Mr. Huckabee to D.C. 

Our new Republican governor has decided to go to Washington and New York to try to improve Arkansas's image, which has been damaged by the assaults on our native son Democratic president. But Gov. Mike Huckabee's handlers are quick to say that he will be defending the state, not Bill Clinton or Whitewater.

Anyway, it's a worthwhile mission. The state has endured absurd criticism ever since Clinton's election.

The Wall Street Journal refers to Arkansas as a "congenitally violent place" with an "incestuous" business community. The New York Times says Arkansas has a "mind-set for cutting ethical corners." Magazines and TV regularly picture the state as a backwater inhabited by ignorant hillbillies.

Huckabee, accompanied by Rex Nelson, a former newspaperman and now spokesman and advisor to the governor, will be visiting "opinion makers" in both cities Nov. 19-22. This will include the editors of The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, as well as some business publications.

Huckabee might also do some industrial prospecting, according to Nelson, although the trip is primarily for refuting incorrect perceptions about the state. He won't be spending tax money; the trip will be paid for by the private Arkansas Industrial Development Commission Foundation.

In 1994, a group of civic leaders assembled by the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce became concerned that the bad publicity was not only unfair but detrimental to industrial development. They met several times and discussed paying visits to the northeastern press, placing ads in national newspapers, etc., but the group broke up, deciding finally that nothing would help.

Former Gov. Jim Guy Tucker, before he was trapped in the Whitewater net, sometimes tried to counter the bad publicity the state was receiving, but he never tried to cut it off at its source. So why has Governor Huckabee decided to try?

Nelson says Huckabee was already thinking about it when the AIDC approached him. Mid-November is an ideal time, according to Nelson. Huckabee can tell the opinion-makers that Clinton "has made his last political race" and that "Arkansas is open for business."

Translated that means that the editors' nemesis is either defeated or a lame duck, and, for only the third time since the Civil War, a Republican is now governor of Arkansas--a Republican with a 74 percent approval rating.

Curt Bradbury, chief operations officer and executive vice president of Stephens, Inc., thinks Huckabee might be able to change some minds. He has a sense of humor and is a good communicator, Bradbury said. "Who better to say that all the criticism was overstated? It is sort of like Nixon opening China.:

Bradbury, the CEO of the Stephens-controlled Worthen bank that was being attacked for lending money to Clinton, was one of those civic leaders who wanted to take action back in 1994. When the group refused to act, Bradbury went alone to try to convince editors that they were wrong and he believes his presentations go Stephens and the bank off the editorial pages.

However, another member of that 1994 group still has doubts about Huckabee's trip. He's Kent Ingram, owner of a concrete company in West Memphis and chairman of the board of the state Chamber of Commerce. "I think those editors will just turn around and laugh when he leaves," he said.

"Anyway, I'm not real worried about what those people think. Arkansas is not doing too bad."

Print headline: "Mr. Huckabee to D.C." September 27, 1996.


Speaking of...


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Robert McCord

  • The man behind the camera

    Newspaper photographers never get much money or attention. I know because I got my first job as one in the 1940s. In 1957, a guy named Will Counts learned it when he made the best pictures of the desegregation of Little Rock's Central High School.
    • Oct 4, 2007
  • A straw poll

    Max Brantley took the week off. In his place, Robert McCord writes about presidential politics.
    • Mar 15, 2007
  • NLR: Second city no more.

    A long-time North Little Rock resident muses on the arrival of a former governor and current lieutenant governor and looks back at hometowns of governors and presidential contenders from Arkansas.
    • Jan 25, 2007
  • More »

Most Shared

Latest in Bob McCord

  • NLR: Second city no more.

    A long-time North Little Rock resident muses on the arrival of a former governor and current lieutenant governor and looks back at hometowns of governors and presidential contenders from Arkansas.
    • Jan 25, 2007
  • Parting thoughts

    This column is kind of a difficult one for me, and I will tell you why at the end. I have written some things that I believe would make Arkansas a better and more prosperous state.
    • Nov 23, 2006
  • On the winning side

    There were a lot of interesting things that happened all over in the country and in Arkansas at last week’s voting. For the first time I had more winners than losers, and...
    • Nov 16, 2006
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Logoly State Park dedicates new visitors center

Logoly State Park dedicates new visitors center

Arkansas’s first environmental education state park interprets the importance of the natural world and our place within it.

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • The big loser

    So now the big crybaby says he's losing because his opponent is crooked and the referees are blind.
  • Trumped in Arkansas

    After two solid debates and the release of a video and corroborating testimony that further confirmed the misogyny of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is favored to win the presidential election Nov. 8
  • Arkansas 2016: the microclimate election

    In the lead-up to the past four Arkansas election cycles, the forecast has been a fairly simple one: strong winds blowing in the GOP direction.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: The big loser

    • Upon further investigation: the victim (of course) never knew about Clinton's affidavit, which was denied…

    • on October 20, 2016
  • Re: The big loser

  • Re: The big loser

    • Dear Investigator, if you want to move up the food chain, to reporter, you need…

    • on October 20, 2016

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation