Mike Huckabee Biographical Notes

[Mike Huckabee and Bill Clinton both grew up in Hope, Arkansas...]  Democracy in Action: Did you know him back then?

Governor Mike Huckabee: No he's nine years older than me so he had already moved to Hot Springs by the time I was born.  Now his mother and my dad were high school classmates.  I knew a lot of the people that were his cousins... but you know we never knew that he was from Hope until he ran for President quite frankly.  It was one of those things--we always thought he came from Hot Springs.  It didn't really sound as enticing to say I believe in a place called Hot Springs.  It just didn't work; it just didn't have the cachet.

Democracy in Action: What is your first political memory?

Governor Mike Huckabee: When I was a little kid I remember putting balloons on my bicycle and riding in my neigborhood passing out literature, and I'm pretty sure it was for--I'm trying to remember which candidate it was.  I was probably 7 or 8 years old.  It probably would have been a candidate for sheriff or something like that.  But that was my first taste of a campaign.

Democracy in Action: Did you do that on your own initiative or did your parents help you out with that?

Governor Mike Huckabee: No, my parents were not political at all.  In fact my parents were like everybody--my town was basically Democrat.  So I became a Republican as a teenager and I used to laugh and say, you know, my parents and my whole family were so Democrat, I'm not even sure they voted for me.  I'm sure they did, but--.

I recall always having an interest in politics.  When I was even 7 years old I used to watch the news all the time and it just fascinated me.

Democracy in Action: So you're saying when you were in junior high or so, you were already a Republican?

Governor Mike Huckabee: By the time I was in the 9th grade, 8th grade or 9th grade, yeah, 8th grade is when I really decided I was a Republican.

Democracy in Action: How did that manifest itself?  Was somebody president, was Nixon president...?

Governor Mike Huckabee: Well Nixon was running--that would have been 1968 and there was no way that I could line up with a really left-wing agenda.  I mean it just was clear that I didn't believe like that.

Part of it--I grew up with a family that believed that I couldn't expect others to do for me what I was capable of doing for myself.  I grew up, kid, working class, basically poor family.  I'm the first male in my entire lineage going back as far as I can trace that even graduated from high school.  But I also grew up with this kind of mandate from my parents.  Nobody owes you anything.  You have no choice where you started, but it's your decision where you end up.

And my dad always regretted that he never finished his education.  He said, son, whatever you do, get an education.  He said nobody can stop you if you do and nobody can help you if you don't.  And I think he wanted more than anything to see his kids do better than he did.  And so, again, if you grow up with that sort of understanding of that--this is a school, it can't force you to learn, but it's here and while you're here you better get what you can from it.

When I went to college, I worked my way through college, 40 hours a week, carried as many class hours as they let me carry.  I got through in two years and three months 'cause I couldn't afford to stay four years.  I figured it out; that I needed to get through quicker, so I did.  I didn't feel cheated; I felt blessed.  I felt like, golly, look at the opportunities that have come my way...

--ema 02/24/06 bloggers roundtable and afterwards
Copyright © 2006  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action