Know Your 2016 Presidential Candidate: Mike Huckabee

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Mon, Jun 29 - 3:00 pm EDT | 3 years ago by
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Mike Huckabee for President
Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Mike Huckabee’s announcement of a second run for President made him the first of several Governors to enter the Republican primary.

After serving as Governor of Arkansas for 9 years (two elected terms after ascending from Lieutenant Governor following the resignation of then-Governor Jim Tucker, who was convicted of fraud as part of the Whitewater scandal), Huckabee ran for President in 2008 and won eight states in the Republican primary that eventually nominated John McCain.

Prior to his political career, Huckabee was a Baptist pastor. And following his unsuccessful first run for President, Huckabee joined Fox News and hosted a weekend show that ran for over 6 years, but had to leave the network when he announced his newest campaign. He also briefly challenged Limbaugh’s radio dominance with a short-lived show that ran during the same time slot.

Below are some of Huckabee’s views and positions.

On Healthcare

Huckabee has pledged to repeal Obamacare, but has provided little in the way of other policy specifics.

One exception is his call for a Manhattan Project-style government initiative to cure cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and other diseases, where he argues that more government spending is necessary because the private sector isn’t up to the task: “[It] has to be largely government funded because the government is the only entity that doesn’t have to have a return on investment …You put it in the hands of the private sector… [that] doesn’t make sense because there is no money long-term if you cure the disease.”

During his campaign announcement speech Huckabee also compared the desired effort to JFK’s government-funded push to reach the moon: “I remember President Kennedy telling us we’d send a man to the moon and bring him home within the decade… As President, I’d launch a curative approach to health care and save money and lives-not government programs.”

His healthcare rhetoric usually involves a focus on prevention, perhaps exemplified when he targeted junk food in schools near the end of his governorship, leading to high-calorie snacks and beverages being replaced by juice, milk, and healthy foods. After he signed another bill to track each student’s body mass index, he said he would sign similar national legislation. He also signed legislation banning smoking in most indoor spaces, and once said he’d sign a national ban on smoking in public places, but changed tune in 2008 when he said he would leave it to state and local governments.

On Foreign Policy and Security

Also during his announcement speech, Huckabee denounced Iran and stuck up for Israel, suggesting that Obama could not tell the good guys from the bad guys: “We face real threats from radical jihadism … but we put more pressure on our ally Israel to cease building bedrooms … than we do on Iran for building a bomb. …[W]hen I hear the current President say he wants Christians to get off their high horse so we can make nice with radical jihadists, I wonder if he could watch a western from the fifties and be able to figure out who the good guys and bad guys are!”

Huckabee argues that “We are at war with jihadism,” but cautions that “we are not at war with Islam.” He elaborated: “You can’t beat an enemy if you don’t define it. The sooner we accept that, the sooner we can fight it, surround it and ultimately defeat it.”

On Criminal Justice

Huckabee’s religious sensibilities likely informed his policies on criminal justice, as he issued over 1,000 pardons and commutations while governor. He does, however, support the death penalty.

Questioned in 2007 on his approach, Huckabee said, “I truly tried to look at every case, without regard to the respective person. If there were injustices, I tried to do everything I could to correct them, and for example, there were issues where I felt like African-American males were given harsher sentences, especially for drug crimes, than were upper-middle-class white kids who were arrested for the same thing.”

On the need for reform he argues that, “We have far too many bureaucratic protocols and sentencing mandates that create career criminals. This doesn’t make our streets safer — it just makes our government more expensive… Sexual predators, violent offenders, and dangerous criminals need to be locked up, but we must provide treatment options and real rehabilitation to those who struggle with drug abuse and addiction. Throwing them in prison with a long sentence is a costly, short-sighted, irresponsible response.” He cites drug courts as a possible reform, and also calls to reduce waste in the prison system.

On Culture

Huckabee is an outspoken critic of modern American culture. His book, God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy, described his reaction to a performance at the Grammy’s by Beyonce and Jay Z: “My reaction: Why? Beyonce is incredibly talented – gifted, in fact. She has an exceptional set of pipes and can actually sing. She is a terrific dancer – without the explicit moves best left for the privacy of her bedroom. Jay-Z is a very shrewd businessman, but I wonder: Does it occur to him that he is arguably crossing the line from husband to pimp by exploiting his wife as a sex object?”

He also seemingly blamed the Sandy Hook school shooting on the lack of prayer in school, saying, “We ask why there’s violence in our schools but we’ve systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage? Because we’ve made it a place where we do not want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability. That we’re not just going to have to be accountable to the police, if they catch us, but we stand one day before a holy God in judgment.”

And in response to growing calls to force accommodation for transgenders, Huckabee said, “Now, I wish that someone told me that when I was in high school that I could have felt like a woman when it came time to take showers in PE. I’m pretty sure that I would have found my feminine side and said, ‘Coach, I think I’d rather shower with the girls today.’”

On Trade

Huckabee has been a vociferous critic of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, including a swipe in his announcement speech: “[W]e don’t create good jobs for Americans by entering into unbalanced trade deals that forgo Congressional scrutiny and looking the other way as the law is ignored so we can import low wage labor, undercut American workers, and drive wages lower than the Dead Sea.”

After a vote on TPA, a procedure to guarantee an up-or-down vote in Congress on trade agreements, Huckabee said, “Republicans in Congress need to slam on the brakes and refuse to allow President Obama to fast-track a major international trade deal that’s been crafted in secret and whose details remain cloaked in mystery. Simply put, President Obama cannot be trusted to negotiate a good deal for American workers.”

He has also criticized trade with China and said, “We’ve allowed the Chinese to manipulate the trade market, to steal intellectual property, to dump products into the United States, artificially subsidize and make it very difficult for American manufacturers to compete.”

On Education

Huckabee criticizes current education policy on federalism grounds. His announcement speech argued: “There is no Constitutional authority to dictate education from the federal government. Why even have a federal department of education? It has flunked and it needs to be expelled. Education policy should be set by states, local school boards, and best of all, by the moms and dads of the children.”

He is an opponent of Common Core, arguing, “Nothing is more emblematic of Washington arrogance and reckless central planning than Common Core. The federal government has stuck its obtrusive nose into local education and hijacked the system. We must kill Common Core and restore common sense.” And although he resisted vouchers in Arkansas, Huckabee now claims to be a supporter of school choice.

Mike Huckabee - Election 2016
Source: Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

On Budget and Taxes

As Governor of Arkansas, Huckabee began his tenure with large tax cuts. This included a $70 million income tax cut, which was the state’s first broad-based cut in 20 years, and soon after a large cut of the state’s capital gains tax.

Later, however, Huckabee changed course and raised taxes to finance spending increases, including an expansion of Medicaid. From 1997 to 2007 general fund spending in the state grew by 54 percent, fueled by tax increases on gasoline, cigarettes, and sales, and a three percent personal income surtax. Accordingly, his grades from the Cato Institute’s Fiscal Policy Report Card consistently deteriorated throughout his tenure, down from an initial B to an F, and his full two-terms were rated a D. Overall during his tenure state taxes increased by more than $500 million.

Huckabee is a supporter of the Fair Tax, which is a form of national sales tax designed to replace the income tax entirely.

On Marriage

Huckabee slammed the Supreme Court following its recent decision prohibiting states from recognizing only opposite-sex marriages but not also same-sex marriages, accusing it of seeking not just to be a Supreme Court but also a “Supreme Being.” He said, “Today was not a ruling about same-sex marriage, that’s what I keep hearing. This was not quality of marriage, this was about redefinition of marriage, and Scalia got it right. The rest of the majority … got it incredibly wrong.”

After the backlash against religious freedom laws in Indiana, Huckabee argued that the “militant gay community” forced companies to come out against the legislation and that they “won’t stop until there are no more churches, until there are no more people who are spreading the Gospel.”

On Abortion

Huckabee is pro-life, and lamented during his announcement speech that “we have witnessed the slaughter of over 55 million babies in the name of choice.” He extends his opposition to include cases of rape and invest, and argues the only exception to abortion laws should be when the life of the mother is at stake.

On Immigration

Huckabee opposes amnesty and calls for the border to be secured. “We need to address the immigration issue, but not with amnesty, but start by taking control of our own borders,” he said during his announcement speech.

While Governor of Arkansas he pushed for a bill that would have included granting in-state tuition for illegal immigrants if they completed three years in Arkansas high schools and graduated, and then signed an affidavit saying that they intended to pursue citizenship.

On Energy and the Environment

As Governor Huckabee called combating global warming a “moral issue.” He said, “We have a responsibility to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, to conserve energy, to find alternative forms of energy that are renewable and sustainable and environmentally friendly,” and pledged support for cap-and-trade. In 2010 Huckabee denied that he ever supported cap-and-trade and said he never would.

Huckabee favors ethanol subsidies, brushing aside accusations of pandering by saying, “It’s not just ‘It’s Iowa, it’s a caucus state, we better suck up to them.’ We need the broadest possible energy portfolio so America will never at a point be held hostage.”

He also alluded to support for expansion of domestic exploration and production in his announcement speech: “We have enough energy resources under our feet to bring affordable energy to America and become the largest exporter so that Americans prosper in developing the energy and aren’t impoverished by paying for it when produced by a Saudi Sheik or a Russian robber-baron.”

On Welfare

From his announcement speech: “A record number of people are enrolled in government operated help programs like food stamps, not because they want to be in poverty, but because they are part of the bottom earning 90% of American workers whose wages have been stagnant for 40 years. The war on poverty hasn’t ended poverty; it’s prolonged it. I don’t judge the success of government by how many people are on assistance, but by how many people have good jobs and don’t need government assistance.”

On Social Security and Medicare

Huckabee has criticized Republican proposals for means testing and raising the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare. He said such reforms are an ‘insult’ to Americans and would “rip this rug out from under people who have dutifully paid in their entire lives to a system.”

He tellingly referred to the entitlement programs as “safety nets” while reiterating this argument during his announcement speech: “Some propose that to save safety nets like Medicare and Social Security, we need to chop off the payouts for the people who have faithfully had their paychecks and pockets picked by the politicians promising that their money would be waiting for them when they were old and sick. …If Congress wants to take away someone’s retirement, let them end their own Congressional pensions-not your Social Security. As President, I promise you will get what you paid for!”

In contrast, he has said he would only support giving an option to take a lump-sum payment upon retirement and changing the existing programs just for those who are now entering the workforce.

Read more about Election 2016.

This report is for informational purposes only. Nothing within should be construed as endorsement by the author of either the candidate or his positions on the issues.


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