Some GOP conservatives worry that a President Mike Huckabee would be like George W. Bush in domestic policy, not using his constitutional power to restrain government spending; and like Jimmy Carter in foreign policy, not using military power to restrain anti-American forces.
Despite big jumps in spending, President Bush did not veto any bills during his first six years in office -- so I asked Huckabee, "How will you hold the line against increased federal domestic spending?"
He responded, "I will work hard to get a line-item veto that meets constitutional muster. My general philosophy will be to oppose creating new government programs . . . I will reduce the federal payroll through attrition as many baby-boomer federal employees retire."
Huckabee also emphasized the role of state government: "I will look to the states for innovations they have found in their 'laboratories of democracy' that we should adopt at the federal level, and I will look for areas where we can provide block grants to the states instead of expensive, detailed federal programs. Since states must balance their budgets, they know how to stretch taxpayer dollars more effectively than the federal government."
One oft-cited conservative charge is that Huckabee would push aside individual preferences and demand a national smoking ban. When I asked him about that, Huckabee responded, "I believe that regulation of smoking should be left up to the states. However, the issue is not banning smoking, but providing clean air for people in workplaces." That statement is a typical Huckabee turning of perspectives, from (for example) patrons of restaurants and bars to those who work there.
On the use of military force, some Christians are pacifists who believe that Jesus' injunction to turn the other cheek is a universal commandment. The more common exegesis, though, is that this refers to personal offenses but not to national policy concerning terrorism.
Question: "When an adversary attacks us, should we turn the other cheek?"
Huckabee's response: "Absolutely not, and we can't wait to be attacked; we must prevent attacks. In this age of terror, we must constantly be on the offensive to hunt down radical extremists who want to kill every last one of us and destroy our civilization."