Presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee wrote the following letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal in response to Friday’s column by John Fund, which chastised him for not being a consistent conservative:
To the Editor:
John Fund’s view of my ten-and-a-half-year record as governor of Arkansas and my vision for America’s future (“Another Man from Hope, Who is Mike Huckabee?”) calls for me to set the record straight.
It’s important to note that every living Republican in Arkansas who has been elected to either a statewide or a federal office has endorsed my candidacy. I’m grateful for their support and proud that in 1998, I received the largest percentage of votes ever received by a Republican gubernatorial nominee in Arkansas, and that Arkansans re-elected me to another four-year term in November 2002.
I am even prouder that, throughout my tenure as governor and lieutenant governor of Arkansas, I campaigned tirelessly for countless Republican candidates for the state house and federal office – and even helped get some elected.
As governor, I pushed through the Arkansas Legislature the first major, broad-based tax cuts in state history — a $90 million tax relief package for Arkansas families; led efforts to establish a Property Taxpayers' Bill of Rights; and created a welfare reform program that reduced the welfare rolls in the state by almost 50 percent. We also doubled the standard deduction to $2,000 for single taxpayers and $4,000 for those who are married. In total, I led the fight to cut taxes and fees over 90 times during my ten-and-a-half years as governor, saving the people of Arkansas almost $380 million. When I left office, Arkansas had over $800 million in state surplus.
One of my proudest achievements as governor was signing legislation creating ARKids First – creating health insurance coverage for more than 70,000 Arkansas children who otherwise might have gone without. I am firmly committed to finding a way to provide health care and a better education for America’s children, who hold the key to our nation’s future. Unfortunately, there seems to be a serious misunderstanding about my SCHIP comment at a recent presidential debate.
I was not criticizing President Bush’s veto as a matter of policy, but as a matter of politics. I fully believe that Bush should have negotiated a compromise and not let it get to the point of a veto. Bush indicated he was willing to spend more than the $5 billion he originally proposed, but less than the $35 billion the Democrats pushed through, so there was clearly room to negotiate. In no way do I support spending an additional $35 billion, or moving two million children from private insurance to government insurance, or letting SCHIP be a step on the path to socialized medicine.
I believe that we must be good stewards of our environment and support many paths to reducing our emission of greenhouse gases, such as more nuclear power and alternative sources of clean energy. As part of our overall effort, I also support a cap and trade system, which has worked well for reduction of sulphur dioxide emissions. However, I do not agree with those who want all allowances to be auctioned off because I believe that will create too great a burden on businesses. The alternative to cap and trade is a carbon tax, which I don’t support.
It is difficult to fully understand the institutional challenges of a Republican running for office in Arkansas. In 1993, when I was elected lieutenant governor, I was the fourth Republican to be elected to statewide office since Reconstruction. Students of Arkansas politics should talk to former U.S. Senator Tim Hutchinson, U.S. Rep. John Boozman or former Rep. Jay Dickey, all of whom support my candidacy for president, but none of whom is cited in Fund’s column, about these challenges.
Nevertheless, running for election and re-election, and more importantly, governing in an overwhelmingly Democratic state, prepared me to climb that next mountain: running for president and leading America with an optimistic vision and solid plans to successfully confront the complex challenges we face today.
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.
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