Politics

Here are Mike Huckabee's Stances on 5 Major Issues You Care About

Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, made his much-anticipated presidential campaign official Tuesday, becoming yet another high-profile contender for the Republican Party nomination. The Hope, Ark., native first ran for president in 2008 when he surprised many by winning the Iowa caucuses against well-funded opponents such as Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Arizona Sen. John McCain. Huckabee served as the 44th governor of Arkansas, holding the role from 1996-2007, until his first presidential run. After he lost his bid for the nomination, Huckabee became a radio host, Fox News contributor, and ultimately got his own Fox show, which he ended earlier this year to prepare another presidential run. The GOP candidate has also written and co-authored several books including "God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy," which was published this year. A former pastor with a degree in theology, Huckabee is known for publicly voicing his dedication to religion.

So where does he stand on some of the issues you care about?

1. Higher Education

In 2012, Huckabee said on Fox News that he disapproved of the prospect of student loan interest rates doubling.

"It should not happen, because it would be the essence of a tax increase," he said. "When the economy is in the kind of shape that it is in right now and particularly when it is very difficult for a lot of people to get to college and more importantly to get a job when they get out, the worst thing you can do is to say while you are down, here is number 13 shoe, let me put in your back side. That is just not going."

In that same interview, Huckabee went on to say Republicans should try to lobby for an extension of the Bush era tax cuts in exchange for student loan freezing, according to The Huffington Post, which described the move as "political bargaining chip rather than a sincere belief."

That day, President Barack Obama announced an "all-out push" for federal student loan interest rates to remain at low levels. Huckabee said of Obama's effort, "[The GOP should] get out in front of the issue. Congratulate the president for bringing it up."

2. Marijuana

Huckabee opposes medical and recreational marijuana. Last year, he wrote in a Facebook post that any potential tax gains from legalizing marijuana don't outweigh the consequences of allowing people to use drugs.

"Added to tax revenues from medical marijuana, that totaled monthly tax revenue to the state of $3.5 million. But at what cost? The money is earmarked for youth prevention services, substance abuse treatment and public health," he wrote. "But what is a young person supposed to think when the state says, 'Don’t do drugs…even though everyone around you is…and the same authority figures who tell you it’s bad not only condone it, but are also making a big profit off it'?"

In 2010, Huckabee invited comedian Tommy Chong onto his show for a segment titled "Is Pot Ruining Our Kids?" The segment, however, ended on a negative note with Chong declaring Huckabee a "mushroom farmer."

3. Immigration

Huckabee seems supportive of the DREAM Act, which, if passed, would allow undocumented residents who were brought to the U.S. as children to become permanent residents. During a Meet the Press appearance in January, he called it unfair to deport so-called Dreamers: "You don't punish a child for something his parents did," he said. During a stop on his book tour a few days later, he echoed a similar sentiment, "I don’t believe that it is a just thing to punish someone who had nothing to do with the breaking of the law. What I want to do is see, what can we do to put that person in a position where they do abide by the law and become a citizen? I would like that person to become a very generous tax-paying citizen rather than somebody who is going to take taxes away from the rest of us."

At the same event, Huckabee told the Cinderella Story of a boy of undocumented immigrants who graduated valedictorian from Arkansas' largest high school, saying, "Does he get the scholarship and go on to college so that he can become perhaps a doctor, a lawyer, an accountant, a teacher?” Huckabee said. “Or do we say, ‘No son, you’re as far as you can go. You need to pick tomatoes.’ I don’t know how in the world that we’re going to punish that kid for something he had no control over. If that bothers you to the point that you’d say, ‘I’d never vote for you,’ then you’re never going to vote for me, because that’s something on which I will not recant."

While he was governor of Arkansas, he allowed the offspring of undocumented immigrants to receive in-state tuition at state universities.

With respect to immigration generally, in March, Huckabee said at the Iowa Agriculture Summit that America must do a better job keeping undocumented immigrants out of the country. Though he acknowledged that many of them "embrace our way of life," he said others come over "because they heard there is a bowl of food just across the border."

4. Environment

Earlier this year, Huckabee criticized President Barack Obama's State of the Union address for emphasizing the severity of climate change. Speaking at Rep. Steve King’s Iowa Freedom Summit, Huckabee insinuated that Obama should have identified the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) as the biggest danger to humankind, not climate change, "A beheading is a far greater threat to an American than a sunburn." On his radio show, Huckabee also cast doubt about the certitude of climate change saying, "When I was in college, all the literature at that time from the scientific community said that we were going to freeze to death.”

This is a departure from his 2007 comments on climate change, when he said it's our responsibility to God to protect the planet. "The first thing I will do as president is send Congress my comprehensive plan for energy independence,” he wrote on his then-presidential campaign website, as pointed out by Salon. “We will achieve energy independence by the end of my second term.”

Speaking to Salon, he attacked the GOP for doing a bad job tackling the issue of conservation, "For one thing, I’m one of the few people who’s actually talked about the fact that as Republicans we have done a lousy job of presenting the case for conservation. We ought to be the leaders, but unfortunately we’ve been the last people speaking out on conservation. Not only as a Republican, but as a Christian it’s important to me to say to my fellow believers, 'Look, if anybody ought to be leading on this issue, it ought to be us.' We can’t justify destroying a planet that doesn’t belong to us, and if we believe that God did create this world for our pleasure and wants us to enjoy it, then all the more reason that we should take care of it ... [E]nergy independence is not only an environmental and economic concern, but an urgent national-security priority."

5. LGBT Rights

Given his strong religious beliefs, Huckabee does not agree with gay marriage.

"This is not just a political issue. It is a biblical issue. And as a biblical issue -- unless I get a new version of the scriptures, it's really not my place to say, OK, I'm just going to evolve," he said on CNN's State of the Union earlier this year. "It's like asking someone who's Jewish to start serving bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli. We don't want to do that -- I mean, we're not going to do that. Or like asking a Muslim to serve up something that is offensive to him, or to have dogs in his backyard. We're so sensitive to make sure we don't offend certain religions, but then we act like Christians can't have the convictions that they've had for 2,000 years."

But that doesn't mean he'll totally shun people with different lifestyle choices than him. He went on to say during the same interview, "People can be my friends who have lifestyles that are not necessarily my lifestyle. I don't shut people out of my circle or out of my life because they have a different point of view."

He took issue with the fact that certain stances, such as opposition to gay marriage, are shunned to extreme levels in this country, "I'd like to think that there's room in America for people who have different points of view without screaming and shouting and wanting to shut their businesses down. What worries me in this new environment we're in, it's not just that someone might disagree, they don't want to argue with me, even take a different point of view. They want to close someone's business down."

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