Huckabee visits Iowa City on book tour


Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee — who ran for president in 2008 — said on Monday that he believes his 11 years running the state would give him an edge should he formally decide to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

“A governor has run a microcosm of the [national] government,” Huckabee told The Daily Iowan. “That’s something a senator or congresswoman simply wouldn’t have.”

On Monday, Huckabee visited the Old Capitol Mall as part of his A Simple Government book tour. Several dozen area residents, including many University of Iowa students, showed up to shake Huckabee’s hand, have him sign a book, and, in many cases, pose for a photo.

“It was flat-out awesome,” said UI senior Michael Ropella.

The political-science major said he was drawn to Huckabee’s “down-to-earth” style rather than his political policies.

A Simple Government, the most recent of Huckabee’s seven books, outlines a 12-tenet plan to rectify problems in legislative practice. The principles address the issues of federal government spending, increased activity of local governments, and implementation of strong national defense and counterterrorism policies.

Despite the ostensible purpose of the book tour, some political scientists said the former governor’s visit had other implications.

“People like Mike Huckabee don’t go to Iowa unless they are thinking seriously of running, even if they have books,” said David Redlawsk, the author of Why Iowa</a>, a book examining the state’s caucuses, in an e-mail. “In fact, the ‘book tour’ is a time-tested strategy in the early run-up to the caucuses.”

Huckabee won the Iowa Republican caucuses in 2008, and he was dead-even with President Obama in a matchup poll of several potential Republican candidates conducted by Rasmussen Reports in January. Redlawsk, a former UI professor who is now a political-science professor at Rutgers University, said he believes Huckabee is “certainly a front-runner” in Iowa.

UI political-science Professor Bob Boynton said Huckabee’s experience as a governor and minister appeals to Iowans, and history could repeat itself in the state.

“He did well last time, [so] it’s plausible he’ll do well this time,” he said.

The UI College Republicans sponsored Huckabee’s visit, and former Chairwoman Natalie Ginty said Huckabee’s political experience and strength of personality interested Iowans.

“He’s a very likeable man,” she said.

Though UI Democrats Co-President Dane Hudson did not attend the book signing, he said the former governor is also propelled by his social positions.

“Social conservatism is appealing to a lot of people [in Iowa],” he said.

While Huckabee has yet to formally announce his candidacy, he was optimistic after signing roughly 150 books Monday.

“I’m encouraged by the very positive response,” Huckabee said.

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