At the end of the inaugural episode of his eponymous radio show today, Mike Huckabee asked, "Is there a part of the public that wants to hear both sides of the story and hear intelligent thoughtful discussion?"
Huckabee must be hoping so. The conservative commentator has added the job of daytime talk radio host to his resume, which already includes past gigs as Fox News host, presidential candidate and governor.
At a time when seemingly anyone can be on the radio, Huckabee is betting that conservatives will find his tempered approach to talk radio more appealing than the ambushing style of Rush Limbaugh.
Huckabee's show airs from noon to 3 p.m. daily, the same time slot that "El Rushbo" occupies daily.
OTUS listened to both AM programs today to see how Huck would differentiate himself. The difference was clear from the start.
Limbaugh, who stole headlines recently with his bombastic crusade against a Georgetown student who testified to Congress about birth control, costing him scores of sponsors, opened his show by predicting President Obama's downfall as seen through his approval ratings. He then pivoted to talking about CNN and the N word, and Tiger Woods's performance.
Limbaugh brought up the "war on women" that has taken center stage of late in the presidential election. "It is being directed from the White House," Limbaugh proclaimed.
Meanwhile, Huckabee spent little time dithering as his first-ever guest on the show, Mitt Romney, called in. "Congratulations on the new show," Romney told Huckabee, a rare conservative icon who didn't endorse a candidate in the primary.
After Romney's short segment, conservative commentator Dick Morris arrived to talk about Obamacare. And as Huckabee mentioned that Newt Gingrich has pledged to support Romney once he's the nominee, the behind-the-scenes operators played a parody of the "Friends" theme in which a singer declares, "Newt will be there for you."
There were no tirades or angry moments, and it was at least a little funny at times.
Back on Limbaugh's set, the Republican fire-starter was pontificating at length about James O'Keefe's new pseudo-journalistic venture in which a man tricks a volunteer at a polling station into giving him Attorney General Eric Holder's ballot without showing any identification.
"O'Keefe has brilliantly exposed the fallacy in not requiring a photo ID," Limbaugh declared.
Rush transitioned to a bit on the developments in the Trayvon Martin case, but sooner rather than later came back to O'Keefe's production. "It's excellent stuff," Limbaugh said after repeating what O'Keefe had done.
Maybe the trickiest part of talk radio is finding material to discuss for three hours. Limbaugh has no script for his show (or no Teleprompter, as he might joke), and he often repeats himself line for line, getting louder or taking more breaths to emphasize his points. He also draws one narrative line through nearly all of his topics — conservative causes and reasons to distrust Obama.
After his appraisal of O'Keefe, for example, Limbaugh returned to talking about the "Obama economy," women voters and why, he said, Obama hates capitalism.
Huckabee has adopted a more moderate tone and asks more questions rather than answering them. He hosted a half-dozen guests on his show. Next up was the GOP strategist Ed Rollins, who wished Huckabee "Good luck."