Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says he hasn't decided if he's going to run for president in 2012 – yet. But he does have a plan for how the Republican Party can re-energize itself and ensure success in next year's midterm elections.
“The key thing is to have some specific proposals that we can say to the American people, 'Elect us, and here's what we're going to do,' he told Newsmax.TV's Kathleen Walter.
“I suggest a balanced-budget amendment, the implementation of the fair tax, which is a consumption-based tax. I think we ought to be talking about accountability, that government officials can't raise their pay at a time when the economy is going downhill. I'd love to see a law that forces members of Congress and Senate, if they run for another office they have to resign and give up their seat and their salary and their benefits if they're going to run for something other than the office they hold. I want to see term limits imposed on members of Congress so they can't stay up there forever and make a career of it.
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“Those are just some basic reforms that I sure would like to put on the table and say to the people, 'If you elect Republicans, this is what we're going to propose and put forth in Congress.'”
Huckabee, who is promoting his new book, “A Simple Christmas: Twelve Stories that Celebrate the True Holiday Spirit,” said the party should capitalize on the momentum provided by recent Republican electoral victories. GOP candidates won gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey on Tuesday, and many more lower-profile races. Huckabee says those results should make President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats nervous heading into the 2010 midterm elections.
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“Well, if it's not a wake-up call for him [Obama], as it should be, it for sure will be a wake-up call to members of Congress who, if they don't get this message, they need to take a real good look at the Capitol and White House Christmas trees this year – because they'll be the last ones they ever see as a member of Congress. They'll be going home next year.”
The message that voters sent to Democrats on Tuesday was very clear, Huckabee said.
“What it needs to mean is that they throttle back on this very radical agenda to bring big government, high taxes and more intrusion of government into our lives,” he said. “Making decisions from everything regarding CEO pay to the healthcare system and which medical procedures we receive. I'm hoping that this is the kind of message that says to them, 'The American people don't want government to keep spending out of control, running up huge deficits and debts that their children are going to have to pay for.'”
Huckabee also believes Tuesday's results will have an impact on the fate of healthcare reform.
“I think it's got to start having a slower walk down the aisle, because if that election didn't tell them that maybe they're on the wrong track, nothing will. If they continue to push it with the speed and rapidity that they have been over the past several weeks, it'll be their undoing – it'll be their gift to the Republican Party,” he said. “And I can't believe that the Democrats would be that tone-deaf, that totally incapable of seeing the obvious during the elections.”
Despite the wave of optimism the GOP is currently riding, Huckabee isn't quite ready to make the leap when asked if he will seek the party's presidential nomination in 2012.
“That's a great question, but I don't have the answer to it. And I'm not being coy or trying to evade the question,” he said. “But I don't want to even start thinking about it until after the midterm elections next year. Look, I understand a lot of people are focused on it now, they want to talk about it now, but Barack Obama hasn't even been in office a year. And it's just way too early to start focusing on who might run and why they might run, when it's that far out.”
For the time being, Huckabee says he's busy promoting “A Simple Christmas.” It's his seventh book, and his tour includes several stops in Iowa, a key state in the presidential nominating process. Still, he says the book tour schedule isn't meant to be any indication of his future plans.
“This isn't so much about the campaign trail,” he said. “This is going to be about just meeting a lot of the people who hopefully I'll have a chance to say hi to, sign their books. We're certainly going back to a lot of places that I did visit on the campaign trail [in 2008], but it's not about a future campaign. It's about the past one, and the friendships that we made when I was out there.”
The book is a collection of Christmas stories from Huckabee's past that taught him valuable lessons on the true meaning of the holiday.
“It started, really, as my publisher called me, and we were planning a book for a year and a half from now. And he said, 'Hey, I'd like for you to consider doing a Christmas book. And my response was, 'Hey, you're Jewish. Are you sure you understand what Christmas is all about?' And he said, 'Oh I totally understand, but I just think it would be a great book and would love to hear your perspective on it. And it made me sit down and think and sort of ask how would I approach it. And the result is 'A Simple Christmas.'
“And I've had more fun doing this book; it is my favorite of the seven books that I've done. And it's not a political book at all. So when people read it, this is a book that even liberals who don't like me can read this book and enjoy it.”
For Huckabee, the true meaning of Christmas is as simple as it is powerful.
“It primarily means that when God wanted to tell me that he loved me, he did it in person,” he said. “He didn't just send a book, he didn't put a DVD set together and say, 'Hey, watch this some time.' He actually showed up in person; he got some skin on him and lived like the rest of us have to live. And he did it with a start that is just unbelievable. And that's really the framework of the book is that the first Christmas, that one in Bethlehem where it all got started, was not some elaborate, incredibly well-produced function. It was a magnificently simple affair. In fact, from the outside it looked disastrous. And that's exactly what made it the miracle that it was. So I want to make sure people understand that this is the story of a guy who, when he comes to talk to us personally, he starts out in the lowest conditions so that he can relate to us when we are at our worst and lowest moments.”
Having written the book, Huckabee is firm when asked if the growing secularism around Christmas means American needs more God and less government.
“Oh absolutely,” he said. “I mean, too much government and a whole lot less of God is what's caused a lot of our problems. Even the economic downturn. Wall Street didn't crash because of money; it crashed because of the lack of morality. It was unmitigated greed that brought about the collapse of the financial system. And that is a moral issue. It's not just an issue about how much money is in anybody's account on any given day. It's distressing to me that people would think that we would even get to the place in this culture of ours that we would be ashamed of admitting that Christmas is about Christ. That's what the whole word means. The political correctness ought to give way to reality.”
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