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January 1, 2008

Huckabee Conference Call Live Blog

Governor Mike Huckabee decided to hold a blogger conference call on New Years Day. Normally holding this on a holiday would seem unusual, but with the Iowa caucuses in two days, they have little choice but to keep on the job throughout the last 72 hours. The conference appears to be getting off to a slightly late start, but I will live-blog it once it begins.

5:33 PM CT - Chuck Norris joins us as a surprise guest. Huckabee starts off talking about how Iowa has become the center of the political universe. He's happy with the enthusiasm he's seen.

5:34 - Chuck Norris says he got to know about Huckabee through the bloggers. Friendly guy, nice statement, short, non-specific.

5:35 - Not a lot of room left in the Marriott where they's staying in Des Moines. Q&A for both Norris and Huckabee.

5:35 - First question, from a Huckabee supporter, congratulating Huckabee on his MTP interview and offering thanks to Norris for his family fare. The actual question is about Huckabee's background -- what caused him to leave the ministry and go into politics? A: A number of incidents over time. Always had an interest in politics, but only after working within the Baptist organization on an anti-Lottery initiative did he consider making it a career. Mostly, he wanted to create a better future for his three children, and he wanted to get involved rather than complain.

5:40 - Q: First for Norris, asking about his involvement in the arts. A: The only thing he ever sang was the theme from "Walker, Texas Ranger". He wanted Randy Travis to sing it, but CBS asked him to do it instead -- and 12 hours in the studio worked "miracles". Q: For Huckabee, on education and the federal role. Please outline some of his own accomplishments on education, and does he want to be viewed as an "education President"? A: The federal government's primary role should be to highlight best practices and facilitate communication. He says NCLB did give a new focus on each child as an individual, but it has problems in accounting for kids with special challenges. It also eliminated some music and art opportunities,as local districts looked to save money on areas that did not get evaluation.

This answer went on for quite a long time. As it turns out, it ate up most of the time for the conference.

5:47 - Last question: another Huckabee supporter gets it. He gives an analysis that Huckabee has a 74% chance of winning Iowa. Otherwise, it's not much of a question.

Final thoughts: I like Mike Huckabee, but this call was really a waste of time. It sounded like an internal conference designed to cheer the stalwarts rather than an opportunity to get asked something other than softballs. It's not that Huckabee gave poor answers -- he sounded very good, in fact -- but the questions did nothing except tee up his well-known thoughts on his biography and education.

I wanted to give him an opportunity to address the fallout of his press conference in which he announced he would not run a particular attack ad against Mitt Romney and then screened it for the press anyway, as bloggers and pundits have been openly wondering what Huckabee intended with that move. I figured that if I didn't get the chance to ask that question, someone else would -- but we only got three softballs, and slow-pitched ones at that.

Chuck Norris may have been the most interesting part of this call.


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