In an interview Wednesday, former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee weighed in on embattled Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, slammed his potential 2012 presidential primary rival Mitt Romney, and reiterated strong opposition to same-sex marriage and the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.’
The popular Fox News host, who appeared at The College of New Jersey in Ewing, NJ, leveled into Steele for his handling of last week’s revelation that RNC officials spent donor money at a bondage-themed Los Angeles strip club. “I think what’s happened is horrible,” Huckabee said. “The question is, how is [Steele] going to take control and how is he going to explain it? I think there does need to be a better explanation than what’s come forth so far,” he continued. “It’s been pretty weak.”
Huckabee said ongoing controversies involving Steele may become an electoral liability for Republicans as this year’s midterm elections approach. “It’s indefensible the way that some of the money has been spent,” Huckabee said, though he declined to call for Steele’s resignation. “Whether he should resign really is a question for the RNC, and I’m not a member, so I’m not going to get into that.”
Huckabee also blasted fellow presidential aspirant Mitt Romney, who as governor of Massachusetts signed into law a healthcare plan that closely resembles Congress’ recently passed reforms. “Essentially ‘Obamacare’ and what Massachusetts has is virtually identical,” Huckabee said, characterizing the system Romney supported as a “dismal failure.”
“It’s resulted in huge cost increases, exponentially beyond what was projected,” he charged. Romney’s inconsistent public comments on the matter, Huckabee continued, is likely to be a concern for Republican primary voters in 2012. “On one hand, [Romney] said the Massachusetts plan is not like the Obama plan. Then I heard him say, ‘Well, it’s similar, but we’ve learned a lot from it since then.’ So he’s going to have to come up with one answer that deals with it,” Huckabee said. “I think he’s got to make the explanation as to why he believed it was a great idea.”
Huckabee, a former Baptist preacher, remains in favor of keeping in place ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,’ the policy that requires the military to expel openly gay service members. “I wouldn’t support a repeal if I were commander-in-chief,” he said. “You don’t see foot soldiers out there demanding it. I’m not sure that’s the most important thing we ought to be doing for the military.”
“[‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’] touches an extraordinarily small group of people,” Huckabee continued. He dismissed calls to amend the policy as “primarily a posturing point for political purposes,” and an attempt to “force something on the military that they themselves haven’t pushed that hard.”
“I think we certainly should be very sensitive to the fact that the purpose of the military is not to see if we can create social experiments,” Huckabee warned.
He continues to oppose any government recognition of same-sex relationships. Even civil unions are “not necessary,” Huckabee said. “I think there’s been a real level of being disingenuous on the part of the gay and lesbian community with their goal of civil unions,” he alleged, referring to LGBT activists who first claimed that their goal in several states was to enact civil unions, but subsequently launched efforts to implement full marriage rights.
Huckabee went on to draw parallels between homosexuality and other lifestyles that are considered by some to be morally aberrant. “You don’t go ahead and accommodate every behavioral pattern that is against the ideal,” he said of same-sex marriage. “That would be like saying, well, there are a lot of people who like to use drugs, so let’s go ahead and accommodate those who want to use drugs. There are some people who believe in incest, so we should accommodate them. There are people who believe in polygamy, so we should accommodate them.”
He also affirmed support for a law in Arkansas that prohibits same-sex couples from becoming adoptive or foster parents. “I think this is not about trying to create statements for people who want to change the basic fundamental definitions of family,” Huckabee said. “And always we should act in the best interest of the children, not in the seeming interest of the adults.”
“Children are not puppies,” he continued. “This is not a time to see if we can experiment and find out, how does this work?”
In what may come as a surprise for some, Huckabee agreed that an atheist could be fit to serve as president. “I’d rather have an honest atheist than a dishonest religious person,” he said.
“It’s better to have a person who says, ‘Look, I just don’t believe, and that’s where my honest position happens to be,’” he said. “I’m frankly more OK with that than a person who says, ‘Oh, I am very much a Christian. I very much love God.’ And then they live as if they are atheists, as if they have no moral groundings at all. That’s more troubling.”
“I think it’s nice if a person believes in God,” Huckabee said. “I’d hate to think somebody was making decisions who thought that he couldn’t be higher than himself.”