BY STEVEN MAYER, Californian staff writer email@example.com
He's served as governor of Arkansas, tried punditry as a Fox News commentator and made a credible run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.
But Mike Huckabee has a literary side as well.
He's the author of four books, including his latest, an autobiographical children's story titled, "Can't Wait Till Christmas!"
Based on a tale in Huckabee's previous book, "A Simple Christmas: Twelve Stories That Celebrate the True Holiday Spirit," "Can't Wait" is about an unforgettable lesson the 55-year-old learned as a child.
The book is illustrated by Jed Henry and is targeted to 4- to 8-year-olds.
Huckabee embarked on a 31-city bus tour this week to promote his books. He will be at Russo's in Bakersfield from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday.
Huckabee spent a few minutes on the phone Friday talking about his books and his politics, too. The interview was edited for space.
TBC: The name of the book's main character is "Mike." Is this an autobiographical story?
Huckabee: Very much. The story is absolutely a hundred percent accurate and authentic in how it happened with my sister Pat and me ... The story of unwrapping and rewrapping presents at Christmas is exactly as it is depicted in the book.
TBC: With all you've done in your life, what has moved you to write?
Huckabee: I think for me it's therapeutic, and at times even healing ... The book, "Simple Christmas," for example, may be not only a deeply personal book, but one that for me was a lot of fun writing -- and turned out to be extraordinarily provocative because there were things inside of me I hadn't touched since I was 7 or 8 years old. My hope was, that as people read the book ... they would see themselves. And the reaction that I've had has been exactly that.
TBC: What kinds of questions are you getting from readers?
Huckabee: Most of the questions are, "Did this really happen?" If they've read "Simple Christmas," they'll ask me, for example, about my wife, the story of her having cancer and us getting the Christmas of 1975. Christmas represents for so many people a milestone in their lives...
Sometimes, of course, the questions are political. They ask me, am I going to run again (for president). The answer to that is I don't know. I haven't ruled it out, but I'm certainly contemplating it and thinking about it and giving it serious consideration -- and looking at all the options. But no decision made on that yet.
TBC: There's been a lot of talk among Republicans about repealing national health care reform. What is your position?
Huckabee: I'm strongly in favor of that. The bill that was passed was one that was hastily drafted behind locked doors, often in the middle of the night. Members of Congress who voted on it had not read it, admitted not only that they hadn't read it, but admitted they didn't understand it ... which to me is an outrage, that they passed something that comprehensive and inclusive without even understanding what it would do to families, to business owners, to individuals and to the economy.
TBC: Are you in favor of some type of health care reform?
I don't think anybody doubts we need a lot of things to overhaul the system, but what we needed was an approach that understood that the basic crisis in America is not health care, but it's health.
Eighty percent of the health care costs in America are spent on chronic disease. We don't have a health care crisis. We have a health crisis.
TBC: You've experienced a period of obesity, yet you were able to lose a significant amount of weight. How has your own experience informed your thinking about the health care crisis?
Huckabee: My own experience was not only a wake-up call to me personally, it was also a reminder that health is less expensive than disease. The steps we take to be healthy, though there may be a cost involved, is a fraction of the cost of trying to repair things after they're broken.
Which is less expensive? Providing a level-one trauma center at the bottom of a cliff as people fall and are crushed by the rocks, or building a fence up at the top to keep them from falling in the first place?