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Original Issue

Q & A: Mike Huckabee

The Arkansas governor, who has lost 110 pounds since 2003, will run the New York City Marathon on Nov. 5.

SI: Do Americans want skinny politicians?

Huckabee: I think they want healthy politicians. Leaders cannot ask of others what they themselves are unwilling to do, and without a doubt Americans need to be healthy. America is a lot like an NFL football game. You have 22 people on the field who really need rest and 70,000 people in the stands who really need exercise.

SI: The New York Times recently dubbed you "the slenderized governor." Do you like that description?

Huckabee: That's better than "the gee, he can't fit into one chair governor."

SI: Who is one person you would love to run with?

Huckabee: Probably Oprah Winfrey. I know it sounds crazy, but I feel her story is comparable to mine. I grew up in the Deep South and understand that you eat the way you do because it's cultural. She set forth a very challenging goal and achieved it. It's one thing to do it, but it's another thing to do it with the whole world watching you. To overcome a lifetime of fairly bad habits, I think that is extraordinary.

SI: New York will be your fourth marathon. Describe the feeling when you completed your first.

Huckabee: Crossing that finish line [at the 2005 Little Rock Marathon] is a moment that ranks up there with the birth of my children, graduating from college and getting married. It was probably as emotional for me as being sworn in as governor. For the first time in my life, I could really say with authority that I am a healthy person.

SI: Lance Armstrong is also running in New York. Should he be worried?

Huckabee: Lance will have gone back to the hotel, showered, changed, had dinner--and then he can come back to shake hands with me when I hit the finish line. But the one good thing about running at my speed is this: Nobody ever accuses me of doping.

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