LOS ANGELES, December 21, 2015 — When former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition 2015 Presidential Candidates Forum, he stuck to his script.
Some of the candidates discussed Israel at length because the crowd did not know them. Others had established reputations and did not feel the need to spend time discussing Israel. Huckabee was his consistent self.
An ordained Christian minister, Huckabee’s bona fides are well known, but he spent the bulk of his time talking about Israel anyway. Like many in the crowd, Huckabee’s connection to Israel is deeply personal and biblical. In 2007, He was the only presidential candidate who missed this RJC forum due to a scheduling conflict. This time, he was presented by RJC member Lynn Lechter.
Huckabee is known for his self-deprecating sense of humor, and he started out that way with the RJC. Turning serious, he pointed out that his support of Israel started when he was 17 years old. He said that America and Israel could not have been created without God. Huckabee was in full preacher mode, discussing ideas far removed from policy.
But he did turn to policy.
According to Huckabee, the Iran deal is “a direct threat to the United States.”
Regarding peace, he declared, “Israel has repeatedly given up, given up, given up, given up and gotten nothing in return.” He attacked President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry for playing the moral equivalence game between Israel and its enemies.
“There cannot be two states hoping for the same piece of real estate,” he said, especially when one state does not recognize the right of the other state to exist.
“How many synagogues are being built in Saudi Arabia?” he asked. “How many churches are being marked for construction in Iran?” Israel respects religious differences.
He said that “Jerusalem can never be a divided city” and demanded that America move the United States embassy to Jerusalem.
Huckabee’s remarks were very brief, leaving plenty of time for questions.
Huckabee has a deep love and respect for the Jewish people. He has no idea about the end of times and does not factor that into his love of Israel. His vision is not an apocalyptic one. This matters because the “end of times” argument is frequently cited by liberals as a reason to attack Christian evangelical support for Israel as coming from impure motives. This liberal argument is nothing more than anti-Christian bigotry, and Huckabee was dignified in addressing an issue he should never have to address.
Obama could have been a great president, observed Huckabee, but “he chose not to be.” He wanted to be divisive.
When asked how he would persuade people who are pro-choice and pro-gay marriage to vote for him, he replied, “I honestly wouldn’t.” It was a refreshingly honest answer. He would not pander on these issues. “If that is the deciding point, I lose you.” Huckabee pointed out that in 2008, he and Obama had the same view on gay marriage.
The next president should be “commander in chief, not the meteorologist in chief.” The greatest global threat is “a beheading, not a sunburn.”
While Huckabee’s views on Israel are well known and liked by the RJC audience, he concluded his remarks without their knowing where he stands on a host of other issues. He addressed the Jewish part of the Republican Jewish Coalition but left many in the audience wondering what type of Republican he was outside of his social conservatism.