Huckabee Bets on Conservative Base for 2008

Former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee doesn't have the name recognition of some top-tier candidates. But his evangelical and conservative credentials could make him a potent force in next year's primary.

Huckabee criticizes the Bush administration for not having a long-term plan for building a permanent peace in Iraq, but won't go so far as to say U.S. policies have "failed."

"The mission of bringing Saddam Hussein down didn't fail. Our military didn't fail. Our policies may have been shortsighted in that they did not take into account the complexity of trying to build a democracy in a people who had never experienced it," Huckabee says.

Regarding President Bush's plans to send more troops to Iraq, Huckabee tells Robert Siegel, "Let's hope it works. But if it doesn't work, then I think the president is pretty much out of options."

A Baptist minister by training, Huckabee says that reclaiming a nation for Christ doesn't mean coercing people to be of a particular faith.

"It means that we would reflect what [Christ] reflected, and that is compassion and love," Huckabee says.

Huckabee, who is pro-life, says that the problem with some in the pro-life community is that they put undue focus on the gestation period. He says he is also concerned about education and health care for children once they are born.

"I want to be concerned about making sure every child has music and art education. There are a lot of things that, to me, are a part of my being pro-life," he says.

Huckabee says that Roe v. Wade didn't decriminalize abortion, but took it out of the sphere of state law and made it a national policy based on privacy.

Thus, the overturning of Roe v. Wade would not eliminate abortion, he says. "Some states would have very liberal abortion laws, other states would have very strict abortion laws."

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