- - Thursday, October 5, 2017

For the debut of his new talk show Saturday, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is counting on his inaugural guest to bring in plenty of viewers.

“We’re ecstatic that I was able to get the president to be the very first guest on the show,” Mr. Huckabee told The Washington Times from his home in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. “I can’t think of anything that will bring more eyeballs to that first show than saying Donald Trump is going to be interviewed.

“Whether people love him or hate him, they won’t take their eyes or ears off us.”

Huckabee,” which premieres Saturday at 8 p.m. on Trinity Broadcasting Network, will be similar in format to Mr. Huckabee’s long-running show by the same name on Fox News. However, he wants to explore more of the underlying motives of major newsmakers like Mr. Trump, as well as bring in comedians and other celebrities.

Mr. Huckabee, who ran against Mr. Trump during the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, now says he supports the president on certain issues, including North Korea.

“I think he’s handled it brilliantly, because everything that has been attempted up until now has been a dismal failure,” Mr. Huckabee said.

However, he is quick to acknowledge that containing Pyongyang has bedeviled presidents of both parties. (“I don’t want to be unfair: This isn’t a Democrat problem,” he said.)

“We could say that Bill Clinton made the original agreement that they ignored,” Mr. Huckabee said of the former president, who also preceded Mr. Huckabee in the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion. “They’re supposed to have nuclear power only for peaceful purposes to generate electricity, but clearly that never happened, and their main focus is developing a weapon.”

Furthermore, Mr. Huckabee believes that the diplomacy tried during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama years did little to quell North Korea’s ambitions.

“Trump has taken the approach, ‘Hey, all options are on the table, and if you continue to threaten the security of the United States or our allies … we will take you out,’” Mr. Huckabee said.

Mr. Trump’s bellicose stance, he said, has forced even China to put pressure on Kim Jong-un to back down.

China is now exerting “the kind of pressure on North Korea that they can only put economically and militarily. I think it has had a dramatic turn,” Mr. Huckabee said.

While the former governor, presidential candidate and media personality is no stranger to political debate, he is setting out to avoid partisan bickering on his new show, with a goal to make it different from the “political ping pong, where you get a Democrat and a Republican, and they essentially bounce back and forth with very predictable talking points” endemic to cable news.

“I want get more to the heart of what stories are out there,” Mr. Huckabee said. “I want the viewer to be able to be informed, inspired, entertained. That’s the goal we’re going to have.”

Apart from politics, “Huckabee” will feature “clean” comics who can deliver laughs for audiences Mr. Huckabee believes need a break from difficult news and the challenges of everyday life.

“Everybody needs to laugh every now and then,” the host said. “I find that so many people are just taking themselves too seriously.”

No stranger to music either, Mr. Huckabee, an accomplished bass guitarist, will perform on the show with his own band, headed by Christian artist Tre Corley, before a live studio audience. “Huckabee” will be taped in a Nashville studio located on the former property of country music legend Conway Twitty, which TBN acquired from Twitty’s estate.

Faith-based topics will be featured on the show, something Mr. Huckabee believes does not get enough attention.

“I have a simple philosophy of life, and that is we need to take God more seriously and ourselves less seriously. And I think that, in many cases, we’ve got it just polar opposite,” the former Baptist preacher said, adding the culture is too primed for anyone to take immediate offense at almost anything.

“We need to just get over ourselves and step back and laugh and say, ‘By golly, there’s a lot to be grateful for in this life,’” he said.

Mr. Huckabee often performed with his band The Little Rockers on his old Fox News show. When asked if he has faced any criticism for being both a Christian and a fan of rock music, the musician-pastor demurred.

“People I think know that’s just who I am, and it really wouldn’t have much influence if they tried to beat me up for it,” he said. “I get beat up for way more important things, so I’m used to it, and I’m pretty much immune to it.”

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