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Interview with Bob Schieffer on CBS News' "Face the Nation"

April 08, 2007

SCHIEFFER: And joining us this morning from Little Rock, Arkansas, governor--former Governor Mike Huckabee. He is a candidate who is different. Among other things, he's the only candidate that is offering diet advice to voters. He is also a candidate who says what he thinks, and he is one of the more interesting people around politics, if I do say so.

Governor, welcome. And I want to start right in with something you said to one of the Arkansas papers, the Pine Bluff Commercial Appeal. It really caught my eye because what you said is that some Republicans, particularly Christian evangelicals, talk as if Republican candidates are not going to be held to a standard of personal accountability and responsibility for their personal lives. And you went on to say, if that is true, there are going to be a lot of Republicans who owe Bill Clinton a great big public apology.

What do you mean by that, governor, and who are you talking about? I assume you're talking about Rudy Giuliani, among others.

HUCKABEE: I'm really not talking about the candidates so much, Bob, as I am about Christian leaders who were very vocal in speaking out about Bill Clinton's personal life and his behavior. And if those same standards don't apply to Republicans, then it's just a matter of sheer hypocrisy. Principles have to be applied to all of us, and it shouldn't be applied differently to Republicans or Democrats. Now, that--that gate ought to swing both ways. Republicans have to be fair to Democrats, Democrats need to be fair to Republicans. Whatever standard we set, we ought to all just be honest about it and make that the standard for everybody. And that's what has concerned me, is that there's sort of a almost this, well, "things are going to be different in this election cycle." Well, principles don't change. People do, but principles and basic standards of decency and appropriate behavior shouldn't change, and we shouldn't make exceptions just because we happen to maybe be in the same party.

SCHIEFFER: Well, but I take it what you're saying is there ought to be a thorough examination of all the candidates' personal lives, for example that Rudy Giuliani has been married three times, John McCain twice. And you're saying that Republicans ought to do that. Is that what you're saying here?

HUCKABEE: Well, I'm saying that we're going to be evaluated, all of us who run for president. In fact, we were evaluated as we ran for governor in my case, or mayor in the case of Giuliani or others. I'm just saying that those who claim that they represent a certain branch of our party, primarily the Christian evangelicals, got into politics because of adherence to certain moral principles. Now, if those moral principles no longer are the driving force, they render their whole purpose for being in politics irrelevant, and that's why I think we have to sort of--I'm not calling out the candidates, I'm calling out the Christian leaders and saying if you're going to be Christian leaders, then be Christian leaders. Don't just be political players, because then you defy the very reason that you claim you needed to be involved in the political process.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me ask you about another rather unusual thing you said. You said Hillary Clinton is focused, you said she is disciplined and you--and she said--you said she is brilliant. I guess I have to ask you, if your campaign doesn't work out and she wins, are you angling for a place in her Cabinet?

HUCKABEE: No. I don't think she'd ask me, and I don't think I'd accept. And truly, those are words that I said spoken simply as an observation of having known her. I think that's why I'm the best candidate on the Republican side. I know her better than anybody else on the Republican ticket running, and I know how, frankly, how dangerous she can be as a candidate. That's one of the reasons that I believe that my candidacy offers the clearest contrast and an opportunity for America to have maybe a real solid choice.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let's talk about some of the other Republican candidates. Mitt Romney, for example, he seems to be having some problems with--he seems to have developed some, I guess I would say some evolving positions. He said one thing when he was governor of Massachusetts and when he was running for that office. He now seems to be saying some quite different things. For example, he recently revealed that he had just joined or that he was a member of the NRA, the National Rifle Association and said he was a life-long hunter. And then we find out that, his campaign said, well, actually, he'd only been hunting twice. What do you make of that, governor?

HUCKABEE: Well, certainly, he's wanting to appeal to a lot of the voters that I think I naturally appeal to, and that's folks in the South and people in the Midwest and, for that matter, people in New Hampshire who truly value their Second Amendment rights. And it's not just about hunting, but hunting certainly is a part of it. I think it was, you know, the major mistake to try to portray himself--"I've been a life-long hunter,' when he's been twice. It'd be like me saying, "I've been a life-long golfer' because I played putt-putt when I was nine years old and I rode in a golf cart a couple of times. The best thing to do is just say, "Look, here's who I am. I support this issue, but I'm not particularly close to it."

Let me--let me say that I have a great respect for Rudy Giuliani, who--who I thought made a real gutsy move in South Carolina this week when he said that he still supports federal funding for abortion. Now, I disagree with him. I don't think we ought to use federal tax dollars for abortion, and I wouldn't if I were president. But I thought it was at least a statement of extraordinary honesty and candor on the part of Giuliani that he would go into South Carolina, a very pro-life environment, and just say, "Look, this is who I am. I'm not going to change just to get your votes.' And I think American people are looking for authenticity, they're looking for people whose statements today match what they said five, 10, 15, 20 years ago, and match with what they've done in office, match their record with their rhetoric.

SCHIEFFER: Let's talk a little bit about the money side of it. Mr. Romney, I think--well, let's just take a look at the figures as what some of these national Republicans have raised. Romney has now raised, we are told, $23 million; Rudy Giuliani, $15 million; John McCain, $12 1/2 million. You, at this point, have raised about a half million dollars.


SCHIEFFER: We're going to have a very different kind of campaign this time. We'll have Iowa. We'll have New Hampshire. But then, in early February, maybe as many as 30 states holding primaries on the same day. That means we're basically going to have a national campaign, and you can't campaign in all those states at one time. So it's--money is going to play a tremendous role, a more important role than ever. Frankly, I find that somewhat obscene. But how do you, as someone who's not even raised $1 million yet, how can you possibly compete in that kind of an environment?

HUCKABEE: Well, Bob, it--I think the word "obscene" is a great word to use. This is a time when people're talking about $100 million before the end of the year. If that's the case, do you really want someone in charge of the federal treasury who burns $100 million before the first vote is cast? I think that is obscene.

Now, what I would remind people is that a lot of people are talking about how much money was raised in the first quarter, and it's sort of like saying, "Gee, the first quarter is the whole game,' but it isn't. I've only been at this about six and a half weeks. We started from ground zero, didn't have a capacity to transfer money from a Senate account. We've met our rather modest fund-raising goals for the first reporting period because we got a late start. The question is not how much I raised in the first quarter, but how much am I going to continue to raise over the next two and three quarters. And that's where we feel like it's got to happen. Plus, this is the kind of environment in which a candidate can catch fire and people go to the Web site that he has and make contributions over the Internet, and I could raise $20 million overnight if everyone watching this show just simply went and said, "I'll make $100 contribution.' The point is that things could change so rapidly.

SCHIEFFER: Well, governor, that's kind of a big if. I mean, you know, they always say, you know, the dog could've caught the rabbit if he hadn't stopped to make that phone call.


SCHIEFFER: But, I mean--I mean, reality is reality. You're going to have to have a tremendous sum of money to even have a chance. I'm not saying that's fair...


SCHIEFFER: ...but it's simply the golf course that politics is played on these days. And--and I just--it's not clear to me how you can get from there to here.

HUCKABEE: Well, it--again, if--if I thought that I'd raised all the money that I was going to realistically raise, I'd be out of it today. But what I'm telling you is, we're on the front end of our fund-raising, not on the back side. We have two biggest fund-raisers that we've had to date that haven't even happened. One that'll happen this month, one in May, that I think are going to do--be the kind of events that give us the opportunity to keep going. But our miles per gallon, I would say, is pretty darned impressive because, with very modest fund-raising so far and the fact that we've only been at it a few weeks, not several months or in the case of some candidates several years, we're still competitive and...

SCHIEFFER: All right.

HUCKABEE: ...are growing momentum rather than trying to run on the fumes of what momentum I've had.

SCHIEFFER: OK. Well, let's talk a little bit about what you're for and what you're against. I noticed that you said at one point, "We have to stop driving God out of the public square." You are an evangelical, I take it?


SCHIEFFER: What is the connection between government and God in your view?

HUCKABEE: Well, the First Amendment's pretty clear, and it's simply this, that government should neither prefer or prohibit the practice of religions. Government shouldn't go and tell people how to worship or even that they should worship. Government ought to have a hands-off attitude. But what government shouldn't do is to tell people that they can't or put restrictions. And so I think we've made something complicated out of something that the founding fathers really made very simple in the First Amendment. You neither prefer one religion over another, but you don't prohibit the free exercise thereof. And so when there are efforts made, whether it's because of political correctness or court decisions that have run amok, where you say you can't have a nativity scene or a menorah on capitol grounds, that's absurd..

SCHIEFFER: All right.

HUCKABEE: We ought to be able to welcome the discussion of faith in the public square.

SCHIEFFER: And where do you come down on the war?

HUCKABEE: We got to win, it's simple as that. We can't just pull away and demoralize our military and create an incredible instability in the Middle East. I think it's a wrong-headed decision on the part of some of the Democrats who want to set a firm timetable and announce it. That's like playing football and saying, "We're only playing through the middle of the third quarter and then we're leaving, regardless of the score." Well, that's a sure way to know that your opponent doesn't have to be better than you, doesn't have to beat you, just has to stay on the field until you've already announced you're going to leave.

SCHIEFFER: Governor, we have to end it there, and I would also like to congratulate you on actually losing 100 pounds. I know you see obesity as a big problem in this country, and you have shown...

HUCKABEE: Yes, I do.

SCHIEFFER: ...by your example that something can be done about this problem. Thank you very much. You're an interesting interview, and we wish you the best.

HUCKABEE: Thank you, and happy Easter to you and all your viewers.

Mike Huckabee, Interview with Bob Schieffer on CBS News' "Face the Nation" Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/279154

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