Mike Huckabee gave a great speech last week.
It was not a political event, it was a fundraiser for the Bridgeport Rescue mission in CT.
At a time when the news cycle is dominated by extremists like O’Donnel, Angle, Miller and Paul… and the say-nothing-partisans like Palin, Gingrich and Beck… one could only get the sense that Mike Huckabee could well be the Republican nominee in 2012.
Huckabee was the keynote speaker for the annual Rescue Mission fundraising dinner last week. Speaking to a non-partisan crowd in CT, I imagine he chose his words wisely.
In fact, he started off by telling the audience he was advised to stay clear of politics and religion – which as an ex-Baptist minister who ran for president presented a few challenges.
Now I have not seen much of Huckabee since he conceded to McCain in 2008 and don’t believe I have ever seen his show. But on this night at least, Huckabee came across as smart, engaging, pragmatic… and most of all, as a man of great empathy.
From his humble roots in Arkansas, he knows what it is like to grow up in hardship. And he shared stories of sitting with families in ER rooms, counseling pregnant teens, standing up for women who had been abused by abusive husbands, helping seniors get healthcare, helping jobless find jobs.
In his tone and manner, I could almost hear another Arkansas governor who once captured America with the words “I feel your pain”.
Yes, there were a few hard-core Republican catch phrases sprinkled throughout his speech that made me cringe. But there were also some moments when this progressive leaned in to hear more.
He spoke about the percent of kids who live in poverty who come from single-parent households or families where the parents did not graduate high school (very high) vs. mother-father families where both parents finished high school (low). And he made the case that our put-em-in-jail-crazed society only serves to create more poverty and never-ending cycles of despair. There’s one line that stuck with me: “It cost us a lot less for the government to pay for four years of college than four years in prison.” Interesting.
Before the night ended, he got up and played in the band.
And yes, he did a great job promoting the work of the Bridgeport Rescue Mission.
Whether or not you’re a Huckabee fan, you have to love the work done at the Bridgeport Rescue Mission. It’s a non-profit, faith-based organization committed to providing food, shelter, clothing, education and job training to hungry, homeless and addicted people throughout Fairfield County, CT. This year, they will serve over 600,000 meals and provide more than 40,000 nights of lodging to those in need. And yes, they need your help. Please go to http://www.bridgeportrescuemission.org/