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Huckabee and Leno pal around

Mike Huckabee appeared to hit all his marks during his appearance on The Tonight Show (NBC) on Wednesday, January 2.

Huckabee got laughs and appreciative applause from the audience several times, but perhaps the most enthusiastic response came when the bass guitar playing ex-governor from Arkansas joined Music Director Kevin Eubanks and the Tonight Show band for a bluesy session during a commercial break.  Huckabee’s playing was solid and Eubanks appeared appropriately impressed, high-fiving Huckabee as the show came back from the commercial break.  Huckabee could be heard exclaiming, “That was fun!” as he returned to his seat next to Leno’s desk.

Other moments that stood out:

Leno asked Huckabee how got into politics:

“…the honest-and-serious answer is that…I saw life and a perspective in the church that I think very few people get to see.  You see every single social pathology that’s out there.  Nothing is abstract to you.  You put a name and a face on everything, and I…began to believe that so many people making decision that affect the way we live, the way our future would be governed, didn’t have a clue about how people were really struggling…there were a lot of folks making decisions [who] didn’t understand poverty, hunger, or disease.  They didn’t understand the challenges that people had in their families, and for my own three children, who were small at the time, I decided I don’t want to spend the rest of my life complaining about what ‘they’ are doing.  And I finally thought it’s time to get out of the stands and on the field and get my jersey dirty.”

Leno asked Huckabee about his commitment to positive campaigning, and the affect on his campaign of other candidates’ negative advertising:

“Oh, it’s politics.  I mean, that’s what politics is about.  I tell people that, if you can’t stand the sight of your own blood, don’t run for anything, just buy a ticket and watch it from the stands. (laughter)  Because this is a full-contact sport.  No doubt about it.

Leno asked Huckabee about a negative ad that his campaign created, but which he refused to run:

“We had been hammered.  We had been outspent 20 to 1 in Iowa.  20 to 1…we just kept getting hammered with negative television ads, negative radio ads, and mail pieces.  And finally, decided ‘We had better answer this, or somebody is going to believe all this stuff.’  …then he (rival Mitt Romney) started hammering John McCain over in New Hampshire.  John McCain may be a rival of mine in the presidential race, but I have nothing but respect for him.  He’s a great American hero…so we put together an ad and taped the tape, got it all ready.  We were going to release it at a press conference, and Monday I just didn’t feel right.  We had gotten to where we are by being positive and talking about what this country needs to be rather than what’s wrong with the other guys…”

Leno asked Huckabee about his support for the Fair Tax:

“We would have a consumption tax rather than a tax on productivity.”

Leno: “Value-added?”

Huckabee: “It really wouldn’t be a V.A.T.  It’s a simple like a sales tax at the point of retail sales…You, first of all, eliminate the underground economy.  So everybody is paying — drug dealers, prostitutes, gamblers — all those people pay like the rest of us.” 

Leno: “What about a poor person…how much is this tax?” 

Huckabee: “It’s 23%.  But here’s the thing.  Every person receives a ‘prebate’ of the taxes that they would have on the level of the poverty, which means that what you really do with this Fair Tax, which is what it’s called, is you untax the poor.  They don’t pay taxes, which means it’s really a progressive tax system.  That’s why i love it, because it would take the people least able to afford the taxes, and it virtually untaxes them.  Here’s what it also does.  It frees people up to earn as much as they want.  You don’t get taxed on income, savings, investments, capital gains, or debt.”

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