Elections

Huckabee, his book find warm welcome in Wichita

Mike Huckabee found an hour's solace from the pressures of politics as a tour bus with his picture on the side rolled into the parking lot of Watermark Books on Tuesday evening.

While people in the rest of the country buzzed about his gaffe on New York talk radio just a day before, Huckabee found nothing but support, warm handshakes and smiles.

No one mentioned Huckabee's comment on WOR radio. He'd said President Obama's growing up in Kenya shaped his worldview and policies. Obama didn't visit Kenya until he was in his 20s.

After he signed books at Watermark, the former Arkansas governor's political action committee released this statement just after 8:30 p.m.:

"I simply misspoke when I alluded to President Obama growing up in 'Kenya' and meant to say Indonesia," where Obama lived from ages 5-10, the statement read.

Huckabee told the Des Moines Register that the 41-city book tour is aimed as much at helping him decide whether to seek the Republican presidential nomination a second time as it is at promoting his new release.

A poll released Tuesday of 11 Southern states by Winthrop University of Rock Hill, S.C., showed Huckabee leading a field of prospective Republican candidates.

The 155 people who filed through the east Wichita bookstore had lined up outside before he arrived, clutched his book and held him in admiration.

Huckabee stopped David Kinnan and his wife, Angela, in the fast-moving line inside the bookstore to meet the Derby couple's four children, ages 2 to 8.

"The last election we voted for him — my wife and I both," Kinnan, 34, said. "He has very realistic politics, and goals we could achieve as a country. With the death (tax) and fair tax. And he seems to get along with everybody."

Andrea Downs, 40, of Andover, came to see Huckabee, after attending Sarah Palin's appearance in November. Palin signed books in Andover.

"I like to see those who inspire me," Downs said.

Which would she prefer to see run for president?

"No comment," Downs said, smiling.

There's no choice yet. Neither has announced plans to seek the White House in 2012.

Huckabee spent about 10 seconds signing each book but shook hands and often offered a "God bless you" to folks in line.

Huckabee stopped David Austin of Bel Aire, who worked for Dick Kelsey's congressional campaign last year. Kelsey stepped out of the race after his wife was diagnosed with cancer.

"He asked about Dick's wife, and showed he's human and a caring person," Austin, 38, said.

Huckabee chuckled as he signed Jeremy Browning's red-and-white shirt. It carried the name of Huckabee's book "A Simple Christmas," which brought him to Watermark little more than a year ago.

"I bought it online after he was here in 2009," Browning, 20, said. "It's a great way to show my support for Mike Huckabee. And it's gotten a little attention tonight."

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