Now that Mr. Huckabee has reached first place in Iowa polls, those days are over. His 10years as Arkansas governor and his conservative credentials are now relentlessly scrutinized, and Mr. Huckabee is under fire for substantial increases in taxes and spending by the Club for Growth and the CATO Institute. Numbers USA, a research and advocacy organization which opposes illegal immigration and monitors politicians’ records on the issue, is sharply critical of his record as governor.
Mr. Huckabee has come under withering fire from critics of illegal immigration. Asked last month about complaints that he is “soft” on illegals, the former Arkansas governor said he opposed sanctuary cities and opposes amnesty, although he contradicted himself somewhat by adding that he believes illegal aliens can be put on a path to citizenship.
Asked on ABC Television’s “This Week” about his Arkansas record on the issue, Mr. Huckabee replied: “You don’t punish a child because a parent committed a crime, or committed a sin, you just don’t do it.” He didn’t rule out extending this principle to the federal level, but suggested that he might view state and federal benefits differently. On Friday, Mr. Huckabee unveiled a plan for tougher immigration enforcement and border security, pledging to complete a border fence between America and Mexico by 2010. He also said that immigrants who failed to register within 120 days and then leave the country would be deported and barred from re-entry for 10 years.
With no experience conducting or voting on foreign policy issues, Mr. Huckabee’s comments and writings are closely scrutinized. Within the past week, he has decried waterboarding of captured terrorists, called for shutting down the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and suggested that America could bolster its standing in the world by treating other nations with more “respect.” You can bet that if Mr. Huckabee continues his surge in the polls, his opponents will go to great lengths to try to force him to give more structured, coherent explanations of his world view.