Hugh Hewitt

HH: Well, I understand that from the state side, but I’m talking about the federal lawmakers getting involved in this and imposing on states a uniform standard. Do you…just for the workplace. Do you support federal laws mandating standards for workplace non-smoke environments?  

MH: I personally would on the workplace issue. If there are two or more people, and as long as anyone under the age of 21 worked in that place, there ought to be some protections for them. 

This is not the answer of a candidate who believes in federalism, and if federalism isn't a sufficient response on federal anti-smoking rules, how will it help the GOP survive the push for one-size-fits-all Hillarycare? 

There is no doubt that Mike Huckabee is a pro-life warrior.  His record on taxes during his governorship is mixed, with many cuts and some hikes, and his biggest hike was the result of a state supreme court mandate.  Huckabee's thus got a solid answer to his harshest critics in the Club for Growth.

Huckabee is clearly out of the Bush mold when it comes to illegal immigration, with a bias towards letting good folks who pose no threat to the national security stay here after the fence gets built --which is my general view as well.

But there is a real question about Huckabee's ideological commitment to the bottom-line for many conservatives:  Are the states an appendage and an afterthought, or do they matter as a crucial bulwark against creeping big government impulses?

Governors, especially long-serving governors like Mike Huckabee, should be the most experienced and most forceful advocates for a robust federalism.  Huckabee's willingness to cede control of the smoking issue to the feds is a very troubling indication of an indifference to a crucial constitutional principle that needs buttressing not diminishing as Campaign 2008 opens.

The governor promised a return visit, one not limited the dozen minutes I was rationed, and I look forward to it.

But for now, those suspicions about Mike Huckabee's conservative credentials seem more solid than they were even two weeks ago.

Hugh Hewitt

Hugh Hewitt is host of a nationally syndicated radio talk show. Hugh Hewitt's new book is The War On The West.