AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato
In the midst of a competitive primary, future President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton, stumping for his wife, made campaign stops in Pendleton in 2008.
He’s a decade late, but Mike Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor and a Republican presidential candidate in 2008 and 2016, will be making an appearance in Pendleton.
Huckabee will be speaking at the Pendleton Convention Center on Oct. 9, not as a part of a campaign, but to promote Pregnancy Care Services, a Pendleton anti-abortion nonprofit that provides counseling services, parenting classes, and other resources to expecting mothers and fathers.
Pregnancy Care Services Executive Director Laura Jensen was at an anti-abortion conference where a speaker asked them to “think big.”
An event featuring Huckabee immediately sprung to Jensen’s mind and when she reached out to his representatives, she was surprised to hear back that he accepted the invitation.
Jensen said the event where Huckabee will speak, “Unite for Life,” will not be a political rally.
Instead, the event will be focused on Pregnancy Care Services and their plans to expand.
Within the next few years, Jensen said Pregnancy Care Services wants to add a nurse to their staff and upgrade its 311 S.E. Dorion Ave. facility to include prenatal services like ultrasound services.
While the event isn’t supposed to be explicitly political, Jensen said she hoped Huckabee will help draw conservatives and other people sympathetic to the nonprofit’s cause.
Huckabee isn’t coming for free: Even with a 50 percent discount, Jensen said Pregnancy Care Services is continuing to raise money toward his $24,000 speaking fee.
But the nonprofit expects Huckabee’s speech to reap larger rewards.
Jensen said Pregnancy Care Service’s goal is to raise $100,000 from the event and use it as a launch pad to raise more money toward their expansion project within the next 3-5 years.
Expectations are high for a man who has been in the public eye for more than two decades.
A evangelical pastor, Huckabee first won political office in 1993, when he was elected to Arkansas’ open lieutenant governor seat in a special election.
Huckabee ascended to governor after his predecessor, Jim Guy Tucker, resigned, and he would go on to win two more terms.
He launched a campaign for president in 2007, and even though he won the pivotal Iowa caucus and several other primaries in southeastern states, he dropped out of the race in March 2008 once it became clear that the late Sen. John McCain would win the nomination.
Huckabee made another run for president in 2016, but he dropped out again after a ninth place finish in Iowa.
A frequent radio and television host and commentator, Huckabee launched a new show with the Trinity Broadcasting Network, a Christian TV station, in 2017.
His daughter, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is the press secretary for President Donald Trump.
The Pendleton Convention Center seats 500, but Jensen said there are only about 300 free tickets left for the event available to the general public. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis through Pregnancy Care Services.
The speech and dinner will be emceed by Marty Campbell, a rodeo announcer and a high school teacher. The dinner will start at 6:30 p.m. and Huckabee’s speech at 7:30 p.m.
Contact Antonio Sierra at email@example.com or 541-966-0836.