Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee on his book, Do The Right Thing
HH: This hour, a long conversation with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, presidential candidate, now crossing the country promoting his brand new book, Do The Right Thing, climbing bestseller lists everywhere. Governor, welcome back, good to have you on the program.
MH: Hello, Hugh.
HH: Hey, good to hear you, friend. Governor, lots to cover here. First question, though, is do you regret starting the blood feud between Conan O’Brien, John Stewart and Stephen Colbert?
MH: Hello, Hugh, I just ducked out for a minute. I think you were asking me about the conflict that Conan O’Brien and Stephen Colbert and John Stewart all had.
HH: That’s right. Do you regret starting a feud of that depth and enmity?
MH: No, I think those guys need to fight it out. And may the best man win.
HH: Governor, I brought that up because I was reminded of that after reading Do The Right Thing. You really didn’t leave any time to go after Mitt Romney in this book, did you?
MH: (laughing) Well, you know, there’s a few mentions, but it’s really not about Mitt Romney. I think there have been some points about it, and in telling the story of the campaign, certainly mentioned some specific incidences. But this book is about moving ahead to the future. What does the Republican Party need to do to get its groove back? And quite frankly, I think anybody that’s been looking at the results would have to admit that the truck is in the ditch, there’s some problems in our party, and unfortunately, a lot of the advice that we’re getting is that we need to make a real swerve to the left, and that’s where we’re going to crash and burn if we do that. It would be the biggest mistake we could make, because people aren’t rejecting Republicans because of their conservatism. They’re rejecting Republicans because we didn’t live up to our principles that we espouse. We said one thing, we did another. We’re bailing out all these Wall Street companies, we’re bailing out banks, we’re bailout out everybody except middle class people. And if we keep doing this, we’re going to be an absolutely irrelevant party within another generation.
HH: Well Governor, I want to get to all that. We’ve got a lot of time. I want to get to the fair tax, I want to get to a number of things. But obviously, the headlines about the book do concern Romney. And I went through it, line by line, page by page, read the whole thing. There are more mentions of Romney in this book that there are of either John McCain or even of your campaign manager, Chip Saltzman. Do you regret the focus at the end on your opponent?
MH: No, I don’t, because I think a lot of the focus during the campaign was about Mitt Romney. And the reason I didn’t talk more about John McCain, though I talk about him quite a bit, was that the book was put to bed after the primary had completed. I wanted to be careful not to say something that might be harmful to John McCain’s candidacy. And Mitt Romney and I were both out of the race. I talked about Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani, but I don’t think I was unfair, and I don’t think I was untrue. Everything in the book, I think I can back up. And there’s not a thing in that book that isn’t verifiable and factual.
HH: Governor, you don’t mention the word Mormon once in this book. Is that…
MH: There’s a reason for that.
HH: Which is what?
MH: I don’t care, that never had an issue with me. I’ve said many times that some of the best public servants I know are members of the Mormon Church – John Huntsman, Orrin Hatch, Bob Smith. You know, that’s never been an issue. I was accused of treading upon his faith, and that is absolutely untrue, never was the truth. I’ve often said that whether or not a person is a Mormon, or even for that matter, an atheist, I just want them to tell us who they are, what their value system is, and their frame of reference. But I on many occasions defended not only Mitt Romney’s Mormonism, but more recently, the Mormon Church on my television show nationally, and in other printed material, when I talked about how that I felt like they were under persecution for having been willing and having the guts to stand up during the Proposition 8 debate in California. Thank God they were out there. And they’ve been a strong advocate for traditional marriage, and I think we ought to appreciate them for that.
HH: Now Governor, about a year ago, actually next month, you were quoted in the New York Times Sunday Magazine as saying, “Don’t Mormons Believe that Jesus and the Devil are brothers?” Now I know you’ve explained that before, but it’s not in the book, which is a memoir of the campaign. Why would you leave out that major issue?
MH: Well, because it was a completely misrepresented issue. It was a conversation with a reporter. It was an 11,000 word story, or 10,000 word story, and there were 11 words in it that really was a question that came in the context of the conversation because he was explaining to me specific doctrines of the Mormon Church. He was quite familiar with it. I wasn’t. And I asked him if that were in fact the doctrine of the Church. And the next thing is it ended up in the article as a part of it. The Associated Press lifted that out as if that was main focus of the conversation. I personally went to Mitt Romney in Des Moines, on a stage, looked at him in the face, told him I was sorry, that I would never had intended to have done something that would have been disparaging, and that it absolutely was not my intention to disparage any doctrine of his faith. And that’s just the long and the short of it.
HH: Where did you get that idea?
MH: Well, frankly, I’ve been told by people who had been Mormons that they did believe that Jesus and the Devil came out of the same stock. One went wrong, one went right. That’s why I asked it.
HH: Okay, now Governor, in terms of your Mormon problem, I know I’m going to get a host of e-mails. I’m an Evangelical like you. I understand what it means to disagree with him on theology completely. But I get a host of e-mail about you every time you come up on the subject. You’ve got a Mormon problem out there. Do you run into that on the road? Do people come up to you and say hey, you did us wrong, you did us bad?
MH: Well, not if they’ve done their homework, not if they’ve actually looked at what I’ve said through the many months. If they take something like that incident, and they take the way that political opponents tried to misrepresent it, sure they think that. But if they’ve ever listened to me, if they’ve ever heard anything that I’ve actually said about the Mormon Church, no they don’t have a problem. There’s no reason they would.
HH: One more Romney question, then I want to get to the fair tax, Governor, in the first segment. You got quite angry with him for not calling you on the night of the Iowa Caucuses. Isn’t that right?
MH: It wasn’t anger, no. It was frustration, because we were trying to meet the deadlines of not only the print journalists, but the networks were having. We were all waiting in order to sort of go on stage in a sequence. That’s the way it normally works. And there’s kind of an unspoken code of people lining up. You know, you have both Republicans and Democrats in these primary and caucus nights in the early days. And so each campaign is calling the other and saying when is your guy going to take the stage, because we want to sort of make sure that our guy doesn’t take the stage at the same time, that way everybody gets their moment of airtime on the various cable networks. But we typically don’t go up and claim victory until the chief opponent has conceded. That’s just a courtesy. It’s the way it’s normally done. And we waited and we waited. We got a call from John McCain, we got one from Rudy Giuliani, never heard from Mitt Romney ever.
MH: And so we were trying to figure out when do we go? Is it impolite for us to go and to claim the victory in the caucuses when the opponent hadn’t conceded? Typically you don’t do that. It’s nice to go to the stage and say I’ve just talked to my opponent, he has called and congratulated me, and that’s just the way it’s normally done, Hugh.
HH: Now after the Ames straw poll, which Romney won and you came in second, did you call him?
MH: I believe I did.
HH: Okay. So turnabout is then fair play? You expected him to call you because you had called him?
MH: Well, and I called Mitt on the times like when he won Michigan. I called him. When he won, oh, I’m trying to think, what other states early on like that that he won, I did call.
HH: Well, Ames was first, right? Ames was the first one.
MH: Yeah, but it was a straw poll, it wasn’t an actual election. But I’m pretty sure we called Mitt that night. But I know I called him on all those primary nights, and I called John McCain. In fact, it got to be sort of a standing joke after a while. I’d call John McCain and I’d say I’m getting sick of these phone calls. I’d like for you to make one to me sometime. It was just a courtesy. It’s just what people do when they run for office.
HH: Given the amount of attention that’s been focused on the Romney bashing in the book, Governor, do you regret that it’s that much of the book?
MH: Well, I don’t think it is that much of the book. I think it’s really a book about the future of the party. I think it’s a book that talks about the reason the sanctity of life issue is important. It talks about the importance of self-government, that that’s really the best government of all, that we can lower taxes and lessen government size and grip, but only if we understand that our system of government cannot operate in a moral vacuum. It has to operate in the context of people who are ethical, upright, moral and who are honest. And if we don’t have that kind of citizenry, our system simply won’t function. It will collapse within itself, and I think that’s what we’re beginning to see.
HH: Now Governor…
MH: I also talk about the fair tax, I talk about health care. I have a whole chapter dedicated to how money plays too much of an unholy influence on the process of politics. I talk about the role that hardcore libertarian is playing and really creating a tension within the Republican Party. I discuss at length the way that Evangelicals themselves…
HH: In fact, Governor, on that point…
HH: On Page 109, you denounce the faux cons in the 2008 election cycle from the so-called Ron Paul revolution. Now I wasn’t a Ron Paul fan, either, but there were lots of them out there. It was kind of unusual. Why diminish them that way?
MH: No, no, no. If you’ll read it, I pay tribute to Ron Paul. I talk about that there are libertarians, some of whom followed Ron Paul, I went on to say that I really had great respect for Ron Paul because he had deep convictions and he stood by them. And frankly, a lot of the things he stands for I agree with. What I was talking about was the Ayn Rand kind of libertarianism that says that we don’t want to hear about the social issues. Don’t talk to us about abortion and sanctity of life, don’t talk to us about same sex marriage, because the only things we want to talk about are cutting taxes and lowering government. It’s not unlike what you heard in Kathleen Parker’s column when she said last week that she thinks the Republicans have a God problem, and all the, what is it, the oogity boogity religious people need to disappear and go away.
HH: I hope not, because I’m one of them, so are you. I’ll be right back.
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HH: Governor Huckabee, as we went to break, we were talking about Evangelicals and Kathleen Parker’s article. In Pages 58, 59 & 60 of Do The Right Thing, you talk about your dust-ups with Chris Matthews and Wolf Blitzer on the question of evolution. And you describe the question about whether or not people believe in evolution as a, “ridiculous question, given that no president in American history has ever written the text of an eighth grade science textbook, and has no role in such things.” But I’m just curious, why not just say yes or no and move past it?
MH: Well, that’s exactly what I did, Hugh. If you watched the debates, not only did I say very clearly that I believed in Creation, but one of the most often hit upon You Tube videos in the entire presidential campaign was the answer that I gave at Anselm College…no, it was the University of New Hampshire during one of the CNN debates when Wolf Blitzer kept pressing me about the issue. And I went through and gave him a minute and a half specifically, that I absolutely believe that in the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth. I went on to describe that how He did it and how long it took I didn’t know, but the one thing I did know was that it didn’t just happen all by itself, that I believe that there was a God behind it, and that if he wanted to think that I was stupid for believing that, that was fine. But here I stand, and I will do no other.
HH: So you’re not a seven…
MH: And the crowd broke out in applause. I mean, I was pretty clear about where I stood.
HH: But I think it’s a fair question, because it’s about Creationism and what’s going to get taught, and the example the president…I’m referring to your idea that it’s a ridiculous question. I don’t think it is. I think it’s great to know where someone comes from when it comes to the origin of life. Do you really think it’s ridiculous to ask a presidential candidate that?
MH: Well, especially when you haven’t asked him anything about overall education, health care policy, haven’t asked him about energy independence, infrastructure of the nation, haven’t asked him about whether or not you believe our policy in Iraq is appropriate. I mean, when the only question you get is do you believe in evolution, I’m thinking gosh, I want to be president of the United States. I’m not even running for secretary of education. My point is that it’s fine to ask me, but if that’s the only think you’re going to bring up, it’s an absurd question to ask a person who wants to be president, because education is a state issue. The federal government doesn’t dictate curriculum, doesn’t have a role, really, in deciding what kind of curriculum we’ll use at the local level. That is a state and a local decision.
HH: But it’s a gotcha question. I know that, and the rest of the country knows that, and it’s sort of a test of a candidate as to whether or not they can handle gotcha questions.
MH: Well, and obviously I could handle it, because I sure gave him one that was seen by more people across America than about anything that was asked in the debates. So it wasn’t that I was reticent to answer. I was clear to give it. But I was a governor for ten and a half years. I was a lieutenant governor for three years. It was frustrating to me that after the efforts that I had done to reform education in my state, to cut taxes in my state, to build roads in my state, to deal with the health care and become known as a health care reformer, one of the five best governors in America by Time Magazine because of those sorts of things, that I’d get to these debates and they’d ask me all the religious questions as if I’d just stepped out of a pulpit last Sunday and ran for president out of the clear blue. That was my frustration. I had more executive experience running a government than anybody on that stage, than anybody, Democrat or Republican, who ran for president this last year. And my frustration was in the first eleven debates, there was not one question on education, not one. There was only one question on health care, and every debate, we would spend forty-five minutes to an hour going through Iraq and immigration, largely Iraq, three or four candidates got most all of the time. Your candidate, Mitt Romney, would get 22 minutes, John McCain would get 20-22 minutes. Rudy Giuliani would get a bunch of time. I’d get four to six minutes. The rest of us would get, you know, anywhere from, sometimes candidates would get three minutes, but no more than six or seven. And so it really wasn’t an opportunity for the American people to find out what kind of president we would be. And the point that I make in the book, particularly the chapter on the elections about E-Bay, which I think people ought to read if they think that there’s something wrong with our process, is that the media decided who was going to be given time not because they had good ideas, but simply by the amount of money that they had raised, and how many staffers they had in South Carolina, Iowa or New Hampshire. And that may not reflect whether or not they really would give the kind of leadership to this country that we need to get out of some of the messes we’re in.
HH: Governor, I did note a lot of emphasis on fundraising in the book, and your complaints about the system. But isn’t it just a given how much Obama raised this time that the next Republican presidential candidate’s going to have to go to the public and raise a whole bunch of money in $2,300 dollar segments? Isn’t that just a part of life now?
MH: Well, I mean I think certainly money has become a ridiculous part of it, and especially in the Obama case, what made it really unfortunate is that the media let him off the hook for saying he was going to do the public financing, and then turning around and not so he could raise about four times the amount of money that he would have had to have lived with had he done what he promised. He broke a promise. So if the man breaks a promise to get a job, will he break a promise when he gets the job? Probably so.
HH: But I go back to the issue, though. Don’t Republicans have to look for candidates who can raise money on par with this massive Democratic fundraising machine? And doesn’t that make a question about your ability to raise money legitimate?
MH: Not totally. I had a tenth of the amount of money some of the other candidates had, and I got further than they did. The people of America are smart enough to know that just because you can raise money, if you can’t raise ideas and hopes and expectations, it’s not a given that you’re necessarily going to be elected. Does money play an important role? Yes it does. But Barack Obama spent four times McCain’s money, didn’t get four times the vote. Again, Mitt Romney spent ten times what I spent. I got more delegates than he did. If you look at the total amount of money that people spent, look at Rudy Giuliani. I think he spent something like, what, $60 million dollars? He got zero delegates.
HH: Governor, through…for the benefit of the audience because I’m going to get dinged on this if I don’t point it out, through the time Romney dropped out, did he have more votes than you did?
MH: I don’t know. I’d have to go back and look at where things were at the time that he dropped out. But I know that by the time it was over, we had come in second with delegates and votes.
HH: But it was just you and McCain at that point. So I just want to make sure the audience knows I understand that. I don’t think that matters that much. Let me go to the fair tax, Governor. You have a big emphasis on the fair tax in the new book. But I’ve always said it’s not going to pass because the mortgage interest deduction matters to too many people, and does the charitable deduction. What would you do about the mortgage interest deduction and the charitable deduction under the fair tax?
MH: Well, when people have more money, they’re going to contribute. I don’t know too many people that give solely because it’s a deductible. Usually they give out of a heart of generosity. And if they don’t, then they may not be giving for the right reason. I don’t make my giving decisions. My wife and I tithe, and we give above a tithe, but we don’t do that because we’re going to get a tax deduction. We do it because we have a responsibility to God to be faithful stewards of all that He’s given us. Quite frankly, I think that the issue of home mortgage, think about this. When a person buys a home, they’re going to buy that with their whole paycheck, something they’ve never done before. And the cost of the home will not include an embedded cost of some 22% when it’s based on all the amount of money that’s hidden and not transparent because of the fact that corporations have to add their taxes on top of the products when they sell them, including a home.
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HH: We’re talking the fair tax. Governor Huckabee, when we went to break, I just wanted to confirm that your understanding of the fair tax is like mine, that it would require the elimination of the mortgage interest deduction and the charitable deduction, correct?
MH: It would, mainly because the key to making the fair tax work is keeping it simple. The reason that people are in such trouble with their taxes is because there’s 67,000 pages of tax code. There are 35,000 lobbyists in Washington, which means there’s 70 lobbyists for each member of Congress, and they’re primarily there to create winners and losers in the tax code, to give some people a break, and create burdens for others. The fair tax eliminates that. It’s fair, it’s finite, it’s family friendly, and it’s flat. And what it also does, it ends the underground economy, and it would bring about $13 trillion, that’s right, $13 trillion dollars of capital back to the U.S. that’s currently parked offshore just to keep it away from the tax code.
HH: What would happen to home values, though, Governor, for homes bought on the assumption of the mortgage interest deduction when suddenly it’s removed?
MH: Well, the home values would still have their value for the simple reason that the home is worth something not because of its tax consequence. It’s worth something because it’s a place to live and it has long term value. Now here’s what people need to remember, that if you have your whole paycheck, you’re going to have more disposable income than you currently have. You’re not going to be paying taxes for you as well as for all the illegals, for all the prostitutes, the pimps, the gamblers and the drug dealers, which is what you do right now.
HH: But do you think a house that was bought for $100,000 dollars the day or the year before the fair tax passes is still going to be worth $100,000 dollars after it passes?
MH: No, I think it will be probably worth every bit, if not more. The fair tax isn’t going to make a difference in the value of the home. And if it’s a used home, Hugh, you don’t pay taxes on it. You only pay taxes on something that’s new. So that’s…why would it lose any value? I’m not sure why it would lose value.
HH: I’ve just read the analysis that it would because people assume an interest deduction value into the purchase price of a house. And so you say it doesn’t…
MH: You know, I’ve bought many houses through the years. I’ve never bought one solely because I thought it was going to provide a deduction. I bought it because I wanted a place to live, I like the house and I could make the payments.
HH: But lots of people do, Governor. Just because…I mean, lots of people buy it, investors buy it, to rent their houses, don’t they?
MH: Yeah, but you know, wouldn’t it be great if everybody made good business decisions rather than tax decisions? Ask any small business owner what’s his greatest challenge, and it’s having to make decisions based on the tax code rather than whether or not it’s good for business. The problem with the current tax system is that it penalizes productivity. If you reward the things that you need to be doing more of, and you penalize the things you should be doing less of, that makes more sense than doing what we currently do, which is we penalize productivity and work and savings and investment, and we reward the kind of really completely reckless behavior that has caused Wall Street firms to melt down. We’re now trying to bail out Wall Street firms not because they’ve done a great job, but because they’ve totally screwed up in the management of their assets and resources. That doesn’t make any sense.
HH: Now Governor, does the fair tax also apply to state and local government purchases?
MH: It would apply to any purchases with the exception of education. And the thing is that in every case, what you end up with is a tax system that becomes simplified. You don’t have the $250-500 billion dollars of tax compliance which doesn’t produce anything, it doesn’t create anything, it’s simply just an amount of money that goes to handle the paperwork and create mounds of unnecessary burden for particularly small business owners.
HH: But if I’m in…
MH: I’ve yet to meet a person who totally understood the fair tax, I mean, who really did get it, who said it was a bad economic idea, because remember, Hugh, this wasn’t designed by me. I wish I had. But this was designed by some of the top economists in the country.
HH: I understand. But Governor, the one thing I always come back to is fair tax people never answer my objections, which, and they’re just practical, because I love the idea in concept. But if you’re in the state of California right now, which is broke, broke, broke, and you start to tax the state of California 23% on everything it buys, aren’t they going to be out of 23% more money than they haven’t got already?
MH: No, because what they buy, they’re going to buy with products that are going to be at least 22% less expensive than they were because they’re not going to have embedded tax in them. You remember something, one of the reasons we’re losing manufacturing jobs, let’s just use this example. If you build a chair in North Carolina, and it comes to the showroom floor, it’s got 22% embedded tax in it. Build the same chair in China, it’s not levied any taxes, it leaves the country or when it enters this country. It sits on the showroom floor, and it is automatically 22% less of a cost. That doesn’t even include the fact that you perhaps got some very cheap labor costs in China. And we wonder why we’re losing manufacturing jobs. Is it because Americans can’t produce things? Nope. It’s because our tax code is making it impossible for our American manufacturers to compete, because they have to embed the tax. Taxpayers don’t even see it. I think one of the best things that could happen to the tax system is that if people actually understood what they were paying in taxes when they paid it…
HH: I’ll be right back with Governor Mike Huckabee. His brand new book is Do The Right Thing. It’s at Amazon.com, it’s in bookstores everywhere.
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HH: Governor, here’s a contradiction in the book, and I read it very closely. On some places like Page 70, you denounce “yuppie greedheads”. Another place, you’re assaulting the management of Halliburton and Home Depot and Pfizer. And then in another place, you’re palling around at the ranch of Chuck Norris, whose done very well in life, and it’s a very funny chapter, by the way. I wish I’d been there when you were filming this commercial. But when is accumulated wealth okay, and when do you find it a reason to denounce someone like a yuppie greedhead? I mean, what’s the difference between a yuppie greedhead and Chuck Norris?
MH: A couple of fists. That’s the big difference.
MH: Now look…
HH: Oh, you’re good, Governor.
MH: I think that there is absolutely a wonderful, wonderful thing in people who work hard and earn a lot of money, and I think that’s terrific. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. Economically, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it Biblically. Having wealth is not a sin if you get it honestly and you’re responsible with it. And you’ve read the book, and I appreciate it. But I mean clearly, what I talk about in the book is not people who are wealthy, not even CEOs who are paid well. What I specifically referred to are CEOs who get paid hundreds of times their employees, and run their companies in the ground. If the CEO is getting paid very, very well, but the company is doing great, terrific, he ought to be paid well. I don’t care what he gets paid. And let me be real clear, which I have been. I don’t want the government setting a CEO’s salary. It’s not a government’s job. The last thing I want is for the government to do it.
HH: Governor, you could take a challenge on that, couldn’t you?
MH: What’s that?
HH: On Page 129, you write that, “The Exxon Mobil CEO retired with almost $400 million, and you wonder why gas prices are so high.” That company’s done very, very well. Why single him out and assault his $400 million, and by the way, you surely don’t believe that’s why gas prices are so high.
MH: No, I think there are a lot of factors in it. But the point is that is his efforts on that company’s behalf worth that? And my question is to the corporate board. This isn’t a government question. But it goes to the heart. When you have corporate boards that allow incredible, just unbelievable salaries that don’t match anything else within the economy, then again, it’s legal, it’s perfectly fine if you want to talk about the legal aspects of it. But what I’m trying to say, the whole theme of the book, Do The Right Thing, is that the right thing when you’re laying off people who are handling the bags and lifting the heavy stuff, and the executives are getting $400 million buyout bonuses? Now that’s an ethical question. It’s not a legal question, it’s an ethical one. And I think that we need to challenge the ethical behavior, because if you’ve got, let’s say the GM CEO flying over to Washington in a Gulfstream asking for a bailout from the taxpayers, you want to wonder. Okay, which single mom out there will have to pay her taxes so that we can bail out a company that has an incredible structural problem, like car companies do. Is that the responsibility of the American taxpayer?
HH: Well, let’s use your pal Norris again, though. On what basis are we going to judge his ethics for however much money he made in movies, when we don’t know that? And I just think it’s the class warfare issue that Republicans generally don’t go around beating up people for doing well, regardless of their stature. I mean, we just don’t do that.
MH: Oh, I don’t beat them up for doing well. I beat them up for not making sure that the people who helped them to do so well are also given some consideration. Here’s my problem, Hugh. You’ve got companies where the CEO gets huge bonuses, and the employees at the bottom get pink slips and they lose their pension plans. Now can you as a Christian, because I know you’re a Believer like me, can you read the book of Proverbs, or the Sermon on the Mount, and come to the conclusion that it’s okay for a person to basically screw over his employees, walk away with the profits of the company, and not care what happens to the people who helped him get those profits?
HH: Well, I’ll give it back to you, Governor. I don’t know enough about each of those individuals to denounce the management of Halliburton, Circuit City, Sun Microsystem, Verizon. As a Christian, I can’t judge these people. I don’t know, but yet I think you do encourage people judging everyone who makes a lot of money as morally bankrupt.
MH: Oh, not at all. Not at all. In fact, I think I’m very clear that when people can make money, they ought to be saluted, and I’m delighted for them. I hope to make more myself. But my point would be that if you’re leading your company into bankruptcy, if you’re taking your company into Chapter 11 or Chapter 7, or if you take your company into a place where it’s sold off for pennies on the dollar of what it once was worth, why should you get the golden parachute, and the rest of the people jump out of the plane without so much as an umbrella?
HH: I encourage people to read it. We’re running low on time, I want to cover a couple more things. You have a conversation with Pastor Hagee in this book, Governor, on Page 56, where you asked if he’d prayed about the presidential endorsement he made, and believed that this is what the Lord wanted him to do. I didn’t get a straight answer. Did you want his endorsement, Mike Huckabee?
MH: I would have loved it, sure. I wanted anyone’s endorsement. I never ran from one. And Pastor Hagee and I have some sharp disagreements on some issues, particularly his view, I don’t know if he still holds it, but his one time view of the Catholic Church, because about half my staff were Catholics. I’ve been close friends with Catholics. The Catholic bishop in Arkansas was one of my closest spiritual friends. And I don’t have a problem. In fact, I have said many times that one of the spiritual heroes I have is John Paul II, because he was a man of such great conviction. He stayed with his absolutely clear perspective on moral issues, despite the cultural changes around him. I would disagree with him on that. But I’ve been in his Church, and I have a great respect for his stand for Israel. He’s one of the stalwart friends of Israel. And I appreciate that in him.
HH: When you wrote that paragraph, you said, “This was one of the many moments when he didn’t give you a straight answer. When I came to the conclusion that political expediency and pragmatism has supplanted prophetic principles among those who aspired to influence the process.” It sounds like people who didn’t support you were deaf to God.
MH: Oh, no, not at all. I certainly didn’t intend to imply that, nor do I think I did. My point was that when there were people who in fact, in all candor, said that it really was about the process, because what he had told me was that he felt like John McCain was going to win, and that he needed to be in a position where he could influence him, because it looked like he was going to win, and he just thought that that’s where he needed to go. So it wasn’t because he thought that Senator McCain had principles that he agreed with or believed in more. It was a process decision, and that was my point. I think Christians ought to make principled decisions, not process decisions.
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HH: Governor, the e-mails are coming in. Here’s one from a Mormon listener. “Why didn’t the Governor every denounce the scurrilous anti-Mormon attacks against Mitt Romney by Huckabee supporters? They were even left on the Huckabee website, e.g. Romney referred to as ‘Mormon garbage’. Governor Huckabee always denied that he ever said anything playing on Governor Romney’s religion, but he never once denounced such attacks, and he benefited from them.” Governor?
MH: That is not true, and I consistently denounced attacks against the Mormon Church. And as I have said, if you watch my show, if you’ve read my publications and what I’ve written, I have often defended people of the Mormon faith, because I have great respect for them. They’re people who have great convictions, they hold to them, they are an example of charity, taking care of the members of their own Church. I think it’s, you know, something that is irrelevant to a person’s being elected. And I have said repeatedly that in no way would it affect my vote for or against somebody depending on what Church they belonged to or didn’t belong to.
HH: All right, back to Do The Right Thing, the book. Just a quick question, Governor, on Page 212, you’re talking about the New Hampshire Northern Woods Power Project…
HH: And you note that they, “produce over 300,000 renewable energy certificates a year, which it sells to offset its capital costs.” What do people who buy those things get?
MH: What do they get when they buy the certificates?
MH: Well, they’re actually getting an investment in energy conservation. I think we all have a responsibility. You know, I’m not an environmentalist, but I am unapologetically a conservationist, because I believe that the Earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof. I have a responsibility to treat this planet not as something that is a personal possession of mine, because it isn’t. I’m a guest here. And I’m a temporary guest. And I believe that the Lord owns the entire property, and I ought to treat it the same way the Boy Scouts treat their campsites, leave it in better shape than you found it.
HH: Is it a donation, Governor, then?
MH: Well, I think it is an important part of, again, and just being a conservationist, being a good steward, managing the resources. If we use something up, we make sure that we properly leave it in as good if not better form. That’s why I think that there are many, many things that we can do individually, for example, just small things. But I’m not necessarily a global warming guy. I don’t necessarily believe that. I just think it’s a matter of being a conservationist, taking care of the planet, recognizing that I want it to be the kind of place that my kids and grandkids can enjoy. I like to hunt, I like to fish, clean water, clean air, good soil, they’re vital to me.
HH: But Governor, we’re almost out of time…
MH: …I think it’s important for our pleasure and enjoyment.
HH: I was just asking you if they got something in return, or if it was a donation. This is basically a gift to the Northern Power Company.
MH: No, I think it’s primarily a matter of they’re going to have a sense of responsibility that they’ve done something that did in fact create a greener form of energy production.
HH: Governor Mike Huckabee, I hope you’ll come back. It’s a fascinating book. I could talk to you for three hours about it, and will if you’ll come back. The book is Do The Right Thing by Mike Huckabee. It’s in bookstores everywhere.
End of interview.