DES MOINES, January 26, 2016 — With the Iowa Caucus less than one week away, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee held a town hall event at Pizza Ranch in Indianola.
Accompanying him were former South Carolina Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer and Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill. Merrill is a rising star in Alabama politics who very well could be Alabama Governor in the next five years.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with Huckabee on issues, his town halls provide two guarantees: He will make you laugh; and he will not moderate his stand on abortion.
Huckabee has a terrific, self-deprecating sense of humor, and he is pro-life to the core. If you disagree with him on abortion, he is not your candidate. With that in mind, his town hall at Pizza Ranch was vintage Huckabee.
He came out of nowhere to win the 2008 Iowa Caucus by working the state hard. He held town halls in all 99 counties.
He joked with his supporters that they should invite friends over for dinner, “toss them a baloney sandwich,” and tell them, “eat quick. We’re going to caucus.” But only if they support him. Those caucusing for other candidates should stay home to avoid the cold and snow.
His supporters should put Huckabee stickers on their cars and on the cars of Hillary Clinton supporters. The stickers may help people get better gas mileage. “Try it for a week.”
Huckabee was on a roll, joking about how tough it was to decide between “327 Republican candidates.”
Then he turned serious. “If this is the year people can buy the caucus, you’ll never see a caucus like this again … You won’t personally talk to candidates again.” If this happens, “the rest of the country loses.” Candidates will never have to talk to farmers or welders again. What makes Iowa great is its retail politicking. That process must not be destroyed.
This may have been a thinly veiled jab at Donald Trump, but it was a valid point.
Huckabee expressed his unflinching commitment to the sanctity of life. “The science is settled.” The fetus will not be a puppy or a piece of broccoli. A human life is created.
When Hillary Clinton speaks about women’s health issues, she means abortion.
Huckabee does not believe we need a constitutional amendment to protect life. It can be done using existing law. The Fifth and Fourteenth amendments to the Constitution are enough to protect life.
“Overturning Roe vs Wade does not stop abortion.” It only lets the states decide. This is not good enough for Huckabee.
“Moral issues do not have geographical boundaries.” For Huckabee, abortion is a moral issue, not a political one.
“How can you say God bless America when you are killing 4000 babies per year?” If he is elected, “We will stop abortion.”
When asked how we get the courts under control, Huckabee cited the separation of powers. The Supreme Court is not a Supreme Branch or the Supreme Being. If the Court issues an unconstitutional ruling, President Huckabee has an obligation to ignore the court and say why.
This is a dangerous line of thinking that could open Huckabee up to charges that he would be as dictatorial as President Obama. He is a man of conviction, but many men are not; if he could ignore the courts, why couldn’t any president do the same? He would be challenged by other conservatives who believe the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of all legal discussions.
Huckabee pointed out that all people, including himself are sinners. In a group photo of 20 people, who do you look for first? People look for themselves, because we are all selfish in that way. A baby cries in the crib. It wants what it wants when it wants it, regardless of what the parents may be doing at that moment. It is human nature to put oneself first.
One audience member proposed requiring every new immigrant to have a sponsor. Huckabee found the idea stimulating but would have to ponder it. This was an example of ordinary Iowa citizens providing bold initiatives, and Huckabee’s wisdom is in not insisting on being the only person in the room with interesting ideas.
Huckabee also feels that we should shift the immigration discussion to motives and away from statistics. The question is, “Why do they want to come, not how many are coming?”
He would “move the Department of Homeland Security head to Laredo, Texas until the fence is built.” It would get built quickly.
Asked about the national debt, Huckabee showed his compassionate side and put a human face on it. “We can’t cut enough” to eliminate the debt. Too many people would be hurt. We also “can’t raise taxes.” That just creates more debt. The “only solution is more economic growth.”
He wants people to stop referring to Social Security as an entitlement. “Social Security is not an entitlement. It’s an earned benefit.” People involuntarily pay into it.
While Huckabee is rock solid on social issues, he has not always had a warm relationship with the Wall Street Journal editorial pages. He has been accused of being a tax-raiser. To inoculate himself, Huckabee cited praise he has received from former WSJ editor and tax-cut hero Stephen Moore. Moore praised Huckabee’s support for the Fair Tax, which taxes consumption rather than income.
Huckabee is a long shot, but he was a long shot in 2008 as well. Through it all, the man who has done campaign events with rock band Firehouse and country music star Josh Turner has maintained his sense of humor.
Huckabee affirmed that he would even be pro-life if modern medical technology would show that the child would grow up to be defective ideologically like Nancy Pelosi. Huckabee is a man of conviction, and that conviction runs deep.