Janet Huckabee campaigns for Todd Akin

October 18, 2012

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s a pity that I don’t agree with Janet Huckabee’s politics. 

The wife of former Akansas governor Mike Huckabee delivered a highly entertaining speech here as part of a whirlwind tour around the state for Missouri Women Standing with Todd Akin.


Demonstrators turned out in the rain to protest the Todd Akin campaign rally for women in Kansas City Wednesday. (Diana Reese — For The Washington Post)

If you’re a stickler for details, you might notice that Janet Huckabee is not a Missouri woman. And if you were at the event, you might’ve noticed that she spoke for more than 30 minutes to frequent laughter and applause – and didn’t really say much of substance about Akin. Actually, she didn’t say much about him at all.

We did, however, hear about her adventures jumping out of an airplane with the U.S. Army’s Golden Knights, pulling 9 Gs in an F-16 fighter plane, her 38 1/2 years of marriage to Mike Huckabee, her maiden name of McCain (awkward in the 2008 presidential race), and her trials of getting through airport security with two titanium knees.

Mike Huckabee, a 2008 presidential candidate, was the only Republican leader who stood by Rep. Todd Akin after his “legitimate rape” comment in August. Eventually other party leaders added their support once it became obvious that Akin was not going to withdraw as the GOP candidate against incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).

Janet Huckabee said Akin’s “six seconds of misspeaking, I think, did us all a favor because, ladies, I don’t think we’d be here otherwise.” She explained, “People made me mad when they kicked our man when (he was) down. It’s as simple as that. You expect it from your enemy. You don’t expect it from your own.”

At least 100 people, mostly women, along with a few men and several families (I counted six kids in one) attended the event. Akin was there, shaking hands, at the beginning but did not speak to the crowd.


Janet Huckabee, third from the right, was the keynote speaker at a rally for women supporting Todd Akin in his bid for the U.S. Senate in Missouri. (Diana Reese – For The Washington Post)

Huckabee described how she and five other women, including Penny Nance, the president of the Concerned Women political action committee — her “new bffs” — had traveled the Show-Me state in “a Suburban…or an off-brand of a Suburban” for the past few days, along with their male driver, “bless his heart” who had “six women telling him how to drive.”

That led to an explanation of the Southern phrase, “bless your/his/her heart.” As she said, “It just goes with everything.” And, of course, every time she used the phrase after that, she got laughs from the audience. 

The group appeared in Springfield Tuesday along with the Arkansas family the Duggars who have 19 children and a reality TV show.

She did turn serious when discussing Akin, saying she wanted to stand with him because “he values life,” and she believes “he tells the truth.”

At the end, she exhorted the audience to contribute to Akin’s campaign. “I challenge you, I beg you, I demand that you…I’m not going to hold a revolver to your head but I could, I’m packing most of the time.”

Janet Huckabee made me laugh during a rainy afternoon in Kansas City. But I’m afraid if her man Todd Akin is elected, the rest of us won’t be laughing when he fails to support equal pay for women, the minimum wage, government-backed student loans, the federal school lunch program for low-income families, the morning after pill — and even the sex offender registry — all of which he’s gone on record as opposing.

Diana Reese is a freelance journalist in Kansas City and a former editor of Missouri Life magazine.

Diana Reese is a journalist in Overland Park, Kan. Follow her on Twitter at @dianareese.
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