Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee tells Newsmax that when Mitt Romney speaks at the GOP convention Thursday night, he needs to talk not to Republicans but to Democrats and independents and convince them he can fix the economy.
He also says President Obama can’t and won’t talk about his record but instead will “go out there with a baseball bat and try to crack the kneecaps," of his opponent.
Huckabee served as governor from 1996 to 2007 and sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. He now hosts a weekend show on the Fox News Channel and a daily radio show on Cumulus Media Networks.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV on Thursday, Huckabee discusses Paul Ryan and his Wednesday night speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
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“I think Paul Ryan is a brilliant choice. He brings youth and energy, and he also brings intellect,” Huckabee says.
“Last night he showed that he also brings a level of warmth. He was funny, he related, he engaged the audience both on television and in the arena.
“Most importantly, above everything else he brings a depth of understanding of both the problem and how to solve it. No one is going to catch him off guard or flatfooted when it comes to delving into the details of the federal budget, the deficit and the impact that it has upon us.”
Addressing talk that Ryan is the face of the new Republican Party, Huckabee says: “I do not think it has to promo a new image, I think it needs to solidify its standing with who we are. We are a conservative party, a pro-life party, a low-tax party, a small government party, and a local government rather than federal government-oriented party.
“This is who we are. I think he embodies that and articulates it very well.”
Asked what he will be looking for when Romney speaks at the convention, Huckabee responds: “Mitt Romney’s speech tonight is not about the arena audience. I know that may sound disrespectful to the delegates but they are going to be for him. They are going to go berserk at every applause line and they are going to rally and hoot and holler.
“He has got to deliver that speech tonight to the television cameras. In other words, he must deliver it to the people in America who are not in Tampa this week, not necessarily the hard-core Republicans who are going to vote for Mitt Romney. He has got to talk to Democrats and independents tonight, and convince them that Barack Obama has had his time and it just has not worked out.
“Now he needs to explain a little bit about who he is, but even that is not the important message. He must tell the American people what he is going to do to get this problem of our economy fixed, and then he must convince us that we can trust him with it.
“This is why I thought Ann Romney’s line the other night — when she talked about her husband and the litany of successes and said ‘this I commit to you, he will not fail’ — was the rousing moment of the entire week so far. He must validate what she said.”
Huckabee believes Romney’s need to “connect” with voters is overstated.
“Let’s be realistic — Mitt Romney is not the hail fellow well met kind of guy that goes in and jokes and kicks back with all the guys. He has lived his life as a very serious executive with a very driven agenda and has been very successful.
“I do not really care whether he is the life of the party. I want him to be a competent president. I think what we need to do is to quit trying to ask Mitt Romney to be something that would be very awkward for him. In fact, if he tried to be that it would be unnatural and unauthentic.
“We need a serious-minded executive who can take charge, put good people in place, give them the commands and the structures of what needs to get done and then hold them accountable for getting it done.”
As for the negative tone that Barack Obama has set for his campaign, Huckabee tells Newsmax: “I look at the Obama campaign and you do not hear anything about his record. You never hear an ad that says, ‘I am Barack Obama, let me tell you the great things that I have done for America,’ because he cannot do it.
“He cannot list the great accomplishments, the way America has gotten better. He cannot say that gas prices are cheaper because they are twice what they were. He cannot say your groceries are less expensive because they cost a lot more. He cannot say you are getting more money in your paycheck because you are getting less.
“There is nothing he can deliver about his own record that gives any reason for us to vote for him. All he has got is to go out there with a baseball bat and try to crack the kneecaps of Mitt Romney.
“At some point Americans are going to say, ‘Hey look, we know you don’t like Mitt Romney, that we get. What have you done? You have had four years. You have accomplished nothing except putting us deeper in the hole. Let’s take the shovel out of your hand and give it to someone who can fill the hole.’”
Huckabee also says “I really do” believe that President Obama will lose the election.
He adds: “I want to believe that the American people are going to, at some point, step back and take a good hard look at this and they will say ‘we cannot handle another four years. Nice guy, makes a great speech, but let’s put him on the speaking circuit, not keep him in the Oval Office.’”
Huckabee has been the most visible supporter of Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin after his controversial remarks about rape.
He comments: “People pronounced him dead way too soon. There was still a pulse there. A poll that I saw yesterday has him leading [incumbent Democrat] Claire McCaskill.
“I was disappointed that so many Republican leaders went out and publically abandoned him out on the battlefield. What he said was wrong, but he admitted that. If he had not admitted that, then okay, off with his head.
“The real issue is not what he said, it is what Claire McCaskill has done for six solid years and whether or not the next Senator from Missouri is going to vote for more stimulus, more abortion, more taxes, less government accountability, and more secrecy instead of transparency.
“I would like to believe that not just in Missouri, but across America people care a whole lot more about what someone does in six years than what one person inadvertently said in six seconds, for which he apologized.”
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