Skip to comments.Huckabee's wife's weekend in Vegas raises eyebrows
Posted on 02/21/2008 11:53:39 AM PST by Shermy
What happens in Vegas doesn't always stay in Vegas -- especially if you're the wife of presidential candidate. Just ask Janet Huckabee, who attended a middleweight prize fight this last weekend in Vegas -- where she stayed at the Hooters Casino Hotel.
That eye-opening combination -- a title bout in Sin City, which celebrates gambling, drinking and all things wild, along with a hospitality chain favoring buxom waitresses in low-cut garb -- could potentially shock the armies of evangelical conservative Christians who have made her husband, the former governor of Arkansas, the only remaining GOP opponent to party front-runner John McCain.
But Huckabee, whose husband is also a former Baptist minister, said in a telephone interview Wednesday that her recent brief excursion to root for boxer Jermain Taylor, a longtime friend and fellow Arkansan -- and her stay at a hotel that she said wasn't exactly her first choice -- was supposed to be a rare respite from the often-brutal presidential campaign trail.
"It's a grueling schedule. ... I had been in Wisconsin and flew to Michigan, and Friday and Saturday I spoke 14 times before the fight," said Huckabee, who called a Chronicle reporter while traveling with her husband in Dallas in response to questions about the trip. "There's little time for anything other than campaigning."
Janet Huckabee has made no secret of the family's support for Taylor, the middleweight boxing champ known as the "pride of Arkansas," who had a title bout against Kelly Pavlik in Vegas over the weekend.
But Huckabee said she never planned on staying at Hooters for the hot-ticket match, which also drew such celebrities as Jack Nicholson, Michael Jordan, Eddie Murphy and Sylvester Stallone.
"I had a room at the MGM Grand," she said, but canceled it when she believed she wouldn't be able to make the fight. Plans changed, and "a friend had two rooms. ... It was the only thing, quite frankly, that was available because the fights were in town."
In a highly charged 2008 presidential campaign, some political observers say Janet Huckabee's news-making extracurricular activities are just the latest in a string of events that dramatize, as GOP strategist Karen Hanretty puts it, that "the larger story line in this campaign is candidate's spouses as celebrities -- whether it's Jerri Thompson, Elizabeth Edwards, Cindy McCain or Michelle Obama."
"This is the first election where we've seen the spouse as a celebrity ... because for good or ill, spouses are a reflection of the candidate," Hanretty said.
Hanretty, a past spokeswoman for the campaign of former GOP candidate Fred Thompson, said that in Janet Huckabee's case, the Hooters stay may be problematic with conservative Christian voters who support her husband in droves -- but so may the perceived political signal being sent by the couple.
The week before GOP primaries in Wisconsin and Washington, "he's in the Cayman Islands, giving a speech -- and she's at a pro boxing match in Vegas?" said a flabbergasted Hanretty. "It demonstrates that Mike and Janet aren't serious about moving into the White House. ... This is not a couple serious about leading the nation."
But Huckabee -- who supporters say often provides a feisty and refreshingly human contrast to other more scripted candidate wives -- hasn't been the only political spouse to take her turn in spotlight recently.
...Don Solem, a longtime San Francisco Democratic political consultant, says political spouses are being more closely watched and reported on because "they reinforce character."
"That's their No. 1 role, to say 'X' has family values, he sees a brighter future, he has character with a capital C," he said. "Aside from being interesting or articulate, ... that's their job."'
...Still, the problem is that even trivial mistakes, like that of Janet Huckabee, can get people talking. "You go: 'What were they thinking?' It is what makes gossip and what makes afternoon and evening TV work," he said. "But I don't think it means a vote in a million."
Indeed, Janet Huckabee -- who happily hasn't stuck to the frozen-smile spouse's script -- said this week that the attention given to her personal statements and activities can sometimes seem "ridiculous." But she also said that reporters who ask questions about presidential candidates and their spouses doing are "not out of line at all. That's part of it, and anybody who goes into it knows that."
She does bristle, however, at the suggestion that Team Huckabee's noncampaign activities suggest they aren't serious about taking the White House.
"It's totally opposite," she said. Her husband, giving a speech in Grand Cayman, "kept his word" to a commitment he had made long before. "He's the only candidate that's not paid by the taxpayers; everybody else is living off the taxpayers right now," she said.
And she said that voters can consider stories about more personal issues, but they should know that "we have sacrificed a whole lot to do this. I have taken a leave of absence from my job. ... We're out there giving it at least as much as anybody else running."
She also firmly says she doesn't regret her friendship with folks like Jermain Taylor and his wife, Erica, who are "good friends -- and I try to support my friends in any way I can."
And her presence at a prize fight was more than that, she said: because Arkansas lacks a professional basketball and football team, state residents see Taylor as "the pro team," she said.
"I was the first lady for 10 1/2 years, and I supported him the whole time. ... He appreciated it very much that I came."
Indeed, the candidate's wife was seen on YouTube last week sporting a "Team Huckabee for Team Taylor" T-shirt and huge red boxing gloves rooting for the young boxer "on behalf of all Arkansas." The video can be seen at fightbeat.com/videos.php?id113.
Huckabee's effort to cheer Taylor apparently didn't bring him much luck this time around; the boxer lost the weekend fight by unanimous decision.
But Huckabee suggests that, when it comes to the campaign trail -- and the often harsh spotlight on candidates and their spouses -- maybe the boxing ring isn't so different anyway.
"Something my husband always says," she said, "is that it's not the dog in the fight -- but the fight in the dog."
Don’t you know she is being politically correct? The real name of Hooters is “the crying owl inn” lamenting the destruction of the owl’s habitat by greedy capitalists.
oooooooo. Good outside the box linkage there, Shermy.
“I think they both deserve a vacation in sin city for giving us McLame.”
That they did. Indeed.
But why was one of them at the same time in the Cayman Islands? Why was the other one in Vegas, let alone at an event where huge sums of money was being moved around?
That’s why they call them Hucksters
And Taylor got his ass kicked - again - by Pavlik, to boot.
(And it was a non-title fight).
Read the article. It says she went there to support a boxer from their home state. I have not heard anything negative about Janet and I am somewhat, but not much suprised that freepers are assuming the worse about a lady who doesnt seem to have skeletons.
She looks to me to be a real woman and she looks good and proud standing besides and behind her husband as he runs for the President of the USA.
“”have not heard anything negative about Janet and I am somewhat””
Apparently you haven’t heard of her two “second wedding” registries. Actually it was quite a clever way to apparently launder money to the couple personally.
NOT a good slogan, considering their smarmy, dog slaughtering pig of a son.
"Something my husband always says," she said, "is that it's not the dog in the fight -- but the fight in the dog."Thanks for reminding us. I felt that statement was sick somehow.
NOT a good slogan, considering their smarmy, dog slaughtering pig of a son.
I thought what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
Just remember what happened to Lot’s wife when she looked back, LOL.
I was thinking it and then I was never going to post it and then my finger slipped.
/born in Fort Smith, lifelong exemption
If the spouse of the candidate was really a big help to a candidate, then Romney would still be in the race.
“”This is the first election where we’ve seen the spouse as a celebrity ... because for good or ill, spouses are a reflection of the candidate,” Hanretty said.” Silly statement. MANY if not most elections in the last 40+ years have had much coverage of the wife: Jackie, Nancy, Hillary to name a few.
Lots of smarmy, childish commentary to this post.
As a longtime but non-native resident of Arkansas I don’t necessarily like Mike Huckabee politically. However, folks who use “hillbilly” imagery and language merely display their own infantilism.
Mike Huckabee is a very intelligent man and accomplished politician. His home state is more beautiful and advanced than most of the commenters to this post will ever know — thank goodness. (Please don’t visit until y’all grow up.)
First, many in Arkansas use the hillbilly term with affection. If you don't like it tell them not to use it. It's like the "N" word thing. Second, for a newbie of two days I would advise that you don't preach about a state that has voted in the likes of the Clintons, Tucker, and Huckabee. We all know about the Clintons, Tucker did jail time and Huckabee is a fake Conservative that has played many for the fool by "preaching" Christian charity while acting anything but Christian. Now he is just on a free populist tour provided by the MSM to continue to split the conservative base.
Huckabee has shown nothing but self-affection and self-advancement by his continued vanity campaign. I don't give a damn how accomplished he is - if you supported Mexican consulates for a cut-rate $1, advocate in-state tuition for illegals, hold press conferences to cancel a negative ad (then show it to a roomful of media types), pretend to wonder about another candidates religion, deride the basic realities of capitalism (I wasn't in the business of firing/profit), sign an amnesty pledge a day before the SC primary, support a ban on smoking in public nationwide, pardon a thousand violent criminals, etc. etc. etc....then you are NOT a good candidate for the Presidency.
Huckabee is for Huckabee - it becomes clearer every day.
A married woman goes to a boxing match without hubby and stays at a hotel with scantily clad women... sounds like someone has some issues.
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