Former presidential hopefuls meet for first time onstage to discuss political polarity, season three of AMC show ‘Turn’ at GWU
Two former presidential hopefuls invoked George Washington and Billy Joel under the watchful eye of costumed redcoats and rebels as they ceremonially unveiled a double-decker D.C. tour bus decked out to announce the third season of AMC’s smash-hit Revolutionary War drama “Turn: Washington’s Spies.”
Amid a vicious election cycle, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a Republican, and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, a democrat — both of whom vied for their party’s nomination before bowing out to bigger fish — took the stage at George Washington University’s Kogan Plaza Wednesday morning to talk political strife, American values and television.
Joel Stillerman, president of original programming and development for AMC and its sister channel, SundanceTV, began the event ironically, saying he was glad the network boardroom wasn’t as gritty and bloody as the campaign trail.
“At AMC, I’m happy to say,” Stillerman said, “we’re not in politics, we’re in the television business.”
But, he said, “we couldn’t help but notice some of the parallels between then and now.”
The cable channel invited O’Malley and Huckabee, making their first joint appearance, to compare today’s political climate to the show, which explores the Culper Ring, a spy organization that shook up the American Revolutionary War.
Huckabee said the show’s similarities didn’t need much convincing, although he joked the duo had wanted to make their first joint appearance later on this year — towards November.
“I can … say that running for president is an invigorating experience, but boy does it ever take a lot out of you. The handshakes, the travel, the debates. We often say that politics is a lot of cold pizza and hot cokes.”
— Former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.)
O’Malley called himself a fan of the show — at least now that he can watch television again after a grueling run as third fiddle to the Hillary Clinton-Bernie Sanders showdown at stage left.
“I wouldn’t be up here if I didn’t believe [“Turn”] had something important to say to our country,” O’Malley said. “Let’s learn from our past. Let’s make better choices about our future, based on the legacy that we’ve received from Washington and those others who are portrayed in this terrific series with this amazing and rich truthful material from which to draw.”
“During the course of this last campaign I was always struck by the things that united us,” he said. “For all the division and for all that’s made of the chasm in our country, … the truth is there is still a lot more that unites us than divides us.”
Huckabee echoed the statement in his closing, before the pair were joined by series star Ian Kahn, who plays George Washington, to unveil the bus skin. The candidates answered brief questions before being whisked offstage for live interviews with Fox 5 and ABC 7, during which both refused to endorse candidates for 2016.
“What holds us together today, just as much as it did in 1778, is a spirit of resilience,” Huckabee said; “A shared love of country that is so much greater than all the things that seemingly divide us.”