Mike Huckabee, in Seattle and wearing cowboy boots with his suit, was quick to set the record straight. He is not seeking out the vice presidency from presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, contrary to recent media reports.
I never said I was seeking the vice presidency, he told me. "In fact, if people will go back and watch the clip from Meet the Press, they'll see I did exactly the opposite. Here's another great example of where the press created the story that didn't exist. I never sought it. In fact, Tim Russert kept pressing me. 'Are you interested in the vice presidency?' I said, 'Tim, that's not my decision, that's John McCain's.' [He said] 'well, I understand that, but are you interested?' I said, 'no, that's not the point. It's John McCain's decision. I'm going to support whoever he wants. [He said] 'But if it was offered to you, would you take it?' I said, 'Let me just put it this way, I'm not looking for the job, but I don't have anything to live down about something I've said about John McCain.'
"I said 'I would be comfortable being on a ticket with him, simply because I didn't say anything publicly or privately disparagingly toward John McCain that I had to go and explain.' From that, the press then wrote a story that said 'Huckabee actively seeks VP.' I read that and I said, 'really? Well, that's news to me.'
"But that's the frustration that I have with the media... that they create a story when there's not one and I think it's an unfortunate place where journalism has come [to]," he said.
He Huckabee compared the news industry to the fast food industry.
"Everybody needs something a little fresher. They have to put something fresh on the shelf, even if there's nothing really to put there. I think they take an extraordinary level of creative license to come up with a new twist, and that's exactly what happened on that story."
Despite the denials, this week's cycle may see more speculation. Given McCain's recent denouncements of religious backers Rod Parsley and John Hagee, McCain may well be pressed to turn to Huckabee to shore up the evangelical vote.
A CQ Politics bracket recently asked readers who they thought should be on the ticket with McCain. Huckabee received the most votes.
This weekend McCain is holding a "social gathering" at his home in Arizona with Mitt Romney, Charlie Crist, and Bobby Jindal. There have been reports that this gathering is a vetting for the VP, which the McCain campaign denied. Huckabee won't attend. He will be on a cruise with his wife for thier 34th wedding anniversary this weekend, but according to his daughter Sarah Huckabee, he was invited.