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Huckabee visits Wagner Noël

Former Arkansas governor speaks about government

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Posted: Friday, October 11, 2013 5:00 am

When he took the stage at the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center Thursday night, Mike Huckabee said West Texas reminds him of three things: oil, “legendary high school football” and the nicest people in America.

The former Arkansas governor then said he would be going to Washington, D.C., in the morning, a place that he considered the exact opposite of the West Texas climate.

“So here I am to talk about how un-nice politics has been and how un-nice our general culture has become,” Huckabee said to a full auditorium. “But it’s not like you need the lesson.”

Huckabee is the latest speaker for the John Ben Sheppard Public Leadership Institute’s Distinguished Lecture Series. His topic was “A Return to Civility in American Discourse: Our National Conversation.” Huckabee then took questions from the audience where he joked that Q&A in politics means “questions and avoidance.”

The main topic of the conversation focused on how politicians and society in general have shifted away from being civil and moved to an era where reaching across the aisle in compromise is looked down upon. Huckabee also talked about how the Internet and the anonymity it provides have allowed people to say things they normally wouldn’t in a public setting.

“While there is always a streak of venom that has run through our political discourse, one of the ways it’s changed is with the explosion of the Internet,” he said. “So today what we have is a broad span of people who are bold and courageous as long as they can hide behind a funny little pseudonym.”

Currently, Huckabee is the host of his eponymous named show on Fox News Channel and the author of six books, with his latest book, “Do the Right Thing,” spending time at the top of the New York Times bestseller list.

Before that, he spent more than a year as Arkansas’ Lieutenant Governor before then being elected to two terms, or 10 years, as state’s 44th governor.

However, unlike in Texas, Huckabee said as a Republican he was outnumbered in both the Arkansas House of Representatives and the Senate, which were controlled by Democrats.

“I had a legislative (body) that was 89 out of 100 (in the House) were Democrats; 31 out of 35 in the Senate were Democrats, and I still got over 90 percent of my legislative package passed every time,” he said. “But you have to spend an enormous amount of time working with them.”

On the topic of the current government shutdown, Huckabee blames it not just on the elected officials’ inability to negotiate, but President Barack Obama’s unwillingness to sit with congressional leaders and talk with them.

“I can tell you that Democratic presidents like Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter or John Kennedy or Lyndon Johnson all understood the unique nature of the presidency … and that is, you have to initiate conversation,” Huckabee said. “You have to set the table and invite people to that table and set out the first dish.”

Though Huckabee said he never assumes the crowd that comes to see him will be on his side, most of the people in the audience had high praise for the former Arkansas governor.  

Odessan Ron Bryan, his wife Teresa Bryan, and his mother-in-law Coeen Day arrived at the Wagner Noël 90 minutes before Huckabee was scheduled to go on stage. They said they wanted to get as close as they could to the stage since they weren’t able to actually sit next to Huckabee.

An avid listener to Huckabee on his television and radio shows, Ron Bryan said it was the former governor’s attitude that made him relate to him the most.

“I think it’s his morals, his ethics …” Ron Bryan said.

“And his down to earth values,” Teresa Bryan finished.

Odessa, TX

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