From NBC's Cherelle Kantey
ARLINGTON, Va. -- Greeting a few smiling supporters at a Costco warehouse here, former (and maybe future) presidential candidate Mike Huckabee made his first stop on his tour promoting his new book, "Do the Right Thing: Inside the Movement That's Bringing Common Sense Back to America" book tour.
Huckabee gleefully offered a hearty handshake while autographing his campaign memoir.
"The central message is that the Republican Party has a great future, if we get back to being the party of principle, clarity and conviction," he said. "And we're going to do that."
The book, released yesterday, has stirred some controversy in the media over its apparent swipes at his former rival for the GOP nomination, Mitt Romney. In several instances in the book, Huckabee charged Romney for being out of touch with voters and for flip-flopping on certain issues. In an example from a debate where Romney was asked about how to help the economy, Huckabee writes that Romney was more focused on reciting lines about his business expertise than on helping the average American.
"I stood there in stunned silence when he went into his well-prepared, programmed answer about how we needed to invest more in high-yield stocks," he writes. "That moment was perhaps the single most revealing of what was wrong with our party. We had people leading us who knew the country club, but not Sam's Club."
Huckabee reassured attendees of the book signing that there's more to the book than the rehashing of an old beef with Romney. "It's a very, very small part of the book," he said. "It's really not about the past or about the other people in the party. It's about the future of the party, [which] starts with being true, authentic conservatives with clarity in our convictions."
Anna Higgins, former grassroots volunteer for the Huckabee campaign, said she thought the comments about Romney were dead on. "I think Mitt Romney is a flip-flopper," she said. "It just makes me nervous some of the things he's changed his mind on."
Another Huckabee supporter said he the comments were no big deal. "I'm not listening to the pre-read flap," said Sanford Horn. "The Mitt Romney flap is much ado about nothing and way for media to stir up trouble amongst Republican figures who are well-known -- to divide the party."
Huckabee spent the hour-long book signing by hugging his supporters, even greeting a former staff member who said he was proud to see Mike out in the public eye again.
"He's my friend, former boss, and I am very proud of him in so many ways," said Brian Summers. He commented on how Huckabee waited to greet everyone who wanted an autographed copy of the book.
"He stayed here until everybody was done. [It] was the same way on the campaign trail. We never left anybody in line who did not get a chance to meet him."
As the Atlantic's Marc Ambinder writes, Huckabee today takes his book-signing tour to Iowa, which he won back in January.