By Meg Jalsevac
November 16, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) -The battle for the Republican nomination in the upcoming 2008 presidential election has become a bitterly contested struggle centered largely around the authentic conservative identities of the candidates involved. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee’s strong record on issues of life and family, and his reputation as an avid hunter and strong supporter of second amendment rights, are both widely praised and largely uncontested by most conservatives.
However, similar to several of the other candidates, Huckabee’s past record has spurred some to express disappointment and confusion over his positions on certain key issues and has even led some to question his identity as a fiscal or otherwise so-called ‘governmental’ conservative. Despite that, Huckabee is slowly and steadily making headway in several states as he touts himself as the most “consistent conservative” candidate, especially on matters of life and family.
Over the past few weeks, a handful of prominent conservatives have publicly announced endorsements for the Republican candidate of their choice. As reported by LifeSiteNews.com, Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation announced his endorsement of Mitt Romney and evangelical leader Pat Robertson shocked many conservatives by publicly endorsing pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage Rudy Giuliani.
Former candidate and pro-life champion, Sam Brownback threw his weight behind Senator John McCain and Mike Huckabee earned an endorsement from Don Wildmon of the American Family Association among other noteworthy conservatives.
When asked by LifeSiteNews why he chose to endorse Huckabee over any other candidate, Rev. Wildmon said that he chose Huckabee because “he has never known him to be anything but pro-life. On the major issues that we consider important – I really think that Governor Huckabee would be the fellow to carry the flag.”
This lack of consensus, even among noted conservative leaders, indicates the wide span of public opinion over who is the most suitable and viable candidate to pit against what most are predicting, at least at this time in the primaries, is a certain Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.
While Huckabee’s campaign started slowly, it has steadily gained strength over the past months causing many commentators to acknowledge that the original ‘Top 4 Republican candidates’ (Romney, Thompson, McCain & Giuliani) is in fact a ‘Top 5’. Huckabee ranked second only to candidate Mitt Romney in a recent Iowa straw poll and was announced winner of the recent September Values Voter Debate Straw Poll.
The former Baptist minister’s gubernatorial record clearly indicates his position as a strong pro-life candidate. Throughout his two term tenure, and despite a Democrat majority in his legislature, Huckabee successfully worked to pass 11 pro-life laws ranging from a partial birth abortion ban to making Arkansas the first state to pass a ‘Child Pain Awareness and Protection Act’ in 2005.
Huckabee frequently claims that abortion was the key issue which prompted his entrance into the political realm. He says, “I first became politically active when I helped pass Arkansas’ Unborn Child Amendment, which requires the state to do whatever it can to protect life.” Pro-Choice America (NARAL) indicated that Huckabee declined to provide them with his personal statement on “choice”, but the website claimed that “as governor he had a generally anti-choice record.”
Executive Director of Arkansas Right to Life, Rose Mimms told LifeSiteNews that Huckabee was a “friend” to the pro-life movement in Arkansas. She said, “Any conceivable pro-life legislation that we could think to pass – he was always right there with us.” Mimms concluded, “He is pro-life – there is no doubt about it.”
Huckabee’s campaign website concisely illustrates his dedication to the protection of human life stating, “I support and have always supported passage of a constitutional amendment to protect the right to life. My convictions regarding the sanctity of life have always been clear and consistent, without equivocation or wavering. I believe that Roe v. Wade should be over-turned.”
Huckabee has publicly taken a stance against creating new lines of embryonic stem cells for research. His official position on the issue states, “With respect to stem cells, I support federal funding of research using existing stem cell lines. I do not believe in creating life for the sole purpose of destroying it. I’m encouraged by recent discoveries showing that stem cells from the umbilical cord offer great promise.”
Both Huckabee’s past actions and present assertions illustrate his convictions in support of the traditional family. He supports the passage of a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
As governor, he successfully headed up a state-level effort to pass a similar marriage amendment to the constitution of Arkansas. Huckabee worked to introduce ‘covenant marriages’ which mandate pre-marriage counseling by the officiating individual to the couple and only allow legal divorce in extreme cases. Huckabee asserts that the initiative to promote ‘covenant marriages’ was undertaken in an effort to lower the catastrophic divorce level found across the US.
“I’m convinced that the reason the homosexual movement has become so strong is because the traditional family has become weak. When over half the marriages in this country end in divorce, it’s hard for a lot of kids to grow up seeing the role models that kids need in order to become the replacements for those of us who are parents now.”
Huckabee emphatically rejects “legal recognition of alternative unions” and signed legislation to outlaw gay “marriage” in Arkansas. “I strongly, firmly and unequivocally believe that the traditional definition of marriage is for ‘one man, one woman, for life.’ That is why I worked hard in Arkansas to enact legislation at the state level to protect traditional marriage, and why I have vowed to work hard for federal language as president.”
In June of this year, Huckabee was quoted, “There have been homosexuals in every human culture. But until recently, who would have dared to suggest that the practice should be accepted on equal footing with heterosexuality, to be thought of as a personal decision and nothing more?”
Campaigning as a “different type of Republican”, Huckabee’s fiscal record is not so unanimously heralded by conservatives who accuse him of raising taxes to fund social programs that essentially resulted in big government meddling during his tenure. The Cato Institute, a Washington, DC based fiscal watchdog group, gave out-going Governor Huckabee a grade of ‘D’ for his fiscal policies during his two year gubernatorial term. Huckabee appears to have altered some of his past positions since entering the presidential race, he remains staunchly defensive of the expansive social programs initiated under his watch.
Huckabee’s record on education is murky. Randy Minton, former member of the House of Representatives of Arkansas during Huckabee’s tenure and current Chairman of the Arkansas Eagle Forum told LifeSiteNews that, as governor, Huckabee would “never buck the Arkansas Education Association” and refused to introduce private school voucher’s in his legislative package. However, at the recent Values Voters Debate, Huckabee indicated that he would support private school vouchers.
As governor, Huckabee actively promoted the right to home-school and facilitated the creation of charter schools within the state but has been a longtime proponent of the federally funded ‘No Child Left Behind’ program. State-mandated ‘health report cards’ that indicated a student’s Body Mass Index were introduced in public schools at Huckabee’s initiative. More recently, Huckabee was the only Republican candidate to join the Democrat candidates in addressing the annual meeting of the National Education Association.
Huckabee criticized President Bush’s veto of the expansive SCHIP health plan and consistently touts the benefits of the tax-funded ARKids health program that he established in Arkansas. However, at the Values Voters Debate in September, Huckabee indicated that he opposed universal health coverage.
As candidate Huckabee continues on his campaign trail, many conservatives believe that his success will largely depend on his ability to offer adequate assurance that, should he be elected, he would stay true to his current promises and distance himself from his past of big government involvement.
See Huckabee’s official campaign website:
See full coverage of Huckabee ‘On the Issues’