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A McCain I Would Endorse

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

People said that McCain couldn't make the cut. Many say McCain is still too stiff -- too sterile -- with not enough pizzazz. Some criticize McCain for being too institutionalized. Still others complain about McCain's conservative record. And now the liberal media is falsely implying McCain has engaged in some impropriety. Of course, I'm speaking about Janet Huckabee, whose maiden name is McCain. (Were you expecting someone else?)

With Michelle Obama's patriotism in question, Cindy McCain's loyalty to her man being paraded, and Bill Clinton's anger heating up the headlines, it would not be a complete media lynching without trying to hang the only exculpated presidential candidate's spouse -- namely Janet.

This is probably the first presidential race in history in which the contenders' spouses all have been subjected to intense scrutiny, too. Still true, however, is the maxim: Behind every great man is a great woman. And epitomizing that accolade is Janet Huckabee, who deserves highlighted attention in this final installment of my endorsement series, especially because her character is also now under attack. The more I've gotten to know about her the more impressed I've become.

Janet was born in Louisiana, the fourth of five children, and was raised by a single mom. She had a poor -- not privileged -- upbringing in Hope, Ark. And she and Mike were only 18 years old when they married. Only a year or so into their marriage, she was diagnosed with spinal cancer. Doctors anticipated having to sever her spinal cord, which would have left her a paraplegic. Miraculously, with help from God, the medical world and Mike, she learned to walk all over again. Janet and Mike would go on to have three children (John Mark, David and Sarah).

Janet always has loved the outdoors and taking physical risks. She has sky-dived with the Golden Knights, landed in an F-18 on an aircraft carrier, bungee jumped, hunted rattlesnakes and bears, completed two marathons, and fired a grenade launcher -- hitting the target two out of three times. She even earned a place in the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame by riding a jet ski down the entire Arkansas River. Her love for adventure is one reason Janet was nicknamed the "first tomboy" of Arkansas.

Before becoming first lady of Arkansas, Janet was active in the Beech Street First Baptist Church and helped out with the ACTS-TV station. She served two terms as president in the Texarkana, Ark., Parent Teacher Association, was a substitute teacher for the Texarkana public schools, a pharmacist's assistant, and is an alumnus of the Little Rock Citizens Police Academy. She also attended Ouachita Baptist University, later graduating with honors in organizational management from John Brown University.

As first lady of Arkansas, Janet served on boards for the Campaign for Healthier Babies, the Arkansas Hospice Foundation, the Red Ribbon Week for the Arkansans for Drug-Free Youth program, the Arkansas Lung Association Clean Air Race and the Committee of 100, among others. When tornadoes devastated the state, she chaired the Arkansas Red Cross Disaster Relief Campaign. She ran for secretary of state in 2002 -- the same year Mike was running for re-election as governor. (He won, but Janet lost her bid.) She even was personally willing to spearhead Habitat for Humanity projects, as well as help more than 70,000 Hurricane Katrina victims and evacuees. She is also presently on the Habitat for Humanity International Board.

Through it all, Janet has been a phenomenal mother and stood by her man through almost 34 years of marriage, which includes his three years as lieutenant governor of Arkansas, 12 years as governor and now his run for the presidency. She even has taken a leave of absence from the American Red Cross as Arkansas program manager for state emergency management relations in order to support Mike's bid for the White House.

Janet is a staunch conservative, competitive and a straight shooter. "Janet is going to tell you what she thinks," said her friend Anita McCauley Murrell. "She is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of person." And her priorities and values are as straightforward as her personality -- namely faith, family and friends. Janet is truly cut from the same robust and resilient grade as leading women of early America. She bears characteristics of, and a similar spirit to, women such as Abigail Adams, Margaret Corbin and Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley (Molly Pitcher).

If the media's only accusation of her is to drop innuendos of her bad taste and choice of hotels, then Janet's standing on very solid ground. The truth is liberal broadcasting agencies are on a biased smear campaign to ensure a Republican doesn't sit in the Oval Office -- and they even will malign their spouses now to guarantee it. From John McCain to Janet "McCain," how much lower can select media go in their attempts to aid and even orchestrate a Democratic win in November?

The fact is Janet has more credentials, experience and wisdom to be president than Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama combined. Of course, she's not running for the position, but she would make an exceptional first lady of the United States. And what about the possibility of a McCain-Huckabee ticket for the White House? Janet already answered that question by jesting, "Well, we did that 33 1/2 years ago."

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