Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is launching a new show next weekend, and you may have heard of his first guest. The host is expected to have a congenial, yet topical conversation with President Trump on the inaugural episode of "Huckabee."
“I want to cover some of the topics and issues but I don't want it to be as typical an interview, and I want to try to get to some of the more issues of why he does what he does,” Huckabee shared with Townhall. “Rather than just what he does, and positions he's taken. I am hoping the people will watch. I think it will be a fun exchange and he and I know each other well enough that it's not going to be hostile for certain, but also hope it's insightful. And that he will feel relaxed enough with me knowing I'm not there to try to put him on the spot, but I want him to give some very candid responses to things. So I think it's going to be a worthwhile interview for sure.”
Huckabee’s new project will air Saturdays at 8 p.m. on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, the “largest Christian Television Network in the world.” We spent some time chatting about why evangelical Christians were so drawn to Trump’s style in last year’s campaign.
“Because they knew the alternative was Hillary,” Huckabee said. “It's as simple as that. Everything from the Supreme Court nominees to assault on religious liberty, we saw how Hillary really thought toward evangelicals through the leaked emails. Essentially, religious people were held in contempt. And the 'basket full of deplorables' were a part of who they were. So I think that there was a strong sense that Donald Trump respected religious liberty, and he respected the people who were people of faith.”
That’s not saying that Christians have a false sense of Trump’s piety.
“No one in the faith community had any illusion that Donald Trump was one of them, in the sense that he was going to sit by them in the pew, up close to the front on Sunday, read aloud from the Bible and share long quotations from memory,” Huckabee noted. “Everybody understood that's not who Donald Trump is. The people were less concerned about what he may have personally embraced in his own life, as that he was respectful of those who did embrace faith as a life force.”
That was apparent for anyone who met him when the cameras weren't rolling.
“There was a respect there that they appreciated, and they also understood that this was not about having someone to pray real loud out in the public, this was someone who would not violate their basic constitutional rights of freedom of religion.”
Trump’s respect for others’ faith, Huckabee says, is in severe contrast to the treatment they can expect from Hillary Clinton.
“Oh my gosh, I've known Hillary for many years,” the former governor said. “You know, there's a difference. Trump is very transparent as to who he is. He doesn't mind whether it's a four-letter word, and we know that. But he's honest about it; there is a candor and transparency.”
All he wants - all most voters want - is a little authenticity.
“I think that one thing that Donald Trump impressed upon people in the faith world, there was an authenticity about him that we did not see and knew did not exist in Hillary. There was nothing authentic about Hillary. I mean she couldn't even go to Chipotle without it being all staged. I mean even down to what she was going to order and how she would eat it. It would all be choreographed.”
Huckabee is perhaps uniquely qualified to attest to Trump’s behavior because not only did the governor compete against him in the 2016 election, but his daughter now happens to be the White House Press Secretary. Sarah Huckabee Sanders took over for Sean Spicer in July, and Huckabee says the president has been full of compliments and encouragement.
“The kind of things that people say in condemnation and criticism of her, to me, are affirmations that she's doing her job well,” the father said proudly. “And the president loves what she does. When I talk to him, he'll always say, "Huckabee, I like you, you're a great guy. But your daughter, she's better. She's better than you.’ You know, he loves to rub that in. But I think he's very fond of her and has a lot of confidence in her and appreciates her steadfastness.”
So, we know that's Trump's unscripted nature is appealing to those who voted for him, but would they give the president a passing grade so far?
“I think generally people are pleased,” Huckabee said. “They may disagree on something he tweeted or wished he hadn't done it. But what I think people are appreciative of, is that when it comes to the basic defense of America, he is no wuss. He does not go to the United Nations and apologize for America's strength...So I think those are the things that Americans relate to. They are just happy to have someone who goes to the podium and says what they just said with four of their friends at the Waffle House.”
Speaking of politics, I wanted to know what Huckabee thought Trump's supporters felt about him reaching out to Democrats like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi?
“Not only do they forgive him, I think they applaud him,” Huckabee said. “Because it sends a signal that if the Republicans cannot get off high-center, this is a president who's going to work with those who will work with him and that the Republicans that have been so dishonest from all these years of campaigning, what they're going to do if they just had the majority, and then won't do it now that they have the majority, if they're going to continue to be a holy subsidiary of the donor class, then all of us say go work with the Democrats. Work with whoever will work with you.”
Political rhetoric, policy, culture and more will be featured on “Huckabee.” The show will also be interactive, with opportunities for Q&A with the audience. Like many of us, Huckabee gets frustrated by cable news interviews in which one person can’t hear the other speak. He “won’t tolerate” weekly shouting matches.
“I'm not interested in more of the yelling and screaming," he said. "In fact, I'm not going to tolerate it. I'll have people on the left on the show, but to have an honest, civil, thoughtful conversation; let them talk. I'm not intimidated and threatened by somebody who has a different point of view than mine. I learn from it; I gain from that. So we're going to have that kind of atmosphere on the show, where people don't talk over each other.”
In addition to a healthy political dialogue, "Huckabee" will also feature comedians and, of course, music, giving the former governor another chance to show off his bass skills.
“Well, I don't know if I'll get to show off bass skills but let's just say I'll play along with the band.”
Go here for more information on Huckabee’s new show and tune in on Saturday, Oct. 7 at 8 p.m. when the former governor sits down with the president. Keep another eye out for his interview with country star Dolly Parton.