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5 Things You Should Know About Mike Huckabee

Huckabee greets supporters ahead of his victory in the 2008 Iowa caucus.
Eric Thayer
Getty Images
Huckabee greets supporters ahead of his victory in the 2008 Iowa caucus.

This post was updated at 12:15 p.m. E.T. Tuesday

When former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee ran for president in 2008, he surprised many political watchers with a big a victory in the Iowa caucus. "What we have seen is a new day in American politics," he said after he was declared the winner. "This election will start a prairie fire of hope and zeal."

An ordained Baptist minister, Huckabee drew in one of the party's key constituencies — evangelicals. Of course, John McCain went on to secure the Republican nomination, and Huckabee went on to become a talk-show host.

Huckabee didn't run in 2012 but he's attempting a comeback in 2016 — he announced his candidacy Tuesday in Hope, Ark.

Here are five things you might not know about the former governor:

1. He's run marathons.

In 2003, Huckabee took up running after, he says, a doctor scared him straight about his weight and he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. He's run marathons in Arkansas, New York and Washington, D.C.

"I didn't want to be one of those obnoxious reformed people. I'm just a beggar telling other beggars how to find bread — whole grain, of course," he told Runner's World in 2005. "I'm someone who did it wrong for 47 years, digging my grave with a knife and fork."

2. He commuted the sentence of a man who later allegedly killed four police officers.

Huckabee's pardon record has been scrutinized and could very well come up during a 2016 run. As governor, he issued more than 1,000 pardons and commutations — more than his three predecessors combined, per the Washington Post. One man was later suspected of shooting four police officers in Tacoma, Wash.

"If I could have known nine years ago this guy was capable of something of this magnitude, obviously I would never have granted a commutation," Huckabee told Fox News.

3. He has a $3 million beachfront home.

The home was subject of a Reuters investigation last year, which reported that it lay on a severely eroding beach, where state regulations wouldn't have allowed him to build. However, permits were approved after he agreed to move the homesite back by 5 feet. As Reuters wrote, Huckabee and his neighbors have "been able to work around some of the most restrictive beach development laws in the country."

Huckabee (right) plays bass guitar with a member of the Boogiewoogers band at a rally in Iowa in 2008.
Jeff Chiu / AP
Huckabee (right) plays bass guitar with a member of the Boogiewoogers band at a rally in Iowa in 2008.

4. He plays bass in a band called Capitol Offense.

Huckabee has played music since he was 11. The band was formed in 1996 with members of his staff. "In the course of our playing ... we offend just about everybody," he said of how the band got its name.

He took his musical act on the campaign trail in 2007, playing multiple stops in Iowa.

5. He had a beef with Beyonce.

Huckabee's book God, Guns, Grits and Gravy criticized a provocative Grammy performance by Beyonce and Jay Z. Huckabee wrote:

"Beyonce is incredibly talented — gifted, in fact. She has an exceptional set of pipes and can actually sing. She is a terrific dancer — without the explicit moves best left for the privacy of her bedroom. Jay-Z is a very shrewd businessman, but I wonder: Does it occur to him that he is arguably crossing the line from husband to pimp by exploiting his wife as a sex object?"

He told NPR earlier this year that the comment was not a value judgment but that he was trying to point out America's cultural divide. "What is completely, maybe, normal and not the least bit distressing to people in the cultural bubbles of New York, D.C. and in Hollywood," Huckabee said, "is appalling to those who live out here and have to pay for this nonsense."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Amita Kelly is a Washington editor, where she works across beats and platforms to edit election, politics and policy news and features stories.

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