The July parade of potential presidential candidates continues this week. Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a republican, appeared at a news conference this (Monday) morning in Ankeny to weigh in on Iowa issues.

Huckabee says he hasn’t read the bill Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack vetoed, but Huckabee doubts he would have vetoed the property rights protections included in the legislation. “When government takes private property for the benefit of private entities and individuals that is really a threshhold that once we cross, we have a hard time getting back and I think there’s a lot of angst that I hear about it,” Huckabee says. “I know that is a very sensitive issue in Arkansas and I think in most places.”

But Huckabee says Arkansas lawmakers have not yet crafted a new state law in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on a Connecticut case that concluded local governments have broad authority to condemn and seize land in the name of economic development. “We haven’t had to do anything because we’ve never had a situation that I’m aware of where we’ve have taken private property for a private development,” Huckabee says.

“I think that there is a sense that there may have to be legislation drafted to make sure it doesn’t happen, but I can’t imagine too many people in Arkansas wanting to put their hands in that bear’s mouth because they might pull back a nub, would be my guess.” The Iowa Legislature convenes on Friday to consider overriding Vilsack’s veto of that property rights legislation.

Over the noon-hour, Huckabee appeared at a news conference in Nevada) to praise the “Lighten Up, Iowa” program that encourages Iowans to band together in teams to reach weight-loss goals. “The Lighten Up, Iowa campaign has the real potential to be a Lighten Up, America campaign,” Huckabee says. Huckabee was diagnosed with diabetes in 2003 and dramatically changed his own diet. He lost over one-hundred pounds, ran a marathon in 2004, and wrote a book titled “Quit Digging Your Grave with a Knife and Fork.”

As the current chair of the National Governors Association, Huckabee has made health care — and encouraging healthier choices — a priority issue for the group. “Americans spend 16 percent of their (Gross Domestic Product) on health care. No other nation spends more than nine-and-a-half percent of their GDP on health care. If we were spending only 11 percent instead of 16, we would save $700 billion dollars a year,” Huckabee says. “We could wipe out the (federal budget) deficit in a year with healthy behavior.”

Huckabee says encouraging Americans to engage in healthier choices is not only important for “quality of life purposes” but it makes sense economically. Huckabee is a Baptist minister who entered politics in 1992 when he won the race to be the Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas. Last week two other potential 2008 presidential candidates — Evan Bayh and John Edwards — were in Iowa. Tomorrow (Tuesday), another potential candidate of the future — former Virginia Governor Mark Warner — arrives in Iowa.