LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is eyeing a 2008 presidential bid, took a step Tuesday that no other candidate who gets in the race may dare — he joined a fraternity.
Huckabee, a Republican, joined Tau Kappa Epsilon during a closed-door, hourlong initiation ceremony at the governor's mansion. The organization approached him about membership earlier this year.
"He's a distinguished governor. He's done an awful lot for the state as well as the country," said Kevin Mayeux, the fraternity's chief executive officer. "We've been very impressed with his character and the initiatives he headed."
His son, David, has been a TKE since 2002, joining at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. A Southern Baptist minister, Huckabee never belonged to a fraternity while at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia.
"In order to cram four years into a little more than two, there just wasn't a lot of time," Huckabee said. "Time to be a part of things like that just wasn't available."
Former President Ronald Reagan was a TKE at Eureka College in California. Arkansas State initiated singer Elvis Presley as an honorary TKE in a ceremony at his Graceland estate, in Memphis, Tenn., on Oct. 24, 1960.
Huckabee said he didn't have any preconceived notions about fraternities from movies such as "Animal House," which depicted a raucous place for drinking and debauchery.
"That'd be like saying you have a concept of a hospital based on reruns of 'M..A..S..H,"' Huckabee said.
Founded in 1899, Tau Kappa Epsilon has 270 campus chapters and 200,000 members. Huckabee said he didn't know if joining TKE would give him a larger pool of supporters if he runs for president.
"We'll soon find out, won't we?" Huckabee said.
Huckabee, who leaves office in January, has said he will not announce a decision until after his term ends.