Mike Huckabee Tries to Keep Focus on Policy Issues
LIANE HANSEN, host:
Joining us now is former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, another of the Republican candidates for the presidential nomination. Thank you for being with us.
Mr. MIKE HUCKABEE (Former Governor, Arkansas; Republican Presidential Candidate): Well, it's my pleasure. Thank you.
HANSEN: You participated in a forum yesterday aimed at young people in which you made this remark.
Mr. HUCKABEE: Every debate we have, I always get asked the God questions. And it's not because I'm bringing them up, but because I think there's this almost insatiable curiosity.
HANSEN: Does this frustrate you, the God questions all the time?
Mr. HUCKABEE: It's not that I mind answering them. I just think that it's a little interesting that I'm the only one that gets those questions. And then it becomes sort of this fascination with - that that's all I'm about. Well, obviously, I was a governor 10-and-a-half years and led in education, rebuilding our road system, healthcare, never really governed with a sense of a religious fervor. I run for president, and that's all people want to talk about.
HANSEN: Many of the states having primaries on Tuesday in the South and the Midwest have large numbers of evangelicals. Are you focusing your campaign on them? Do you expect to pick up the majority of these voters?
Mr. HUCKABEE: No. And that, again, kind of goes to the point. Some people think that the only appeal I have is to evangelicals. Some of the strongest appeal I have is that I want to get rid of the IRS and change our tax system to one that doesn't penalize productivity, that would bring capital back into the U.S. I talk a great deal about education, the fact that we need to launch weapons of mass instruction of music and art so that kids have a creative education and not just a logical one. And there are a host of reasons that people are supporting me.
HANSEN: There are some that say your presence in the race is taking votes away from Mitt Romney, and that's a plus for John McCain. Do you agree with that?
Mr. HUCKABEE: I think it's quite the other way around. That Mitt Romney is taking votes from me. Mitt Romney spent probably $100 million to have the same market share that I have for about $7 million. I would seem to me if anybody needs to step aside, it would be Mitt Romney, and say Huckabee's running a more efficient effective operation. Let's get behind him.
HANSEN: If you have a poor showing Tuesday, will you continue?
Mr. HUCKABEE: Sure. The nomination hasn't been secured until somebody has 1,191 delegates. And until that moment, there is still a process going on. I think for people to start assuming that John McCain has already won it is a little bit presumptuous, you know, and this perception of a two-man race. If it's a two-man race, it's John McCain and me. I'm doing better in many of the states Tuesday than Mitt Romney is. So I'm not sure where this idea that Mitt Romney is ahead of me.
HANSEN: Do you have enough money to continue?
Mr. HUCKABEE: Sure. We got $2 million in the bank. We've always been very frugal. We've operated the campaign like I think the federal budget ought to be operated. We don't owe money. We've never borrowed money, and we've gotten this far with, you know, a very, frankly, lean operation - I think one that ought to make people realize that if you have to spend tens of millions of dollars to be heard, maybe your message isn't that clear.
HANSEN: Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. Thank you so much.
Mr. HUCKABEE: It's a pleasure to talk. Thanks.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.