The information presented below reflects the 2008 election season and is not representative of changes in titles, roles, or policy views expressed since then.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee centered his campaign on issues of importance to his socially conservative base, including opposition to abortion and gay marriage. Huckabee emerged as a strong candidate late in the campaign season, surprising many with his win in the Iowa caucus.
Huckabee served as chair of the National Governor’s Association, during which time he started the Healthy America initiative, aimed at increasing investment and awareness nationwide in health and prevention. An opponent of universal health care, Huckabee advocates a shift away from employer-based health care programs and calls for refocusing the medical industry on illness prevention, rather than just treatment. A primary talking point of Huckabee’s campaign has been his dramatic weight loss—Huckabee lost over 100 pounds—and has led him to write a book about pursuing a healthy lifestyle.
Huckabee was elected lieutenant governor of Arkansas in 1993, and took over the governorship when his predecessor, James Guy Tucker, resigned in 1996.
Huckabee's foreign policy experience is limited. As a presidential candidate, he has detailed an international agenda focusing on building stability and democracy in the Middle East. He has differed from his party on immigration issues, often criticizing measures targeting illegal immigrants.
Huckabee ended his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination on March 4, 2008.
U.S. Policy toward Africa
Huckabee has not made many public statements relating to U.S. policy toward Africa. His stance on U.S.action in Darfur is unknown. He has said foreign aid (Time) “should be limited to purely humanitarian efforts.”
U.S. Policy toward India
Huckabee’s stance on this issue is unknown.
Military Tribunals and Guantanamo Bay
Huckabee, who has visited Guantanamo, says the facility is better than some prisons in the United States and that some U.S. prisoners would “love to be in a facility more like Guantanamo.” Huckabee in June 2007 also warned against releasing its prisoners. “If we let somebody out and it turns out that they come and fly an airliner into one of our skyscrapers, we're going to be asking how come we didn't stop them, we had them detained,” he said. "If we're going to make a mistake right now, let's make it on the side of protecting the American people.”
Still, in December 2007, Huckabee expressed concern that Guantanamo has become "a distraction from our Global War on Terror." He said another facility, "like Fort Leavenworth, can serve the same purpose without the controversy."
Huckabee’s stance is unknown.
Huckabee criticized Democrats like Edwards who “delusionally deny that the war in Iraq is part of the war on terror even as we fight al-Qaeda there.” He calls the war on terror “generational” and “ideological” and argues that the United States is actually “engaged in a world war.”
Democracy Promotion in the Arab World
Huckabee says the broader goal in the Middle East should be “to correctly calibrate a course between maintaining stability and promoting democracy.” But, he says, “it’s self-defeating to try to accomplish too much too soon; you just have elections where extremists win, but it’s equally self-defeating to do nothing.” He proposes to first eliminate terrorists by “winning” the war in Iraq, and then to solve the “underlying conditions that breed terror” by assisting in the building of schools “that offer an alternative to the extremist madrassas,” and by bolstering the job market (though he does not specify how to accomplish this) and supporting democratic institutions like a free press.
Huckabee said sending his comprehensive plan for energy reform would be his first act as president. As Arkansas governor, Huckabee adopted the National Governors Association policy on global climate change, which recommends continued research on climate change and the development of emissions-reducing technology. That policy did not commit Arkansas to emissions controls, however. On the National Political Awareness Test, Huckabee said he supports increased use of alternative fuel technologies as well as the use of “state funds to clean up former industrial and commercial sites that are contaminated, unused, or abandoned.” He thinks the United States should extend the role of nuclear power and supports government subsidies for the acceleration clean energy technology. He also supports drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve.
Huckabee, who has taken nine trips to Israel in past 35 years, calls himself a “steadfast supporter” of Israel. On his campaign site, Huckabee pledges that as president, he would “ensure that Israel has access to the state-of-the-art weapons and technology she needs to defend herself from those who seek her annihilation.”
In October 2007, Huckabee said he believes a Palestinian state should be created (Yeshiva World), but that it should be moved away from Israel. He named Egypt and Saudi Arabia as possible locations.
North Korea Policy
Huckabee’s stance on North Korea is unknown.
Though Huckabee previously supported lifting the Cuban embargo, he has since changed his position (LAT). In December 2007, Huckabee said he would veto any effort to end the trade restrictions on the Carribean country. As governor of Arkansas in 2002, however, Huckabee argued that the embargo was harmful to American business. He now says he took that position in an effort to revive Arkansas rice markets (CBS).
In February 2008, after Fidel Castro's announcement that he would be stepping down, Huckabee called for "free and fair elections" in Cuba, but said that until Castro dies, "there can be no significant movement towards reform in Cuba," because, he said, new Cuban leader Raul Castro "has proven that he's as much a tyrant and dictator as his brother Fidel."
U.S. Policy toward China
Huckabee has said that he generally is "not as concerned about China" as he is about other more radical and threatening regimes.
Still, he said, “China needs to play by all the rules that we are expected to play by, in terms of trade, protection of intellectual property rights and the decent treatment of workers.”
In 2006, Huckabee visited Taiwan and met with President Chen Shui-bian. The National Governors Association passed a resolution supporting Taiwan in 2003, during Huckabee’s time as NGA Chairman. In 2005, Huckabee’s state of Arkansas passed a resolution commending the U.S. - Taiwan Free Trade Agreement.
Huckabee says the United States must add about 92,000 troops to the Army in the next two to three years, though he has not indicated how he determined that number or timeframe. In a January 2008 Foreign Affairs essay, Huckabee said the United States should spend six percent of its GDP on defense.
Huckabee generally supports the Bush administration’s agenda in Iraq. He says that setting any timetable for troop withdrawal is “a mistake." While he initially said he was unsure whether he supported the troop surge if it would require the deployment of National Guard and Reserve forces to Iraq. He now says he firmly supports the military tactic in Iraq, however.
Huckabee favors inviting Iraq’s neighbors to “become financially and militarily committed to stabilizing Iraq now rather than financially and militarily committed to widening the war later.” Huckabee pledged in Foreign Affairs not to withdraw troops from Iraq "any faster" than Gen. David Petraeus recommends. Still, Huckabee has criticized the Bush administration's handling of the war. "We did not send enough troops to Iraq initially," he wrote.
The Club for Growth calls Gov. Huckabee’s (R-AK) record on trade, including his support for free trade with Mexico and his forging of a trade pact between a South Korea trade group and his home state of Arkansas, “limited, but positive.” Huckabee has expressed concern that free trade can lead to unfair loss of American jobs, saying (Newton Daily News) in April 2007 that “If somebody in the presidency doesn’t begin to understand that we can’t have free trade if it’s not fair trade, we’re going to continually see people who have worked for 20 and 30 years for companies one day walk in and get the pink slip and told ‘I’m sorry but everything you spent your life working for is no longer here.’”
Huckabee has criticized (NYT) the federal government for placing much of the burden for homeland security measures on individual states. In 2003, then-Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge appointed Huckabee as a representative to the State and Local Officials Senior Advisory Committee to the Homeland Security Advisory Council. The National Governors Association created the Governors Homeland Security Advisers Council during Huckabee’s time as NGA Chairman.
Huckabee supports engaging Iran in diplomatic talks, though he raised eyebrows (ChiTrib) in December 2007 when he acknowledged he was not familiar with a National Intelligence Estimate concluding Iran had suspended its nuclear weapons program in 2003. Huckabee says he will not take military action against Iran "off the table," but, he warned in a January 2008 Foreign Affairs essay, Osama bin Laden "would welcome war between the United States and Iran."
When asked about his opinion on climate change in a March 2007 interview with Newsweek, Huckabee said, “It’s a spiritual issue. [The earth] belongs to God. I have no right to destroy it.” In another interview, Huckabee got more specific, saying, "We ought to be moving rapidly towards energy sources that don’t have a greenhouse gas effect. Aggressively set the goal that within a ten-year period, we should move a way from a fossil fuel culture to one that has alternative energy resources."
Huckabee also says he supports a mandatory cap-and-trade system to limit greenhouse gas emissions (Bloomberg).
Huckabee has avoided some of the harsher language about immigrants used by his fellow Republican candidates. Instead, the former Arkansas governor has a record of sympathetic gestures for illegal immigrants. He has advocated prenatal care for pregnant immigrants and has proposed a scholarship program for illegal immigrants who graduate from Arkansas high schools. He also criticized a 2005 federal immigration raid in Arkansas. Huckabee has expressed support for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants under some conditions. In an interview with ABC-TV’s George Stephanopoulos, he said, “We should have a process where people can pay the penalties, step up and accept responsibility for not being here legally.” He added: “The objective is not to be punitive. The objective is to make things right.”
In December 2007, Huckabee released his immigration plan, which included the completion of the border fence with an "interlocking surveillance camera system" by July 1, 2010. He also proposed granting illegal immigrants a 120-day "window to register" with Immigration Services. Those who register would be able to return to their home countries and "face no penalty if they later apply to immigrate or visit." Those who stay, according to his plan, would be deported and "barred from future reentry" for ten years.
Huckabee’s stance on this issue is unknown.
U.S. Policy toward Russia
Huckabee seems optimistic about the U.S.-Russian relationship. "Things will be better than during the Cold War because, much as we do not want another 9/11, Putin does not want another terrorist attack like the 2004 school siege in Beslan," he wrote in a January 2008 Foreign Affairs essay. Still, he is critical of Putin, whom he calls "a staunch nationalist in a country that has no democratic tradition."
U.S. Policy toward Pakistan
Huckabee’s response to the Pakistani crisis in late December 2007 raised concern in the media about his foreign policy experience. He made erroneous comments about the country’s state of emergency and the number of Pakistani illegal immigrants in the United States (TIME).
In general, Huckabee has said the U.S. “failure to engage al-Qaeda in Pakistan seems to be leading inexorably to their attacking us again.” In a September 2007 speech, Huckabee criticized the Bush administration’s policy toward Pakistan as having “allowed al-Qaeda to metastasize and get into the blood stream of the Islamic world, with its ‘franchises’ of local terror groups who give their allegiance to headquarters in Pakistan and get assistance in return.” He compared the U.S. focus on Iraq “at the expense of Pakistan or Iran” to “dealing with a neighbor’s house that is on fire, while ignoring the house on the other side that is filled with carbon monoxide.” Huckabee says the United States should counter extremist influence by helping “meet the needs of Pakistan’s poor.”
In his Foreign Affairs article, Huckabee called for a policy of “tough love” toward Pakistan, and said as president he will pursue al-Qaeda in Pakistan.
In a September 2007 speech, Huckabee expressed concern about the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran. He said that “faced with a nuclear Shiite Persian Iran, the Sunni Arab regimes to the west will feel the need to match them." Huckabee said he would “not take the military option for Iran off the table” as a means of prevention. But he emphasized using the tool of diplomacy in both containing Iran and seeking to engage in dialogue with its leaders to try to resolve the dispute over its nuclear program, which Iran says is peaceful. His views on other aspects of nuclear nonproliferation policy are unknown.
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