Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is scheduled to keynote an Iowa Family Policy Center event this Sunday afternoon. He spoke with reporters before it started. Listen to the mp3 of the 15-minute news conference: HuckabeeSunday
As for where he is in the decision-making process about another bid for the White House in 2012, this is what Huckabee said:
“Honestly, I’m not on a time table. I’m not on somebody’s calendar to say, ‘This is the time when I have to decide.’ Am I keeping the option open? Yes. Am I open to it, considering it and giving, you know, thought? Of course. I think I would be foolish not to in light of having been through it,understanding what it’s about.
“…I’m in a very different position than I was four years ago when I was an asterisk in the polls and most people didn’t think that I was even going to be serious and this time, in most of the national polls, I’m either the top or near the top and that certainly is a different position to be in, but it doesn’t mean that I’m automatically going to do it either. There’s a lot of deep, internal soul-searching and another thing for me is that, as I’ve told many people, I don’t plan to jump in a pool unless there’s water in it.”
In response to a question about it, Huckabee said a statement he made on FOX News Sunday that it would be “less than likely” that he would run in 2012 had been taken “completely out of context.”
“I was being asked…essentially, if you had to make the decision today. Well, I didn’t have to make the decision today,”Huckabee said. “…That was not an indication of a complete lack of interest or a denial and I think it was reported that ‘Huckabee says he won’t run’ and I’ve never said that…That was a year ago. Ask me in six months and I’ll have a clearer answer.”
Huckabee was asked if a Sarah Palin candidacy would discourage him from running.
“One of the things I’ve learned in politics is you never make your decisions based on what other people are going to do or don’t do because, first of all, they can change their minds,”Huckabee said. “And, second of all, the one thing I learned running four marathons is you run your race, your pace. You do not go out there and look around and constantly wonder what somebody else is going to do.
“No question she will be a very, very strong presence and force if she gets in, you know, she may run away with it and that’s one of those things that everybody as to be prepared for, but the decision I make won’t be based on what she does. If I get in it, I would prefer that she not and that she endorse me.”
Huckabee laughed, as did the three Iowa Family Policy Center people flanking Huckabee as he stood before the cameras. Huckabee quickly continued: “But if she does then, you know, I welcome her because that I think she’s got a very strong and important voice and has brought a lot of energy to the grassroots of the Republican Party and that I think is very, very positive by anybody’s standards.”
A reporter noted that Palin said this week she could beat Obama, then asked Hucakbee: Could you?
“I always believed I could,”Huckabee said. “I wouldn’t have run the last time if I didn’t think I could and the good news for me is a majority of American voters seem to think that. In the last poll, I was the only one who polled above (Obama) outside the margin of error.”
Huckabee a few moments later said as he mulls a run in 2012, he’s considering how to finance a campaign. “I’m probably going to give more weight to that this time than I did before because I understand far better than I can even begin to tell you how tough it is to run a campaign on fumes, without fuel,” he said.
What follows is a live blog of the event.
At 3 p.m. a praise band took the stage at First Federated Church in Des Moines. The crowd was invited to stand and sing along, as the words are projected on a large screen at the front of the sanctuary.
At about 3:15 p.m. “a special guest artist” — Huckabee — came on stage to jam with the band (Huckabee plays bass guitar) and the crowd clapped and cheered. Huckabee, wearing his suit and tie, laid down a bass line and the band began singing as some in the crowd clapped along.
After the song Iowa Family Policy Center Board of Directors president Danny Carroll introduced pastors from around the state who are here today, and the pastors and their wives came on stage. They are getting a long ovation from the crowd.
“Pastors are the key to energizing our church and engaging the culture,” Carroll said. “…Just a personal note: it was a pastor who made a difference in my life 45 years ago and I’m standing here in front of you only because of that pastor.”
As the pastors make their way to their seats, that’s a cue for another song. Carroll is back at 3:26 p.m. “This is a big day,” Carroll said. “First of all, we have a new name: The Family Leader.”
The new group is the umbrella organization for the Iowa Family Policy Center, Marriage Matters and the IFPC PAC. “The Family Leader champions the principle that God is the ultimate leader of the family. Our goal….is to honor and glorify God,” Carroll said, adding the group’s goal doesn’t involved honoring and glorifying a political party or a political candidate. Carroll said The Family Leader is a “Christ-centered” organization.
Carroll noted this event is a fundraiser, and white packets are in each pew. “I’ve been assured this envelop will hold any size check,” Carroll joked.
Next up to the stage: Master of Ceremonies, Mike Wells, president and CEO of Wells Dairy in Le Mars, a long-time supporter of the Iowa Family Policy Center. “Having a positive impact on the future generations starts with us being intentional,” Wells said in brief remarks before introducing a brief montage of Huckabee in 2007 and 2008.
At3:35 p.m. the crowd rises cheering, whistling and clapping as Huckabee comes on stage. (Listen to the 33-minute mp3 of the speech by clicking on this link: HuckabeeIFPCSpeech)
“Watching that video brought some terrific memories for me,” Huckabee began, mentioning his post-campaign book. Huckabee next joked that people want to “read something into every visit” he makes to Iowa. (See first part of this blog post)
“I’m not here to announce any plans — or deny any plans,” Huckabee said, and the crowd cheered and laughed.
Next, Huckabee spent a few moments talking about the judicial retention elections in Iowa this year, saying he wanted to congratulate the people of Iowa for a “remarkable election that resonated all across America.”
Huckabee called it an historic election. Huckabee said if the judges had been retained the message would have been that “they can do anything they want and there will never be a penalty for ignoring the will of the people.”
If the judicial retention had gone the other way: “It would have been a devastating blow to conservatives…It would have had disastrous consequences…I’m here to say, ‘Thank you on behalf of a grateful nation.’ You did great, great work for America.”
Of the judicial retention election, Huckabee boiled it down to this: “It wasn’t personal, it was just business. It was the business of protecting marriage.”
Some in the crowd started punctuating Huckabee’s comments with the word “Amen” coming from men and women in the room.
According to Huckabee, faith-based voters are “sometimes sneered at, laughed at.” Huckabee talked about the 2008 campaign debates, when he’d “get thrown a religious question.”
Huckabee said faithful people are denigrated, dismissed as “shallow” and “just a little bit intellectually interior.”
“…I believe that it takes a great deal more depth to believe that issues are not merely what they appear to be on the surface, but go all the way to the heart, soul and depth of a human being,” Huckabee said.
Huckabee said even if the tax code is “righted” it won’t fix what’s gone wrong with the American family.
“Is there not something morally repugnant that we will tell them…somebody else will cleanup their mess?” Huckabee said. “…We’re going to have a nation full of spoiled brats.”
There were amens from several parts of the sanctuary.
“The best government is a mother and a father raising children in the context of understanding that some things are always right and some things are always wrong…and when we do things that are wrong, we will suffer the consequences of them,” Huckabee said.
Next, Huckabee talks about abortion. “It is basically an issue of the most fundamental issue of our government…The heart and the soul of who we are as a people is found in the notion that there is no such thing in this country that there is one person who is worth more than another person.”
“That’s right,” a man sitting in the crowd replied.
Huckabee talked the hypothetical of going into a classroom and exterminating the kids who have the two lowest test scores, then amplified such extermination was a “repugnant” concept. “Isn’t it the same thing that we’re doing, we’re just doing it a little earlier — in the womb?” Huckabee said.
There were more Amens during this passage of the speech.
“Life and its value comes because it’s a creation of God almighty…and it is a sin against him and against life to interrupt that natural flow,” Huckabee said of abortion, and the crowd applauded.
“I salute what you do and ask you not to depart from the battle,” Huckabee said, adding that this is what the crowd should say to those who argue the nation’s focus should be on taxes and the economy: “Push back and remind them that there will be no strong economy if there is not a strong commitment to what’s right.”
Huckabee talked about Iowa native Sal Guita, the recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, noting Guita risked his own life to save another. “It was not lost on me that in that message was the message that we’re here today to affirm,” Huckabee said.
“The future of America is not in its tax policy,” Huckabee said to conclude, adding it was in the country’s willingness to embrace Godly principles.
Huckabee concluded at about 4:09 p.m. The next speaker: Iowa Family Policy Center president Chuck Hurley. A press aide just handed reporters a crowd estimate; 1500.
“We’re thankful to God for bringing us to this point where we can have more and more influence,” Hurley said, adding his group spent “several hundred thousands dollars this past election cycle” in radio, phone and grassroots organizing.
Hurley said it was time to give thanks, as “at least for now, rejecting socialism, judicial activism and immorality,” Hurley said. The crowd cheered as Hurley held up a “vote no” sign — from the campaign to oust the three Iowa Supreme Court justices.
“We have already begun evaluating the likely candidates according to a Biblical, timeless standard,” Hurley said. “…We plan extensive interviews (with the candidates)…with the possibility of an endorsement and joining with other state and national groups to maximize our impact in the presidential race…We could very well help decide who becomes our next president.”
Hurley next called on the four remaining justices on the Iowa Supreme Court to resign in an orderly fashion, “saving several more expensive judicial retention battles.”
There’s a musical interlude, as the crowd is invited to stand. After the song, a video about Marriage Matters is played for the crowd, then counselors talked about the program.
At 4:47 p.m. Steve Deace of WHO Radio was introduced to the crowd. “I don’t know why He has allowed me to have the voice that I have had…the only thing I can chalk it up to is grace,” Deace said of his life. “…I see a lot of guys who feel like they can’t win and they quit and what they really need is leadership…We need men in office who have ‘been with Jesus'”
Master of Ceremonies Wells was back on stage at 4:59 p.m. “We’ve been put in a position for such a time as this,” Wells said, after joking that men needed to “man up.”
Wells said of Bob Vander Plaats, the three-time candidate for governor who is now leading this new group, The Family Leader. “We’re going to give him a position to lead,” Wells said. “…You can’t spend much time around him without getting real jazzed up…I suggest we all fasten our seat belts, because it’s going to be quite a ride.”
The crowd rises to applaud as Vander Plaats comes on stage. “It has been quite an afternoon, has it not?” BVP said to begin.
Vander Plaats said of himself and his wife, Darla. “We accept this position and we look forward to moving forward with you,” he said.
A few moments later BVP talked about the judicial retention election. “We the people are not going away!” BVP said, to applause. “…What made it successful was that the body of Christ came together and stayed focused on the goal and they played well in the sandbox together.”
Vander Plaats said the focus of the newly-named group would be the Biblical assertion that “we must die to ourselves daily” and he said one must do that each day in order “to serve the family.”
Vander Plaats mentioned the work of Marriage Matters, then said the group would recruit “Christian statesmen” to tell “truth in the public arena.”
BVP returned to the April 2009 Iowa Supreme Court ruling that paved the way for gay marriage in Iowa. He talked about his dad’s death three days after the ruling. Vander Plaats said his passion on the gay marriage issue comes from his father. “It’s personal,” he said. “…I’m asking you today, as I close my remarks, that you would raise your hands one by one and you would say, ‘I choose to be a great generation. I choose to stand in the gap and I will not be embarassed by my faith.'”
“…It is no accident that we are in the crosshairs,” Vander Plaats said to conclude his speech. “I hope and I pray that you will stand with me and you will end where I began and you will say, ‘I am not going away…until I draw my last breath.’