Q&A with Governor Mike Huckabee

Potential Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee discussed his view of the power of public employee unions, the Obama administration's decision to stop defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, and conservatives' criticism of Michelle Obama's anti-obesity campaign at a Feb. 23 Monitor tea.

Michael Bonfigli/Special to The Christian Science Monitor
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington, DC, Feb. 23.

Presidential contender Mike Huckabee was governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007. He ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and now hosts a program on Fox News Channel. He was the guest speaker at the Feb. 23 Monitor tea in Washington, D.C.

His view of the power of public employee unions, which several Republican governors are seeking to curtail:

"If it's not eliminated, I think it has to be certainly somehow contained in a reasonable and responsible way.... [I]t is not the same to have collective bargaining at a public employee level as it is [at the] private sector level, because of the lack of competition."

The Obama administration's decision to stop defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman:

"They are clearly out of sync with the public.... Thirty-three states have had [the issue] on the ballot for the people to make a decision.... Thirty-three states, including very liberal states like California and Maine, have affirmed traditional marriage.... What does the president believe he knows that citizens in all these other states don't?... I find it very disappointing."

His fellow conservatives' criticism of Michelle Obama's antiobesity campaign, called Let's Move:

"Unfortunately, I think a lot of it is because she is the one presenting it.... I still think her approach is the right one. I do not think that she is out there advocating that the government take over our dinner plates.... She has been criticized unfairly by a lot of my fellow conservatives.... It is out of a reflex rather than out of a thoughtful expression.... We don't have to believe that everything the other side proposes is immediately and altogether bad."

Medicare as part of solving the nation's budget problems:

"There's got to be revamp, maybe looking at voucher programs, to put more control in the hands of the individual patient.... Medicare is portable, but it's not really personal, in that there's no incentive for the recipient to save any money. When the person who receives the benefit isn't the same person who's paying for the benefit, it's a recipe for abuse.... I don't think we can leave anything off the table."

US policy on the Afghanistan war:

"The honest answer is I don't think any of us know exactly [what comes next].... I'm asking people, tell me what is it we do to say, 'We're done'? Help me to understand that, because I'm not sure, and so I think it's time for us to have some very honest conversations with ourselves."

Deciding whether to run again for president:

"Unlike some people who are talking about running, I really do understand the sensation of it.... Obviously, I am better known [than in 2008]. I am polling at the top of virtually every national poll.... It puts me in a very different position. It doesn't mean I can wait indefinitely, but it certainly means I would be smart to wait for not only the field to develop, but [also] to not walk away from a platform where I get to determine what I want to talk about."

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