Former Arkansas Mike Huckabee discusses his presidential candidacy.
HH: Let’s talk now with a candidate, former Governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, rejoins us here. Governor, good to have you back, welcome, Happy Easter week to you.
MH: Thank you very much. Pleasure to be here, and Happy Easter to you.
HH: Thank you. Governor, how did the numbers show up for you in the fundraising first quarter totals?
MH: We were pleased. We hit the goal we had, which you know, compared to some candidates, is going to be maybe modest, half a million dollars. But the difference is, we didn’t really have a quarter. We had about six weeks, and we started from zero. Six weeks ago, we didn’t have an office, a piece of paper printed, a telephone, a staff member, and literally had to gear up just from the ground, and make calls just to put the fundraising apparatus in place. Our two biggest fundraisers will actually take place this month, one hosted by WalMart CEO Lee Scott and his wife, and Jim Walton, one hosted by Lisa Ann Rockefeller in Little Rock. So we’re just really getting started, and we’re very excited and pleased with the momentum we’re getting. And frankly, if you look at the numbers, I mean, we’re polling about as high as people who have raised millions and millions of dollars. And I would say on a miles per gallon basis, we are doing quite well.
HH: Now Governor Huckabee, obviously you’re going to try for the trampoline campaign along the lines of Jimmy Carter, do well in Iowa and New Hampshire, and move on from there. How is your organization in Iowa?
MH: We’ve got a great organization. Eric Woolson, a long time political operative and former communications director and chief of staff for Terry Branstad is working our effort. Bob Vander Plaats, who is most recently Lt. Governor candidate, and a very wll known pro-life, Christian activist is our chairman. And we’ve got a great organization there. We’re very pleased, and we’re putting together a grass roots structure that we hope will surprise some people in the Iowa straw poll, August 11th.
HH: Now Governor Huckabee, as well, we’ve got these two tiers. We’ve got the guys with the money, Romney, Giuliani and McCain, and then we’ve got the five guys who are struggling to be that alternative at this point, Sam Brownback, Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter, Tommy Thompson and yourself. In that second tier, how do you sort of consolidate support when you’ve got some other find conservatives in there, some other fine pro-lifers, some other border security conservatives like Duncan Hunter. I mean, how do you consolidate?
MH: Well, I think the key for me is that I’ve been a governor, not a Senator, so I’ve had a long record of making decisions, not just making speeches. And people elect governors to be president because of their executive skills. But as a long time governor, my views and record are consistent. I think that’s going to be a plus. I believe also that people are looking for a candidate who can articulate the message. I would say that geographically, being from the South is an advantage, perhaps politically, being a conservative, pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment with a strong record on issues like that, is going to be good for me. And I also believe that having been a governor, having executive experience is going to be a plus as well.
HH: Now I’ve had on this week Congressman Hunter and Congressman Tancredo, both known as border candidates. What’s your position on illegal immigration?
MH: Well, we’ve got to close the border. I mean, let’s face it. It’s ridiculous when people can come across the border easily, more easily than I can go to the Little Rock airport and get on an airplane. I have to show photo ID, I have to put my shoes in a bucket, and they know who I am. They all call me by name. But I still have to go through the process of legally entering the airport, and going through layers of security. So we need a fence, whether it’s electronic or physical, but on the other side of the border, we need a process where a person can get through in less than seven or ten years, that it sometimes currently takes for a person to get over here, so they can pluck a chicken or pick a tomato.
HH: What about the between 12 and 20 million illegals who are here? Do you believe in regularization of them, Governor?
MH: Well, we don’t have any basis to give them amnesty. That would send the wrong message. What we do need to do is to realize that we’re not going to round them up one weekend and send them all home. But I think we have to tell them they have two choices. They can either go home right now, or they can line up, pay a penalty, and make amends for it, and then get in the process to become legal. But we can’t just ignore the fact that they’ve broken the law, and that if we’ve assessed that they have received benefits that they weren’t entitled to receive, they should have to pay those back.
HH: Well, does that mean, then, that you’re not for touch base? That they have to leave the country in order to become a regularized green card holder?
MH: I think it would be fine to make them go back home. I don’t know that it’s, that’s a sort of sticky point with me, and I’m willing to accept that if that’s where Congress wanted to go. But the more important thing is that you don’t just say we’re going to look the other way, and you have an amnesty process. That is not acceptable, and that’s the key thing.
HH: Would you ever let anyone who entered the country illegally in the first instance become a voting citizen?
MH: I think that they would have to go through a process of really a pardon. I mean, that’s what we do with anybody who’s broken the law. You can’t just vote, you have to have a pardon if you’ve got a criminal background.
HH: So can you seem them being allowed to vote? I mean, they haven’t been convicted of anything, they’re just here when the regularization arrives, not an amnesty, a penalty or a touch base provision. Would you let them vote in say, ten years?
MH: You know, that’s a tough one, Hugh. I don’t guess I’ve even considered it. But my first inclination is to say that there needs to be some type of real, honest touch base, go back home, go through the process legally, if you want to become a voter. If you want to make the bed at Holiday Inn, that’s one thing. But if you want to vote and actually determine who is going to run our country, then you absolutely need to start from scratch and be a legal person.
HH: That’s exactly what I believe, but you know, candidates are dividing on that. Governor, I want to get to guns. There are big stories on guns, and Mitt Romney only having a rifle when he was a kid, and hadn’t hunted much since then. Newt Gingrich was on this program last week talking about guns. What about assault weapons, or what is called assault weapons in the law? Should Americans be allowed to have them.
MH: Absolutely. Americans ought to be allowed to have anything they want to have, as long as they’re law abiding, legal citizens. The 2nd Amendment was not there for hunting. I get so offended when Democrats talk about it as if you don’t need an assault weapon to hunt. Well truthfully, most Democrats wouldn’t know an assault weapon from a
BB gun. I’m a hunter, I have been my whole life. But the 2nd Amendment is not just about hunting. It’s about protecting your family, your property, and it’s honestly about defending ourselves against a tyrannical government, should it ever go haywire on us.
HH: What about machine guns, Governor?
MH: I’ve got friends who own them. They have the legal process to own them. But once again, I’m not afraid of a law abiding citizen owning anything. I’m afraid of a criminal getting his hands on a gun. That’s where the crackdown needs to be. This country’s gone crazy. It’s cracking down on law abiding citizens, and turning their heads at people who break the law. That’s the polar opposite.
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HH: Governor, do you have an official website yet?
MH: I do, Hugh. It’s called www.explorehuckabee.com. I hope people will go and take a visit.
HH: Now are you able to keep up…you are a phenomenal runner, you lost all your weight, you got into shape. We’ve talked marathoning before, you’re faster than I am. Are you able to keep the miles up, Governor?
MH: Well, I am, pretty much. I ran the New York marathon back in the fall, and did it on a bad knee, and paid dearly for it, had to lay off for a couple of months while I let it heal. I’m back on the road, supposed to run Boston next week, but I’m not going to be able to do that because of the knee.
HH: You don’t want to hurt your knee twice, yeah.
MH: No, I’m not going to run another marathon on a bad knee.
HH: What was the time in New York, Governor?
MH: I hope to be able to run a fall marathon.
HH: What was the time in New York?
MH: Oh, the time in New York was dismal. It took me five and a half hours, which was more than a hour longer than I’ve ever done anything before. But you know, I barely could move. And two days before, I couldn’t even go down the steps, so I was pretty stupid to do it, but I was also stubborn enough to think that I couldn’t just quit.
HH: You know, I did that in San Diego about six years ago, and you pay the price for a long time. I’m curious, though, are runners flocking to the Huckabee candidacy?
MH: All the smart ones are, Hugh.
MH: There may be some that don’t, that are just so partisan. But I’ve even got some Democrat runners who are sending me checks, and going to the website, so that’s encouraging.
HH: How about Runner’s World? Are they all over this?
MH: You know, Runner’s World did a feature, and in fact, named me one of the heroes of running just before the New York marathon, which was an incredible honor. And I said you know, there was a time in my life when I would have been very upset had someone made me run. I’m at a point now in my life when I’d be very upset had someone told me I couldn’t run.
HH: Well, it seems to me there’s a fundraiser in there somewhere, a hundred bucks a mile up to $2,300 dollars for your next marathon, Governor.
MH: Well, I’m going to sign you up to be on the first mile of that, Hugh.
HH: Oh, I’ll do the whole 26 with you sometime. Next time you’re out in California, let’s go for a run on the beach down at Huntington Beach, Newport Beach area.
MH: I’m all about it.
HH: Governor, always a pleasure to speak with you, good luck in your efforts, a wonderful opportunity. Thanks for being here, and www.explorehuckabee.com, right?
HH: Thanks, Governor. We’ll talk to you again soon.
End of interview.