Valdosta Daily Times

November 25, 2012

Huckabee visits Valdosta

Brittany D. McClure
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Roughly 200 people lined up in Books-A-Million Saturday afternoon to meet the former Arkansas governor and one-time Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

“I think he’s a wonderful man and a wonderful Christian,” said Bridgette May. “He’s just an inspiration to everyone who likes the United States the way it used to be.”

Huckabee came through town as a part of his 45-city tour — which included five cities Friday, five on Saturday and three today — to promote his new book, “Dear Chandler, Dear Scarlett: A Grandfather’s Thoughts on Faith, Family and the Things That Matter Most.”

“It’s an inspiration for (readers) to connect with their kids and grandkids,” said Huckabee.

The book, which reads as a series of letters, relays tales of parenting, education, work, God, loving one’s neighbors, pets, America, love and marriage, the environment, creativity, and pain.

Huckabee said the book is not meant to just be read, but to be followed.

“They need to put their stories down,” said Huckabee.

Huckabee hopes that the book provides inspiration for parents and grandparents to chronicle their own lives. He stated that, unfortunately, when children and grandchildren get old enough to appreciate the advice, parents and grandparents are either not able to articulate it or in some cases, are not around to tell it.

While readers will learn pieces of Huckabee’s personal experiences, Huckabee got a few pieces of experiences from his own fans Saturday. Though the line moved smooth and swiftly, he still took the time to have a personal moment with each fan.

Some told Huckabee of their churches, others of their service in the military and one man named Paul Brown gave Huckabee a T-shirt — that matched the shirt he was wearing — for an upcoming 5K called Don’t Run With Scissors that he created. It takes place at Sallas Mahone Elementary School on March 16.

“Since he’s a runner himself, I was hoping he might be persuaded to come,” said Brown.

Huckabee was delighted to take the shirt and the letter that Brown wrote him.

Huckabee also had quite a few young fans who waited in line to meet him. Ben Hardy, who is just 10 years old, read part of his biography to prepare himself.

“I thought it would be really cool if I could meet a celebrity in the book world,” said Hardy. “It’s really cool that he was the governor of Arkansas.”

However, Huckabee’s youngest fan, Joseph Cartone, was only 14 months old.

“You’ll drive the girls nuts. I can see it in your eyes,” said Huckabee as he held little Joseph in his arms.

Actually, Huckabee was driving “the girls” a little nuts himself. One woman told him that meeting him was like meeting Elvis.

Even Mayor John Gayle’s wife, Peggy Elliot Gayle, was beyond herself to take a picture with him.

“You are even better looking in person,” said Gayle.

“You should be running for office yourself, darling,” Huckabee responded as he laughed.

Though Huckabee was promoting his book, he did take a second to comment on the future of the Republican party, now that Mitt Romney lost the presidential election.

“The key thing is to remain conservative, pro-life,” said Huckabee. “Don’t waiver on a bedrock of principles.”

Huckabee said the fate of the Republican party is not in danger and does not lay with one election.

“It was a close election,” said Huckabee.

Huckabee stayed at Books-A-Million for about an hour and a half signing books and taking pictures. From Valdosta Saturday, he went to Florida where he visited Jacksonville, Daytona Beach and Orlando.

For a full list of Huckabee’s book tour stops, visit www.MikeHuckabee.com.