National Journal's Linda Douglass sat down with Janet Huckabee for "National Journal On Air." This is a transcript of their conversation.
Linda Douglass: I want to welcome Janet Huckabee. She is the wife of Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who has been surging in all of the polls. Welcome, Mrs. Huckabee.
Janet Huckabee: Thank you.
Douglass: Well, speaking of surging in the polls, what has changed for you now as you see your husband suddenly shooting up in polls in Iowa and also in national polls? What's changed?
Huckabee: Well, I think really the only thing that's changed for us is that it's a lot more exciting. Things are pumping, so to speak, and the amount of people that come to our events is a lot different than it was when we started 11 months ago. We're still working very hard, we still take nothing for granted, and we just keep out there meeting one person at a time.
Douglass: But of course, with the rise in the polls, you're getting it from all sides, of course -- or at least Governor Huckabee, your husband, is. Certainly his opponents now are attacking him, accusing him of all kinds of things in his record and so forth. How do you react to seeing the other candidates go after him in this way?
Huckabee: Well, the one thing that I keep reminding him is that as long as you know someone is kicking him from behind that means he's in front. The fact is, we don't want to participate in tearing another candidate down -- that's just junior-high level. So, we stand on our record. Mike has a great record; he's done a lot for the state of Arkansas. I think he would be a fabulous leader for the country and one that could bring the country together and make us proud to be the United States of America. Rate candidates' positions
Douglass: Well, not only are the other Republican candidates going after your husband, but now comes the inevitable media scrutiny, which really hasn't taken place until now. Most of the coverage of your husband has been very favorable, but now reporters are starting to look into his record in Arkansas, raising questions, as you know, about a rapist who ultimately was released from prison there and the record on taxes that the governor had. Do you think the media are being unfair in this moment of the campaign?
Huckabee: I don't think -- really think -- they are being unfair. They're doing what they're supposed to be doing. I don't think they fully understand there's only so many times you can explain something. Our predecessor was the one who made that particular person you're speaking of parole-eligible. The parole board is the one that actually let him go, so you can only say that so many times. It's kind of like the faith questions. You can only talk about evolution so many times. You can only talk about Creation so many times. You just have to stand on your record and that is what we're doing.
Douglass: You also mentioned that he is getting questioned closely about his faith and the specific beliefs that he holds. On the other hand, he is running an ad in which he defines himself as a Christian leader. So, I guess the question is, if you point to your Christianity as one of your assets as a presidential candidate, why shouldn't then he be asked about what that means?
Huckabee: Not a reason at all for him not to be asked that question, but I think it's only fair that you ask all candidates of their religion or their faith. Why hound just one? In that particular area, that ad, it's not necessarily running as a Christian, but he's just explaining who he is. I mean, let's face it, he was a pastor of a Baptist church for 12 years. It explains who he is. Our faith defines us, and it's not something we're ashamed of. But if you're going to ask one, ask them all.
Other political news of note
Obama challenges Naval Academy graduates to help restore trust in institutions
In a speech to the graduating class of 2013 at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., President Barack Obama challenged the 1,047 graduates to “live with integrity” and help restore trust in a military that has been stained by recent charges of sexual assault.
- Republicans' 'Mad Lib' IRS controversy
- Obama reframes rules of engagement on terrorism
- IRS official Lerner placed on leave
- Heckler repeatedly interrupts Obama speech
- Obama challenges Naval Academy graduates to help restore trust in institutions
Douglass: Your husband has been asked this -- I know you are a religious person -- I can't help but ask you this, as well: Do you think that Mormons are Christians?
Huckabee: You're going to have to ask them that. I am not the authority on the Mormon religion. I could not possibly answer.
Douglass: It's been widely reported this very interesting story that you told CNN that you had the opportunity to fire a grenade launcher at a National Guard training camp?
Huckabee: I have. I've actually experienced quite a few opportunities with the military. I've traveled with our National Guard. I so appreciate what those men and women do, and I'm one that learns by experience. Well, I've jumped out of an airplane. I've flown in an F-16 with our National Guard. I've landed on an aircraft carrier. I've taken off from an aircraft carrier.
Douglass: And you are something of a marksman. You have a concealed-weapon carrying permit as does the governor, is that correct?
Huckabee: I do. I would hardly say I'm a marksman. I definitely would not go that far. But again, I've had my concealed-weapon license for quite a while -- I've actually had mine longer than my husband. It's something that, I think, if you're going to have a weapon, you should go learn how to shoot it.
Douglass: I guess the question was, why a concealed weapon?
Huckabee: Well, because if you have one in your vehicle or something and it's under your seat, if you don't have a license you could be in serious trouble. I've traveled across the country with two females. I think it's a dangerous situation that perhaps you could be stranded. There's, to me, nothing wrong with being able to protect yourself.
Douglass: Final question for you, I know you are short on time Mrs. Huckabee. What has been the hardest thing about this campaign for you?
Huckabee: I guess the hardest thing is to be away from home and be away from family. Because it's a grueling process. It's very demanding: long days, short nights, being away from your home, being away from your children, being able to have the freedom to just call your mom up and go stay at the house for a while and have a good dinner. Those things are probably the most difficult. As strange as it may sound, campaigning is something Mike and I really enjoy. We like people, we like to learn about people and travel to different places. So, the campaign part is really an enjoyment for us.
Douglass: You're right, it's a grueling experience and it's going to be even more grueling in the next few weeks. So, you're going to have an exciting several weeks ahead, Mrs. Huckabee. Thank you very much for joining us here.
Huckabee: It's going to be fun.
Douglass: It can be fun -- fun and grueling. Thank you so much, Mrs. Huckabee, for joining us here.
Huckabee: You're quite welcome. Thank you.
Copyright 2012 by National Journal Group Inc.