Editor’s Note: This is the sixth in a series of question-and-answer sessions with candidates for the office of president. Today, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says he’s not willing to sacrifice principles for political expediency.
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee
WND: According to an article in the Jan. 12, 2005, Arkansas Democrat Gazette, you supported state-funded college scholarships being awarded to illegal aliens. Was that a mistake, bad reporting, or do you stand by that decision today?
Huckabee: What it was, was a bill that would have allowed the eligibility for any student who had gone through an Arkansas school and had met all of the requirements for the academic challenge scholarship, which is a very specific merit-based scholarship based on academic performance and being drug and alcohol-free and having completed the core curriculum in Arkansas schools. And what we decided was that we would put a bill forth that would allow anyone who had met those criteria to do it and their citizenship status, if they were not citizens they would have to apply for citizenship. And here was the thought: If we really want to deal with immigration, don’t punish the child for the crime or the sin of the parent, and secondly, nothing better than to try and help people go from low-wager earners to high-wage earners and to make them legal, which meant that they would have to apply for their own personal citizenship. The program was merit-based and it went to anyone who met the criteria, not just a limited number, so it wasn’t as if somebody was going to miss out on it. Some people thought it was a terrible thing. I believed then and still believe now that one of the traditions in this country that is very strong is that you punish people who break the law but you don’t punish the children of those who break the law for something they can’t help.
WND: You have said about illegal immigrants you support “creating a pathway where people can have a form of restitution to make things right, to understand that laws have to be obeyed or some consequences have to be applied.” You said that makes more sense than trying to deport 12 million people or build a … fence.” How is this different from amnesty, which you say you oppose?
Huckabee: Well, I don’t support amnesty. I think we have to have some type of restitution. People have to make amends for their crime. And in some cases the best way to do it is they have to go back and start over. I don’t know how it all looks. I know where it starts. It starts with a secure border, and until we secure the border nothing else makes any sense whatsoever. The second step I think you take is if you want to deal with the supply you touch the demand, which means you make it so the penalty goes on the employer if they do not have documented proof of the status of their workers. I promise you that if the penalty comes with the employer, the employer’s going to be much more careful who they hire, and if people don’t have documents, they simply aren’t going to get the work, and if they don’t get the work they’ll go back home and get the documents.
WND: Did you tell the Concord, N.H., Monitor that you are open to the idea of states passing laws creating new institutions of civil unions between same-sex couples? Do you stand behind that statement today?
Huckabee: I do not support civil unions. In an interview with them, I was adamantly expressing my support for a constitutional amendment for the affirmation of traditional marriage. There was one exchange they said something about the states, and frankly I don’t remember, it’s been a some time back, the transcript of the interview indicates that I said, ‘Hey, if the states want to deal with it differently.’ But I can assure you I believe in a constitutional amendment that prohibits same-sex marriages, and I do not believe in civil unions. Never have and never will.
WND: You say you are a tax-cutter, but your record as governor of Arkansas suggests otherwise to some folks. Isn’t it true that you fought elimination of the sales tax on groceries?
Huckabee: No. That is not a complete statement. Actually, I supported the elimination, but in 2002 when it got on the ballot we were also in the midst of having just cut 11 percent out of our state budget, and at that point really being on the verge of not being able to fully fund our Medicaid programs and a court-ordered, Supreme Court-ordered educational funding model. At that point, it was not going to be responsible or even realistic for us to cut the sales tax on groceries at that time. I have supported it and did support it and they cut half of it out, thanks to an $850 million surplus that I left the new legislature and governor. So when people say that, it’s kind of manipulating the facts that we deal with in politics. But my record is as the first governor in the history of the state of 160 years to lead a broad-based general tax cut, 94 different tax cuts in the course of my tenure as governor and it’s a record that in a Democrat state to have the kind of experience I did, I think it’s pretty noteworthy.
WND: If elected president what would be your priorities during your first 100 days in office?
Huckabee: The first is try to bring this country back together because I’m convinced that this polarized and divided nation of ours is going to be unable to solve the really big problems we face. We face a huge problem with the threat of Islamofascism. We face the big problem of a tax system that is crippling our economy, driving jobs and money off our shores and into the hands of people in other countries and cultures. We still have a cultural war, where we have disregarded the value and worth of human life, and of marriage, and the institutions that make us a strong country. We’ve got to become energy independent. We’ve got to stop our enslavement to the Middle East oil barons, particularly those in Saudi Arabia, and quickly get to the place where we make their oil about as valuable to us as their sand.
WND: Would you support a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one woman and one man?
Huckabee: Yes. And I did at the state level, unlike a lot of people who have just recently had an adult epiphany toward this view, and others who don’t even share it, I not only have believed it and spoken about it but I helped passed that in my own state. I don’t think there’s any other candidate, Democrat or Republican, who can say that.
WND: Share with us your position on Roe v. Wade and when life begins.
Huckabee: I believe again I’m the only candidate from either party who cannot just talk about it from a point of consistency but who has actually been a part of doing something about it. I was a part of a movement that led to a constitutional amendment, Amendment 65, in Arkansas, that said life begins at conception and it’s the role and responsibility of the state to do everything to protect that human life from conception to its natural conclusion. And I believe life does begin at the point of conception. I believe that we should protect human life, the foundation of our civilization. It defines us as much as anything does, as to how we treat and how we even view another human life, as to whether it has intrinsic value or worth or whether it does not.
WND: At what point do agreements with other nations begin endangering the sovereignty of the United States, such as the Security and Prosperity Partnership, NAFTA highways and the like?
Huckabee: I’m the only candidate that I’m aware of that’s come out strongly against the Law of the Sea Treaty. Also I’m strongly opposed to any treaty, any agreement, any accord, that would make us subject to any law other than the Constitution of the United States. A treaty ought to be an agreement that operates within the context of recognizing our own sovereignty as a nation, and the supreme law of our Constitution and our court. Further, I think judges ought to be impeached who use international law as the basis for making court decisions in the United States.
WND: What is your belief about the terrorist threats than U.S. citizens are facing within our own borders? Will there be another 9/11 type attack?
Huckabee: There’s almost an inevitability, not just a possibility. It will happen again. And it’ll happen because we face an enemy that is not a nation-state that can be contained within borders and boundaries, because their war is not about borders and boundaries. Islamofascism is rooted in a theocratic Islamic jihadism that seeks to destroy and annihilate every last one of us. It wants to establish a complete Islamic theocracy across the world and for that to happen it means our culture has to be completely snuffed out. There’s no peaceful co-existence, there’s no accommodation, there’s no na?ve nonsense that if we leave them alone they leave us alone. This is a war someone will win and someone will lose. Whoever perseveres and whoever has the strongest will, will in fact win and that’s why we can’t give up.
WND: Give us your perspective on the nation’s economy.
Huckabee: From a macro sense the economy’s doing quite well, and the Republican talking points will always point out low unemployment rates, 22 quarters of consecutive growth, stock market doing great and that’s fine. But the reality is for many Americans the economy is not doing that great. From the micro sense, many Americans are losing their jobs, particularly if they’re in manufacturing. Folks at the bottom, whether they’re the people who serve the food, drive the cabs, make the beds, open the doors, they’ll tell you in a hurry that their economic position is not getting better, because the cost of fuel, health care and education for their kids and basic necessities in outstripping the growth of their income. What’s really scary for the first time since 1972, people who have a college degree are not catching up with their costs and they are no longer able to maintain the same standard of living on a year by year basis that they did even five years ago.
WND: What other issues do you focus on in the campaign?
Huckabee: I think we need to talk more about some of the cultural issues, like where we stand on the sanctity of life and marriage, because that really is a defining sense of who we are and what we value to be most important. I’m appalled at a lot of people who call themselves Values Voters and now suddenly say, ‘Well, those things are important, but you know I really want to make sure this guy is electable.’ In other words, ‘I’m willing to sacrifice my principles for political expediency.’ Well I’m not. I didn’t get into politics just because I like the game and rather wear the jersey of the winning team, not the losing team. I did it because there are some things I really believe are right and some things I believe are wrong. Then I think we need to be talking about tax policy, education, energy independence, the infrastructure of our country, the health care disaster in our nation. We need to be addressing those internal domestic issues as well as the war against Islamofascism, because if we don’t have a healthy, strong and vibrant nation, we’re not going to have even enough economic and military strength to fight that war.
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