Huckabee says Obama has been soft on terrorism and radical Islamists: "I wonder if he could watch a Western from the 50s and figure out who the good guys and the bad guys are."
Says if he is elected president "we will conquer Jihadism." He would deal with them as if they were "deadly snakes." He loves Israel. "Hell will freeze over" before Iran gets a nuclear weapon.
Huckabee affirms that he will "never, ever apologize for America."
Says we've abandoned "Biblical principles" and are now worshipping the "false God" of the courts. They cannot overturn "the laws of nature."
He'll push for term limits. Says holding an office should be public service rather than a lucrative endeavor. Ha. Huckster is just a humble servant, you see.
"I've never been the favorite candidate of the Wall Street to Washington corridor," he says. Says he's the candidate of the working people, not the billionaires. "I grew up blue collar, not blue blood," he says. This whole thing is hilarious because he's not going to become president, but he'll probably make millions of dollars off of the publicity he gets from running.
HUCKABEE: Loves God, guns, America, etc.