Arkansas's 'Queen of Fun' Could Shake Up Washington

In this tumultuous campaign season, she's always been the inconspicuous presence at her husband's side, standing just behind him, quietly offering support.

But anybody who thinks Janet Huckabee is background material, hasn't heard of her high-profile daredevil days as Arkansas' first lady.

In those days, Mrs. Huckabee, or Mrs. H -as she's known- could be seen jumping out of planes, playing paintball, paddling in a cardboard canoe and brandishing a rifle (yes, she hunts -- turkey usually, but she's also trapped bears).

"Jumping out of the airplane was not something I was afraid to do... The bears were asleep. That's not a big deal... The things that bother me, that I fear the most are people. I think it's frightening to be in large crowds. I am not one who likes to be in front of a lot of people," Mrs. H told ABC News correspondent Claire Shipman.

She said her husband's presidential campaign has been something of a challenge, but she is adjusting.

"Doesn't God have a sense of humor -- to make me first lady?" Huckabee said. "To be in crowds, to speak to people, to sit at head tables -- those kinds of things were difficult on me at first. I am enjoying them now."

She showed that this week when she stepped out of her supporting role on the campaign trail to hurl a snowball at her unsuspecting husband.

Her sense of mischief, and her hankering to be straightforward made her an unconventional first lady of Arkansas.

Dedicated to Habitat for Humanity, she'd often hand out her personal phone number to Katrina victims who needed help. When the governor's mansion needed renovations she spurned another house or hotel and put a triple-wide trailer right on the lawn for the family.


Janet Huckabee enjoys sky-diving for fun.

Life With Mike

It was love after the first date for the high school sweethearts, she said. On their first date she remembers eating cheeseburgers.

"It was a real treat for me. The treat was the milkshake... And then I knew," Huckabee said with a laugh.

"We double-dated at first and then we went out bowling on our second date. So it was big excitement in Hope, Arkansas," she said.

Early on their romance was tested, when just after they were married she was diagnosed with cancer of the spine.

"Mike could have easily given me back to my mother at that point and said this is way more than I bargained for at an early age. But he fed me, he did the chores in the house," she said.

Huckabee enjoys listening to her husband playing the bass, something the rest of the country has been able to share thanks to his late-night TV performances.

"It's therapy for him," she says. "I think he just enjoys it so much. It's calming."

And that's one reason she'll never forget a moment early in their marriage, when he sold his early guitar collection to buy her a much-desired appliance.

"He said, 'I'm going to sell my guitars and get a washer and a dryer.' And I said, 'Oh Mike, are you sure you want to do that?' This was a big deal for me -- to wash diapers at a laundromat was not pleasing to even think about," she said.

While she has been a relatively quiet presence on her husband's campaign trail, she hasn't shied away from sharing things about herself online. According to her MySpace page, her interests include "watching '24,' listening to country music and reading the Bible," and her favorite movies include "Men of Honor" and "Rudy."

Although she said she has come to enjoy the campaigning, one thing that does frustrate Huckabee sometimes is the media focus on her husband's faith.

"We are not ashamed of our faith. We are unapologetic Christians, but we're not going to force that on anybody... Mike's not going to replace the dome, the Capitol, with a steeple, none of that's going to happen," she said.

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