Mike Huckabee has a new TV show and he has plenty to say about it and his first guest.
“We had a little difficulty getting somebody who makes news, but we got the next best thing we could. President Trump is going to be our very first guest on our very first show,” Huckabee told WND and Radio America.
Huckabee was governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007, and he later sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and 2016. In between those campaigns for the White House, Huckabee hosted the highly rated “Huckabee” each week on the Fox News Channel.
His new program, “Huckabee,” premieres Saturday, Oct. 7, at 8 p.m. Eastern on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, or TBN.
As he prepares to interview Trump, Huckabee says he, like many other Americans, is frustrated by the lack of progress of major legislation.
“I think he’s got to get the Republicans to understand they weren’t elected to go up there and sit on their hands,” Huckabee said. “Many of us are extremely frustrated that after seven-and-a-half years of saying they would repeal and replace Obamacare if they had an opportunity – they’ve had two great opportunities and they’ve blown both of them. There’s just no excuse for that.”
However, he is quick to assert that President Trump does not deserve the blame.
“I can’t blame that on the president,” Huckabee said. “I’ve got to blame it on the members of the Congress who were very disingenuous in saying they were going to do something and it turns out they didn’t have any intention of getting it done. That is a leadership issue in the Congress. The president has done his part.”
Huckabee also has strong words for GOP members who he believes allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good.
“Some of the Republicans have to understand that if it’s an all-or-nothing, now-or-never proposition for them, they’re going to get nothing, and they’re going to get it forever,” he said. “You can’t have people walking into the kitchen – 535 members of the House and Senate – all bring their spoon and their spice and saying, ‘I want it just like I want it.’ Doesn’t work like that,” he said.
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Mike Huckabee:
Huckabee is known for his good-natured political sparring, so what does he think of Trump’s combative style with the media? He sees Trump doing an excellent job of taking his message straight to the people.
“Clearly the media does not care much for President Trump, and I think they make that so very vividly clear,” he said. “But he has a way around them. He has social media. He can go on shows like mine, which he’s going to do this weekend. He’ll be able to talk to America, where he doesn’t get filtered by a reporter from the New York Times or the Washington Post.”
Huckabee has a very personal connection to the Trump administration’s confrontation with the left-leaning press. His daughter, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, serves as White House press secretary. Huckabee said her unflappable style is very impressive in a fairly hostile atmosphere.
“People ask me, ‘Are you nervous when she goes up there?’ Absolutely not,” he said. “I have every confidence that’s she’s absolutely capable of doing that job and doing it well. I watch, basically saying, ‘Way to go, girl. Good job.'”
He said the secret to Sanders staying calm is her refusal to escalate the tensions in the press room.
“She never takes that stuff personally,” Huckabee said. “She’s lived her whole life, since the time she was a little kid, in the world of politics. So she’s not shocked by all of the stuff that she sees and hears every day. It’s kind of old hat to her. They’re just not going to be able to get under her skin.”
From his daughter’s work in the West Wing to his own endorsement of Trump last year after ending his own campaign, Huckabee has spent plenty of private time with President Trump. He is very impressed with the man he’s gotten to know.
“He’s really an incredibly gracious, personable, warm individual,” Huckabee said. “His relationship to his children is enviable. There’s no father in America that would have the kind of closeness and rapport with his adult children any more than he does.
“I’ve seen a lot of political people who would come from backstage. They would walk out to the crowd. They would hold hands. They would wave and they would smile. I would see them backstage and it was anything but that,” Huckabee said. “With Donald Trump, the warmest moments are the ones backstage when no one is there but his family.”
While some Republicans are wary of Trump doing business with key Democrats on immigration and federal spending, Huckabee said it sets a positive precedent.
“It’s kind of like how we’re going to approach issues on the show. I want to get Democrats on the show and ask, ‘How do you fix this? What is your idea?’ They may have some good ones. And I’m not going to yell and scream at them and talk on top of them so we can’t hear what they say,” Huckabee said.
“Sometimes what they say may come across as ridiculous. If it does, it does. But we need a country where there really is that kind of give-and-take that I feel like we have been missing for a long time,” he added.
In that vein, Huckabee vows his show will not be the traditional fare of competing talking heads.
“I want to make sure that we don’t do it in a way that’s become increasingly prevalent, which is what I call political ping pong,” Huckabee said. “You get a couple of people, one on the left and one on the right, and they just bounce back and forth between very predictable talking points.”
How will his program be different? Huckabee said he’s taking a “vertical” approach as opposed to a horizontal one.
“Rather than focus so much on the left versus the right, I want to talk about what makes [things] better, what makes [them] worse, what are the real solutions and not just to play the blame game and point fingers,” he said. “How could we fix health care? Why haven’t we? I want to give the viewer an understanding of how government actually works and why things either happen or don’t.”
The show is not just politics. Huckabee said there will be a lot of music and other entertainment. He is excited to host the show from Nashville and tap all the talent in Music City, but he also plans to highlight the uplifting stories found all across America.
He said the heroes in Las Vegas this week are a perfect example.
“There were people who were laying their lives down for others, risking their lives. Many people came out of there without their shirts because they had torn them to make tourniquets and bandages for people they didn’t even know,” Huckabee said.
“That’s who we are as a country. We’re not the guy on the 32nd floor indiscriminately killing people. We’re the people who rushed to the sounds of the guns so that we could help those who had been shot. That’s the America that we need to put a big focus on and shine the spotlight on it.”