Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee tells Newsmax it’s an “absolute certainty” there has been a cover-up involving the Benghazi terrorist attack and the White House “flat-out lied” to the American people about it.
He also maintains that Mitt Romney and the Republicans lost the election not because their message was wrong but because the Obama “machinery” was “staggeringly good.”
And Huckabee, who sought the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, says he won’t rule out another White House run in 2016.
Gov. Huckabee is now the host of “The Mike Huckabee Show,” broadcast on 190 stations in 44 states, and a Fox News contributor. His brand-new book is “Dear Chandler, Dear Scarlett: A Grandfather’s Thoughts on Faith, Family and the Things That Matter Most.
CIA Director David Petraeus resigned his post after acknowledging an extramarital affair, and Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee want to know why, after the FBI had been investigating this for months, they hadn’t been notified earlier.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV, Huckabee was asked if details of his affair were covered up by the White House to help Obama win re-election.
“The answer to that is I don’t know, but there are certainly some very curious things about the whole timeline,” he says.
“There are some things in Benghazi that the White House has covered up. That much is a pretty absolute certainty. They were dishonest with the American people. They flat-out lied to us about what happened. They knew they were lying to us. And they’ve been covering it up. That we know and we’ll stick with that until we find out what the White House did know.
“But it’s a tragedy to see a great soldier, a soldier’s soldier like David Petraeus, see the end of his career something less than sterling. Here was a person who, when many American were thinking about whether they were going to go to Universal Studios or Disney World and have a big time, he was literally dodging bullets for the rest of us.
“This is a man who for 38 years put his life on the line for us, a military genius, the inventor, creator and leader who actually went into battle with his troops to fight an insurgency. Nobody had ever been able to do that successfully. And that is an incredible military accomplishment that I don’t think he’s appreciated for enough.
“I’m not defending what he did in his personal life. It was wrong. He’s admitted it was wrong and I hate it for his family. But I don’t want my own thoughts about David Petraeus to be about something in his personal life as much as I want it to be about what he did for me as an American. He stood in my place. He took bullets for me and for every other American. And for that, I stand with gratitude and with great respect for his duty and honor as a soldier.”
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As to whether Petraeus really needed to resign over the affair, Huckabee says: “He resigned out of a sense of honor. You see good, decent, honorable people who get sucked into the vortex of a relationship like that for who knows [what] reasons, but King David did. He was a pretty good guy. He was said to be a man after God’s own heart. He too had a similar issue and paid dearly for it. But it didn’t mean that his whole life was destroyed because of the fact that he made big mistakes.
“[Petraeus] had to resign and he did it because he knew that he would be a distraction and because he had dishonored the job and he had compromised his position.”
Huckabee believes Petraeus will “absolutely” testify about the Benghazi events despite his resignation.
“My sense of David Petraeus is he’s a man who’s lived his whole life with the understanding of both honor and duty, and both honor and duty demand that he go and tell everything he knows.”
Republicans have done a lot of soul searching after failing to take over the presidency and the Senate. Huckabee comments: “I do believe that why the Republicans have failed is that we have spoken to America as if everybody has stepped into a corporate boardroom and is concerned about the nuts and bolts of the tax rates or the nuts and bolts of capital gains, rather than talk about hopes and dreams and aspirations of every American family. That’s how we have to connect and communicate.
“The bottom line is the Republicans did not lose the election because their message was wrong. It was because the machinery of Barack Obama and his team was absolutely staggeringly good. I think if you look at the big picture, it was a small margin really that separated the candidates. The difference was geographic, demographic. Republicans do have to a better job of reaching out to groups they lost handily this last time.”
Huckabee declares it’s “nonsense” to claim that Republicans failed to win the Senate because they ran too many tea party candidates.
“Scott Brown ran as a tea party guy and got elected, then ran from that and got defeated, so that doesn’t wash in places like Massachusetts,” he observes.
“There were a number of the establishment candidates that everybody thought would be just sure locks. They had all the money of the big party boys who dumped millions of dollars in their campaign chests and they lost as big as all the so-called tea party candidates who failed.
“I think some of these people in D.C. who run these Republican committees need to help the Republicans who win primaries, help them to be better candidates, instead of kicking them in the face the whole time because they weren’t their candidates. That really irritated me this time. I think we saw a lot of candidates lose not because the Democrats beat them up but because the Republicans did it for the Democrats.”
George Will said Florida Sen. Marco Rubio came out the biggest winner on Election Tuesday, and former Sen. Rick Santorum has suggested he could be interested in a presidential bid in 2016.
Asked who would make the strongest GOP candidate, Huckabee responds: “I love Marco – he is one of my best friends. He is a guy that I believed in before anyone really knew who he was. He was the chairman of my campaign effort when I ran for president in Florida. I was one of the first to endorse him, so certainly he will be high on the list.
“I think it’s may be a little early. There is going to be a list of 20 to 30 names that everybody is going to be talking about. That will pare down to 10 to 15 by the time that we actually get to the starting line. It could be a very different list than everybody is talking about now.
“I think it almost does people like Marco a disservice to talk about him too soon because it just puts a bulls-eye on their back. The media has a wonderful way of dealing with what I call the flavor of the week. They get all excited. They give hubbub to this potential candidate and they drill down deep and then they say, ‘Ok, that’s all there is about that one, let’s go to somebody else.’ Really, God help you if you are one of the early ones that get attention because what happens is you are the one they want to scrape off to the side as they looking at fresh meat at the meat locker.”
Asked if he was considering a run for the White House in 2016, Huckabee tells Newsmax: “I’m not ruling it out, but I’m not sitting around contemplating it.
“Frankly, I don’t have time now. I have so many things going on. When people say ‘Are you ruling it out?’ that would sort of close the door that I’m not sure I should close. Neither am I going around knocking on doors trying to tell people that I’m in because I don’t know.
“The landscape may look very different in a few years. For those that say that I have to decide right now – no, I don’t. I’m not on their time schedule. I’m on God’s first and I’m on mine second, and I’m not on some pundit’s clock and I’m never going to be.”
Republicans will have another shot to win a majority in the Senate in 2014, when 20 Democrats have to defend their seats while just 13 Republicans will be up for re-election.
Asked if the GOP can win a majority in the next midterm election, Huckabee says: “They can. It’s a matter of will they act like a team and will they support all their candidates and give them the resources they need. And then you have to have a good message.
“Bottom line is you’ve got to get your voters out, make sure that your people don’t stay home like our folks did this time and that the message is one that permeates into every demographic group and is not just a message for upper-middle-class white folks who are protecting their tax rates.”
Regarding the so-called “fiscal cliff” looming at the end of this year, some Republicans have suggested that the GOP shouldn’t be so rigid on negotiations over possible tax increases.
Huckabee offers his take: “Well, they have to be willing to recognize they don’t own all of the moving pieces, and if you don’t, you have to put something on the table.
“The fact is I wish we had the Senate and the White House. We don’t. We have one out of three parts of this puzzle and that’s not the strongest hand you’re going to the negotiating table with, which means the only thing we can do is gum up the works.
“It’s not pleasant and a lot of Republicans say, ‘No, we absolutely draw a line in the sand.’ But you know what? At the end of the day there are millions of American families who are going to be facing a $3,500 tax hit right in the gut on January 1, and I don’t want the Republican Party to be solely or even partially responsible for a family making $35,000 or $40,000 a year getting hit with somewhere between eight and 10 percent of their total income because everybody was drawing a line in the sand.
“We need to think that we may give something up but not everything. The better thing is to propose something that doesn’t raise tax rates. For example, if you limit deductions for top earners to $50,000 a year, studies show that brings in $789 billion in 10 years. That’s more money than you would get by raising the tax rates. So Republicans could put that on the table. But they can’t go into this with an attitude of all or nothing, now or never, because you get nothing and you get it forever.”
President Obama’s insistence on letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire at the end of the year for wealthier Americans is “a political point,” Huckabee adds.
“He feels that he’s got to score this in your face to people that he considers somehow overly privileged, many of whom are not privileged but blessed because they worked real hard. Some of them got lucky and they hit upon something that worked.
“What I wish I could ask him is this: ‘Mr. President, what is your goal for wanting to tax these people? Is it because you think that’s going to reduce the deficit? Because it won’t. You could take everything they have and you’d run the government for a couple of weeks.
“Is it to make a show? Then just remember that if you take the money from them, who gets hurt? Do you think their lifestyles are really going to change? Probably not. But it means they let go some people that work for them. They’re the people that are making $40,000 and $50,000 a year. They’re going to be making zero because the last person that the owner of the business fires is himself.
“I don’t think the president understands that because he’s never run a business. He’s never signed the front of a paycheck. I just wish that he could understand that if he goes in and takes money from the wealthy people because he just wants to, if there’s no way that that could be demonstrated as a positive to stimulate the economy, it just doesn’t make sense."
Editor's Note: See more of the Huckabee interview with Newsmax:
Huckabee Book: Love Letter to His Grandchildren
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