Daily Revolt

January 03, 2008

Huckabee on Leno

This is from USA today, but the Transcript can be found here. Some question whether the Huckster should have left Iowa to tape the Tonight Show. We'll see.
In the appearance on NBC-TV's Tonight Show with Jay Leno that he taped this evening and will be on the air around 11:35 p.m. ET, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee gets a chance to sit in with the band, joke about his Arkansas roots, explain again why he didn't broadcast that "negative" ad aimed at Mitt Romney and say that he thinks he and Democratic contender Sen. Barack Obama have similar messages.

NBC sent us a transcript of the Leno-Huckabee back-and-forth, and we've posted it here (fair warning, it looks like a "rush" job and there may be some typos). A few highlights we noticed:

• Huckabee on why he rose quickly in the polls last month: "I've seen a lot of this. People are looking for a presidential candidate who reminds them more of the guy they work with rather than the guy that laid them off. I think that's part of what's going on right now."

• When the show returns after a commercial break, Huckabee is seen playing bass with the Tonight Show band. "Nice job," Leno tells him. That will of course bring up memories of Bill Clinton's saxophone playing on The Arsenio Hall Show back in 1992.

• Leno and Huckabee have a long discussion about the bitter words the candidate has been exchanging with Romney and the ad he decided not to broadcast -- but did show to reporters on Monday.

Leno: "Now, you and Romney seems to have gotten into fisticuffs lately. What's going on here? You guys are neck and neck and seems to be getting ...:

Huckabee: "Oh, it's politics. I mean, that's what politics is about. I tell people that, if you can't stand the sight of your own blood, don't run for anything, just buy a ticket and watch it from the stands.
Because this is a full contact sport. No doubt about it."

Leno: "On Monday, you had a press conference. You were going to release an attack ad which seemed a little unusual for you. Why were you going to do that?"

Huckabee: "We had been hammered. We had been outspent 20 to 1 in Iowa. 20 to 1. And that's tough. And we had been hammered. ...

"We just kept getting hammered with negative television ads, negative radio ads, and mail pieces. And finally, decided 'We had better answer this, or somebody is going to believe all this stuff.' ...

"Then he started hammering John McCain over in New Hampshire. John McCain may be a rival of mine in the presidential race, but I have nothing but respect for him. He's a great American hero. I think he's a great American and a wonderful man, and a great guy."

Leno: "So you were going to do an ad."

Huckabee: "Right. So we put together an ad and taped the tape, got it all ready. We were going to release it at a press conference, and Monday I just didn't feel right. We had gotten where we are by being positive and talking about what this country needs to be rather than what's wrong with the other guys, and I just said ..."

Leno: "As you were making it did you feel like ..."

Huckabee: "I needed to go take a shower or something like that or give Romney a shower maybe. I don't know. You know, at the time you think this is what we have to do. You don't like it, but you think it's necessary, and at the end you just think ..."

Leno: "So then you get a little conscience saying not to, but then why show it to the press at the press conference?"

Huckabee: "Well, they were very cynical about it, but the point is, if we hadn't shown it, they would have said, 'You didn't have an ad. You're just bluffing us.' If I had really wanted to be disingenuous what I would have done is run the ad for three days and then said, 'Oh, I have a conscience now. I think I'm going to pull it.' "

• Of the Democratic candidates, Huckabee says there is one with whom he has something in common -- Obama. "I think they're all sincere. I think there's a fundamental difference between us in terms of whether we think taxes ought to go up or down, whether government ought to be more or less involved. Look, I have respect for anybody that runs for president. I have a great respect for Barack Obama. I think he's a person who is trying to do in many ways what I hope I'm trying to do and that is to say let's quit what I call 'horizontal politics.' Everything in this country is not left, right, liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican. I think the country is looking for somebody who is vertical, who is thinking, 'Let's take America up and not down,' and people will forgive you for being left or right if you go up."

Huckabee had to cross a writer's union picket line to get to the Tonight Show set. The Associated Press reports that earlier today, the candidate didn't seem to be aware that only CBS-TV's David Letterman and his production company had settled with the union.

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