TheBlaze spoke to former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee about his upcoming TBN show, "Huckabee." Huckabee discussed his brand-new endeavor and weighed in on current events of the day.
See Huckabee's full interview below, as well as the trailer for his new show, which premieres on TBN at 8 p.m. ET Saturday.
Tell us about the new show. What can audiences expect? Who is the show for?
It's going to be very similar to the show that I did at Fox News, but there are a couple of differences. One, while I will definitely have political content, I'm going to do everything I can to avoid what I call the "political ping-pong" that we normally see on cable news, when you have a Democrat and Republican and they basically bounce back and forth with very predictable talking points. It's often an argument rather than a discussion.
So what I'm going to do is to focus on helping the audience to understand the background and analysis on issues such as health care, infrastructure, North Korea. Then I'll talk about what kind of solutions we can get to. I don't want people talking over each other. I want to have a civil conversation with a goal toward "How could we fix 'x,' whatever 'x' may be."
Two, the show will be entertaining, informative, inspirational, and wholesome. It's going to be a variety: music and comedians, features on ordinary folks who nobody has heard of and who have done something remarkable. These people are the ones who truly do make America great. We forget sometimes that the real day-to-day heroes that make America work and such a delightful place to be are not necessarily the ones that are in the headlines, top of the fold on page one.
The fact that the show is based in Nashville I think probably lends itself to say without a doubt, it's going to have a lot of musical content and it's going to be a fun show from that standpoint as well.
Why did you decide to move your show to TBN?
I anticipated that when I left the presidential race and Fox rehired me as a contributor that the show would come back, and frankly, it was on track to do that, but then when Roger Ailes was forced out at Fox, I think the likelihood that my show would have come back went with him. He was a big fan of it and really wanted it to come back.
So in the meantime, TBN approached me, and this is their first foray into doing a show on their network that is not overtly religious. The network's new CEO is really trying to take TBN in a much broader direction from just a 24-hour-a-day religious content to bringing in a broader audience and a perspective that — again, the best way I can describe the show is that it's not a religious show. It's not a Christian content show.
It's a show with general audience content that does happen to be unabashedly and unapologetically a Christian believer. It's going to be wholesome. You won't have to run your kids out of the room because we're getting content that just a little bit on the blue side. That's not gonna happen. We won't be preachy at all. It's not going to be a show that people watch because it's wall-to-wall religious content, but we'll also have the opportunity to have guests who have a strong personal story that, at its heart, is of a spiritual nature. We're not going to be afraid to have them, or tell them to tone it back like in a regular cable news environment.
Your first guest is President Donald Trump. What can you tell us about that interview?
Clearly to get the President of the United States on as the first guest I think is going to be significant because it lets people know we're going to cover some pretty big topics with real news-makers. Whether people love or hate Donald Trump, you've got to acknowledge, nobody is making more news every day than he is, and to land an interview with him like this is going to be a great launch for our show. But I think [viewers] are also going to come to understand that even the approach that I'll take when talking with him — I don't want to just engage in what will be just the expected and boringly predictable talking points; I want to make sure that we can cover some ground of a personal nature.
Not so much just "What did you say this week," but "Why did you say it?" Not just "Who are you?" but "What made you like you are?" Those are the types of things that I'm hoping to be able to get into a conversation with him.
Unquestionably, having him on is gonna mean that a lot of people will watch the first show that wouldn't normally watch it, and I think when they do and they see what I'm going to do with it, I hope that they say, "Gee, this is entertaining, fun. I learned stuff, met some people I would never have met, got some political stuff ..."
You said in your interview with "The View" in September that you aim to practice vertical discussions on the show. Tell us about that.
I developed this thought of politics when I was running in Arkansas, which was such a hardcore Democrat state. I was running as Republican, and Republicans never got elected. And with a state that was 90 percent Democrat, to get elected repeatedly, people say, "How did you do it?" Well, first of all, you don't run horizontally, because if you do — in that atmosphere — you lose every time, which is what the history of the Republicans has been.
So, for me, I looked at this and said most practitioners of politics see everything horizontally. Left, right; liberal, conservative; Democrat, Republican. Most people don't look at it that way. They look at it vertically. Is it good? Is it bad? Is it up? Is it down? They will vote for a Republican mayor if they think he'll fix the potholes, get the trash picked up on time, and keep the parks clean of trash and safe for kids to play. They don't really care what his party affiliation is. They want results. I found that to be true as governor: That people were less interested in me being a Republican as long as I carried out the duties that made the state better.
What I developed — "vertical politics" — is "Don't focus on the left or right. Focus on the up and the down." So when I approach issues on the show, I'm going to look at them vertically rather than horizontally. And I think that's going to be something that'll be very different than what people are used to seeing.
How do you hope to serve viewers through your show?
First of all, I want to inform them — give them information that they wouldn't get anywhere else. Secondly, I want to inspire them. I want them to feel good about themselves, their family, their country. I want them to understand that not everything is negative. If people watch typical news all day ... your blood pressure will be 300/200 if that's all you do. I think we have to have some inspirational moments where we realize that we've got people living in our neighborhoods who are true heroes — we just don't know it yet.
Another thing is to entertain. I think people want to laugh. I just believe that the loss of a sense of humor in America is one of the great losses moreso than an economic loss. We're going to have content that is intended to put a smile on people's faces, whether it's having comedians come on, in the old-fashioned way where they come in and do a routine, and then an interview. Let the audience laugh. We're going to have a large studio audience in an amazing theater that's been built out just for this show in Nashville.
It's going to be a fun show. Entertaining to watch. We need to laugh. We really need to sit back and not take everything so seriously. ... I've often said that we need to take God seriously, but not take ourselves so seriously. And I'm afraid that in most cases we do the opposite — we take ourselves very seriously, and we pay no attention to God at all.
What do you think are the three biggest issues facing American families today?
I think it's probably health care, their own personal economics, and just a general fear for our well being and safety. How can they take better care of themselves, how can they afford to do that; what are the economic implications on everything from their retirement funds to their paychecks, to how they're going to buy a home or pay rent, will they have money to send their children to school ... and then that general feeling of "Are we under threat?" whether it's terrorism, natural disasters — just that sense of "Do I wake up in the morning afraid, or do I wake up in the morning saying, 'This is gonna be a good day.'" And how do I get to that place?
Some of your tweets have indicated a 2020 presidential run. What can you tell us about that?
I will absolutely not run for anything ever again. There's only so many times you can deplete your retirement fund and drain your life insurance reserves to run for office, and I am done. This last foray was it.
I'm having fun with Twitter. I think sometimes people read my Twitter feed, and it's amazing the reactions that come, because it's obvious that some people have zero sense of humor. They take everything literally, and I try to say this from time to time: If following me on Twitter makes you angry, you really shouldn't follow me, because I'm having fun. I'm doing this for my own amusement, and a lot of things I'm saying, I'm saying tongue-in-cheek. If you don't think it's funny, or you think it's ridiculous, then don't follow me. There's no law that says you have to respond or even read what say. This is all voluntary, people.
I find it really amusing to get the reactions where people just go irrationally berserk, and I'm thinking "Good heavens!" It kind of affirms that what I want to do on the show is very needed.
You recently tweeted about Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and his accidental "like" of a pornography account on Twitter. You wrote, "Leave Ted Cruz alone. He didn't like 'porn,' he liked 'corn,' and it was his first overture to Iowa voters for 2020!" Is there something you want to say about a Cruz presidential bid in 2020?
I can't imagine that he would. I think Ted hurt himself badly when he failed to endorse Trump as he had signed a pledge that he would do — said on national television that he would do — and when he pulled his stunt at the RNC in Cleveland and accepted the invitation to speak, but didn't use it as a place to support the ticket, I think that damaged Ted's future hopes. It's not that he can't get over it, I just don't think it'll happen in 2020. Frankly, I think the president will run for re-election, and I think he'll be re-elected.
Have you read Hillary Clinton's latest book, "What Happened" What were your thoughts on it?
I can tell you that while I've read a few excerpts, I think I'd probably rather have a transfusion of my blood with Gatorade than sit through all 500-plus pages, and the only thing I think I would find more excruciating than reading it all would be to have the audio version of it — her lecturing me — for hours on end. I truly believe I'd rather have my hair set on fire than listen to that.
I just find her whole approach to this so unbecoming, and so offensive, in that when a person loses an election, the best thing to do is to say, "It was all on me. I hired people to help me, but I hired them. So if they didn't do their jobs, I'm responsible because I hired them, I picked them, I selected them." But the truth is, they did their jobs. When I ran, it was the same thing: I'm the candidate, it's on me. It just didn't happen. I'm not bitter about it, I'm thinking, hey, you know what? How many people even get to run for president?
But these excuses, I think there were 32 different excuses she used in the book, according to a story that I read, and she blames everyone from [Vladimir] Putin to Bernie Sanders, and she blames James Comey. She's got a whole audience filled with people that she blames, but she never seems to come to the conclusion that she was a lousy candidate who didn't work that hard, that failed to go to the critical places that she took for granted, and that she insulted half of America by calling them a "basket of deplorables." How tone-deaf can you be? And then to expect them to want to vote for her — all those coal miners in West Virginia and Kentucky, the iron workers in Pennsylvania, the carmakers in Detroit when she essentially dismisses all of their concerns.
The gun owners across America — you just have to look at all the constituencies to which she basically said, "You're a bunch of stupid idiots who need an Ivy League-educated person like me to think for you, because you're not smart enough." You tell people that and they say, "What? I'm gonna vote for anybody but you." And they did.
"Huckabee" premieres on Saturday, Oct. 7 at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT exclusively on TBN.