Mike Huckabee’s appearance at the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore yesterday afternoon to sign copies of his newest book, “A Simple Christmas,” marked the first time a politician has appeared at the Bookstore for a book signing, Kristin Blitch, marketing manager at the bookstore, said.
Notre Dame, Huckabee said, is the only college or university on his current book tour.
Huckabee, who served as governor of Arkansas from 1996 until 2006 and ran in the Republican Party primaries for the 2008 presidential election, said being on book tour allows him to have friendly conversations with people across the country.
“In a campaign the unfortunate fact is that you spend about 75 percent of your time defending yourself against the attacks of your opponents and a little bit of time actually articulating your opinions on policy,” he said. “And so the good thing about a book tour is people come out to a book signing because they want to read your book and most folks are very pleasant.”
While he enjoys his book tour, Huckabee also said he is “not ruling anything out” in regards to running for the presidency in 2012.
“Well it is, I think, too far off. I’m going to wait until after the midterm elections next year and see where things stand,” he said. “… I’ve got so much going on between doing the Fox News show on the weekends and my commentaries three times a day five times a week on about 500 stations a day, my writing, speaking … it’s hard to even find the time to think about it right now.”
When asked about the current state of the Republican Party, Huckabee said its leaders “are finding their sea legs again to get back on track” by realizing that something must be done to fix national debt and spending.
“I’m more worried about the direction of the country than the Party,” he said. “The Party will eventually right itself and kind of find its way, but the one thing I am encouraged by is that Republicans realize that the vast debt and record spending that’s going on now is the wrong thing.”
Huckabee said in regards to health care reform, the leadership of the Democratic Party, on the other hand, has been irresponsible.
“I think the Democratic leadership has been recklessly irresponsible in pushing something that is not only a policy that the American people don’t truly support, but worse, that would have a devastating impact on jobs and the economy,” he said.
Between traveling on the book tour and giving speeches, Huckabee said he interacts with thousands of people every week and has gotten a sense of the “great deal of angst” among Americans.
“And the one thing that becomes very evident is that people are genuinely concerned about the loss of jobs, the fact that the people of Congress seem to be totally immune to any semblance of reality when it comes to their policies and what they’re pushing,” he said. “Small business owners in particular are extremely concerned because they see the free enterprise system under assault.”
“A Simple Christmas” in part addresses these feelings, Huckabee said, because it tells some of his favorite Christmas stories to remind Americans, as they enter the holiday season during a difficult economic climate, that the best holidays can be the simplest ones.
“I hope it will be a book that will encourage people, particularly those who are struggling right now,” he said. “I think sometimes people forget that Christmas is not about the what — the what I give, what I get, what I eat, what I wear — it’s about the who and the relationships of our lives. The stories I tell in this book will cause people to really reflect on their own lives, their own stories and experiences.
“It’s different — it’s not a political book. It’s a book that’s kind of outside my norm. It’s my seventh book, but it’s probably my very favorite of all.”
Although he said he is not ready to release details about it, he is also already starting an eighth book.
“I don’t know if it will come out next year, or in 2011,” he said. “This is two years in a row I’ve missed the opening day of duck [hunting] season and half of deer season because I was on book tour. And so no matter what the publisher wants, next year I plan to be in the woods a whole lot more than on the bus.”
Huckabee said the decision to make Notre Dame a stop on his book tour most likely came from a recommendation from his publisher.
The Bookstore began planning for Huckabee’s visit at the beginning of September, Blitch said.
“They contacted us, so it was really an honor,” she said.
Blitch said because they travel to so many cities, Huckabee’s staff sent specific instructions and procedures for the Bookstore to follow during his visit.
Huckabee’s visit to Notre Dame was one of three book tour appearances yesterday, Blitch said. From South Bend, Huckabee traveled to Grand Rapids, Mich. and Naperville, Ill.
People began waiting in line for the book signing one hour before Huckabee arrived, she said.
First year law student Claire Leatherwood was one of many people who stood in line to meet Huckabee and have books signed.
She said she was there for a friend who could not come due to class, but wanted a copy of the book for his father and grandmother.
“I also really like Mike Huckabee,” she said. “I was pretty pumped, he was nice to us, joking with us about law school and the first year being tough.”
Blitch said one interesting thing she learned during Huckabee’s visit is that he can sign more than of 600 books an hour.
Even when there was a lull in the line, Huckabee continued to sign the stacks of books that his staff put in front of him, but he also took time to shake hands and chat with the people who waited to meet him.
“I’m glad we’re here,” Huckabee said. “I love this campus, it’s absolutely magnificent and one of the greatest American treasures in the world of academics.”