ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

And I'm Michele Norris.

And today, another one of our conversations with the presidential campaign spouses. Janet Huckabee spends a lot of time campaigning for her husband, Republican Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas. The Huckabee story is a well-worn part of the stump speech - junior high sweethearts from Hope, Arkansas, three decades of marriage, three children. Mrs. Huckabee says her priorities are faith, family and friends.

Right now, you could add a fourth F, fighting, to get her husband the attention she thinks he deserves. And she says she's learned her husband is quite the fighter, too.

Ms. JANET HUCKABEE: I would say he's commitment to what he's doing is just stronger than ever. And I've always known that he was a great leader even in high school. But his commitment to the process has just been phenomenal to me.

NORRIS: To the process?

Ms. HUCKABEE: The process of running for president of the United States. For every step forward he takes, he has to take two or three back. And it's been a struggle in the sense of raising funds, getting media time, getting questions in debates. So to see his commitment, I guess, is probably something that I've really learned more about him. I know he's been committed to a lot of things. He's been committed to me for 33 and a half years.

You know, I've tested him a time or two. I've, you know, I was sick, had a serious illness with spinal cancer when I was 20. And he could've said, you know, honey, this is more than I bargained for. But he continued to work two jobs to go to school and to drive me an hour one way for, you know, radiation therapy for six weeks in a row, and helped me truly learn to walk again, and to be myself. And he could've, you know, easily said, hey, I'm giving you back to your mom. This is all over for me. But he was committed to me. He said, I do. He mean it. I love him for it.

NORRIS: Now, your husband is often described as the true-blue conservative candidate in the race among Republicans. And yet, when some of the key conservative leaders have now started handing out their endorsements, they're looking to other candidates, to Mitt Romney, to Rudy Giuliani despite Giuliani's positions on abortion and gay rights. And some of the conservative leaders are even talking about backing a third-party candidate, looking beyond the pack. Why is it that they're looking past your husband? Why isn't he getting more attention or respect?

Ms. HUCKABEE: I think a lot of it, quite frankly, is he doesn't have the millions of dollars in the bank. If every person that heard my voice today sent money and we had the millions of dollars in the bank that Giuliani has in his or Mitt Romney has in his, there would be no question. I think the message that Mike has far outweighs what the others have been saying. I think he's…

NORRIS: Are you saying, though, that these religious leaders are casting their vote or making these endorsements based on money instead of morals?

Ms. HUCKABEE: I think sometimes they are. How can you not say that? If you're looking at people flip-flopping or can't decide one day and the next. And a lot of the subjects that are primarily talked about are pro-life marriage, which is both very important to my husband. And he…

NORRIS: Marriage between a man and a woman?

Ms. HUCKABEE: Right, man and woman. Those things haven't changed with Mike. They've been there. They're - he's consistent in his record with those two subjects and others haven't been. And in those two specific areas, it saddens me a little bit to the point of, are the Republicans going to rewrite their, you know, bylaws. Are they going to stand on their platform? Those things are important to the Republican Party. So I would think they would want to lean toward a person who has been consistent the way Mike is.

NORRIS: Now, you say it saddens you. As I sit across you and look at your face, it seems like it angers you a bit, too.

Ms. HUCKABEE: No, it doesn't anger me. I get sometimes a little frustrated that people, especially in the religious area, when people say, wait until your husband gets traction. Well, I just want to see if he's going to get any traction. Well, those people are our traction. And if they're not willing to take a stand and to really get behind somebody and to push that person because they are one of them, then that part does sadden me. It's frustrating. I don't understand it. It baffles me.

You know, people say they believe in God, but - and they believe in miracles, but it's going to take a miracle for Mike Huckabee to get elected. So I'm here to say I believe God is in the miracle business. Why not have a miracle? Why not have a Huckabee elected president? It's a no-brainer for me.

NORRIS: Now, he has made inroads in Iowa, but in the national polls, he's still trailing. Without that huge campaign war chest and the advertisements and the on-the-ground organization that that kind of money can buy, how are the Huckabees going to pull this off?

Ms. HUCKABEE: Well, hard work. You know, my mother always said, anything worth having is worth working for. And we have a fabulous staff who are good stewards of our money. For every dollar that we have, we spend it like a thousand. I think that's very important, because look where we are with what we have. And really, prayer - people who pray for us. A prayer is like a million dollars. And we couldn't do this without that.

So with all those things combined, Mike maybe trailing a little bit, but we're, we feel good about where we are. You don't want to be in the top because the only way you have to go is down. So we're still climbing. It's a slow climb. You know, we're gaining and we're doing that with limited resources. So people should be afraid of what he can do with very little.

NORRIS: Janet Huckabee, thank you for coming by our studio.

Ms. HUCKABEE: Thank you, Michele.

NORRIS: That was Janet Huckabee, wife of GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.