Huckabee Hopes Evangelical Voters Are Tying Yellow Ribbons For Him : It's All Politics Mike Huckabee is back on the campaign trail after finishing second for the GOP nomination in 2008. In his latest run, he's harking back to an even earlier time, with 1970s icon Tony Orlando.
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Huckabee Hopes Evangelical Voters Are Tying Yellow Ribbons For Him

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Huckabee Hopes Evangelical Voters Are Tying Yellow Ribbons For Him

Huckabee Hopes Evangelical Voters Are Tying Yellow Ribbons For Him

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/404557729/404626534" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

If this were college football season, Republican presidential contenders could all feel pretty good about where they stand. Whatever their problems, they all could say they're ranked somewhere in the top 20.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The reality they face, of course, is that the field is getting very crowded with as many as 20 candidates angling to run. The newest to formally declare is one of the better-known. Mike Huckabee made a strong run in 2008.

INSKEEP: Now he's trying to stand out in the 2016 rankings. Here's NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: Even as Mike Huckabee sizes up this year's GOP field, including today's rising Republican superstars like Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Scott Walker, his campaign kickoff yesterday felt like a nod to an earlier time - one of decades past.

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TONY ORLANDO: OK - to the balcony. Let's do it together. (Singing) Whoa, tie a yellow ribbon around the old oak tree. It's been three long years. Do you still want me?

GONYEA: That song was performed live yesterday by the man who made it a hit 40 years ago, Tony Orlando, who also served as an emcee for the rally. And it's a piece of pop culture that fits in with Huckabee's regular-guy, sometimes even corny, appeal. When the candidate took the stage at the event in his home town of Hope, Ark., he spoke of the values he was taught as a child, values that he says the nation needs to fully embrace today.

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MIKE HUCKABEE: It was here in Hope that I learned how to swim, how to ride a bike, how to read, how to work and how to play fair. I learned the difference between right and wrong, and I learned that God loves me as much as he loves anyone, but that he doesn't love some more than others.

GONYEA: Back in 2008, Huckabee won the Iowa caucuses thanks to conservative Christian voters. He is again reaching out to them. Yesterday, he combined a populist economic message aimed at a struggling working class with frequent mentions of his faith. Huckabee said the country has lost its way morally. He pointed to the U.S. Supreme Court's pending decision on same-sex marriage.

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HUCKABEE: My friends, the Supreme Court is not the supreme being, and they cannot overturn the laws of nature or of nature's God.

GONYEA: Hope, Ark., is the birthplace of both Huckabee and former President Bill Clinton. When Clinton ran for president, he famously used the line, quote, "I still believe in a place called Hope." Huckabee, too, has come up with a line using the town name - one he repeated.

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HUCKABEE: And with your help and God's, we will make that journey from Hope to higher ground. God bless you.

GONYEA: So Huckabee embarks on another race, where he finds new competition for the evangelical voters he did so well with last time and a test of whether his old-fashioned personality adapts to the modern era of campaigning. Don Gonyea, NPR News, Hope, Ark.

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