Former Arkansas Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee isn’t the first GOP hopeful to speak with Megyn Kelly shortly after announcing his campaign for president. Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio, and Sen. Rand Paul did as well. And while Ms. Kelly didn’t lob softball questions at any of them, all four were given the opportunity to test their message and begin courting center-right voters.
To summarize, Huckabee made several arguments justifying his candidacy. First, he argued that he didn’t just win evangelicals during his ill-fated run for president in 2008, clearing up the misinformation. “That narrative isn’t exactly accurate,” he said. On the contrary, he claims that he won a broad coalition of working and middle class voters who were disenchanted with the status quo—and felt like they were being squeezed by the policies and enablers of Big Government.
It is for these devoted supporters, he argued, that he felt compelled to run again.
Huckabee, for his part, also challenged the notion—propagated by the Cato Institute and others—that he is a so-called “Big Government conservative.”
“State government actually grew only a half a percent [per year] during the 10 and half years that I was governor in the most Democratic state in America,” he said. “I didn’t have a Republican legislature that walked in every day saying ‘Governor, what would you like us to do to make you look good?’”
“It’s a miracle I got elected, even greater miracle I got re-elected, and the greatest miracle of all was that I never got less than 90 percent of my legislative package passed against all the headwinds,” he added.
Finally, and perhaps most convincingly, he argued that unlike many other Republican hopefuls in the race he knows how to make divided government work.
“Bill Clinton was governor for 12 years [before me],” he reminded the audience. “When I came into office—first as lieutenant governor and then as governor—every agency was populated with the people he had hired and appointed.”
“I would get on an elevator and people would get off,” he added, explaining how every single day he felt like a persona non grata inside the state capitol. “It was brutal. But I learned how to govern.”
Watch the full clip of the interview below: