Iowa Public Television

 

Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee

posted on September 21, 2005

Borg: GOVERNING ARKANSAS. COULD IT AGAIN BE A ROAD TO THE WHITE HOUSE? WE'LL DISCUSS THOSE PROSPECTS AND MORE WITH ARKANSAS REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR MIKE HUCKABEE, NOW CHAIR OF THE NATIONAL GOVERNORS ASSOCIATION, ON THIS EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS." FUNDING FOR "IOWA PRESS" WAS PROVIDED BY "FRIENDS," THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; AND BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS. ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16 EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS." HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: GOVERNORS ACROSS THE NATION, ESPECIALLY THOSE IN THE SOUTH AND SOUTHWEST, ARE HUSTLING RIGHT NOW TO ACCOMMODATE THOSE LEFT HOMELESS AND OTHERWISE DISPLACED BY HURRICANE KATRINA. ARKANSAS ALONE BRACED FOR AS MANY AS 80,000 EVACUEES. OUR GUEST, ARKANSAS GOVERNOR MIKE HUCKABEE, AND HIS STATE RELIEF ORGANIZATIONS ARE IN THE MIDST OF THAT EFFORT RIGHT NOW. GOVERNOR HUCKABEE IS NOW IN HIS SECOND FOUR-YEAR TERM. HE ALSO IS NOW CHAIRING THE NATIONAL GOVERNORS ASSOCIATION. AND BECAUSE HE'S IN IOWA THIS WEEKEND, IT'S WORTH NOTING THAT HE'S AMONG THOSE MENTIONED AS A POTENTIAL CANDIDATE FOR THE 2008 REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION. GOVERNOR HUCKABEE, WELCOME TO "IOWA PRESS."

Huckabee: WELL, THANK YOU, DEAN. IT'S AN HONOR TO BE WITH YOU.

Borg: AND ACROSS THE TABLE, TWO GENTLEMEN I THINK THAT YOU KNOW: DAVID YEPSEN, POLITICAL COLUMNIST WITH "THE DES MOINES REGISTER," AND MIKE GLOVER, SENIOR POLITICAL AND LEGISLATIVE REPORTER FOR THE "ASSOCIATED PRESS."

Glover: GOVERNOR, DEAN RAISED THE ISSUE IN HIS INTRODUCTION OF YOU. THIS IS IOWA. YOU'VE BEEN HERE A COUPLE OF TIMES. YOU'VE BEEN TALKED ABOUT AS A POTENTIAL REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. ARE YOU RUNNING FOR THE REPUBLICAN NOMINATION, AND ARE YOU CONSIDERING IT?

Huckabee: WELL, MIKE, I THINK RIGHT NOW THE LIST OF POTENTIAL CANDIDATES WOULD FILL THE DES MOINES PHONE BOOK. I THINK EVERY REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR WHO MAYBE HAS BEEN SEEN ON C-SPAN MORE THAN TWICE IS NOW A POTENTIAL CANDIDATE. AS I'VE TOLD PEOPLE, I'M NOT RULING IT OUT AND I'M HONESTLY, YOU KNOW, GIVING CONSIDERATION TO LOOKING AT IT. BUT I THINK THAT DECISION HAS TO BE MADE A YEAR OR MORE FROM NOW. I DON'T THINK IT'S A DECISION THAT I'M READY TO MAKE TODAY. WE'RE BARELY INTO THIS PRESIDENT'S FIRST YEAR IN HIS SECOND TERM. SO I REALLY AM NOT TRYING TO BE COY, BUT I JUST FEEL LIKE THAT IT'S A LITTLE EARLY TO MAKE THE DECISION. BUT LET'S BE HONEST; ANYBODY THAT COMES POKING AROUND UP IN IOWA IN AN OFF-YEAR --

Glover: IS GOING TO GET THAT QUESTION.

Huckabee: WELL, THERE'S NO POINT IN ME SAYING, NO, IT'S NEVER CROSSED MY MIND, BECAUSE YOU WOULDN'T BELIEVE IT AND NO ONE WATCHING WOULD EITHER.

Glover: WELL, LET'S GO A LITTLE BIT FURTHER THEN. WHAT ARE THE ISSUES THAT WILL GO INTO YOUR MAKING A DECISION? AND YOUR TIME FRAME IS SOMETIME WITHIN A YEAR, OR SOMETIME A YEAR FROM NOW?

Huckabee:A YEAR AND A HALF. I MEAN I HAVEN'T PUT MYSELF ON A CALENDAR. BUT LET ME PUT IT THIS WAY: IF IN DES MOINES IN THE MORNING OR TOMORROW SOMETIME, YOU KNOW, THERE WERE 20,000 PEOPLE FROM IOWA STANDING ON THE STREETS OF -- DOWN GRAND AVENUE SCREAMING MY NAME, I'M SURE I WOULD SEE A VISION FROM HEAVEN. BUT BARRING THAT, WHAT I REALLY WANT TO REALLY SORT THROUGH IS, NUMBER ONE, IS THERE SOMETHING THAT WOULD BE UNIQUE THAT I WOULD BRING TO THE DISCUSSION OF A PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN THAT WOULD RESONATE WITH VOTERS AND THAT WOULD HAVE AN IMPACT ON THIS COUNTRY? I'D LIKE TO BELIEVE THAT THAT'S WHY I RAN FOR GOVERNOR AND THAT'S WHY I WAS ELECTED TWICE AND WILL END UP SERVING TEN AND A HALF YEARS. WHETHER THAT TRANSLATES INTO A NATIONAL PLATFORM, I THINK, YOU KNOW, THERE'S TIME TO WORK WITH THAT.

Yepsen: GOVERNOR, YOU'RE HITTING A LOT OF THE RIGHT AUDIENCES FOR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE THIS WEEKEND, TALKING TO POLK COUNTY REPUBLICANS, TALKING TO SOME OF THE RELIGIOUS CONSERVATIVES INSIDE THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. GIVE US A PREVIEW. WHAT'S YOUR MESSAGE?

Huckabee: I THINK THE MESSAGE THAT I HAVE IS THAT WE'VE GOT TO REBUILD AMERICA. I MEAN I REALLY BELIEVE THAT. I FEEL IT IN MY STATE. IT INVOLVES NOT ONLY THE PLACES OF AMERICA -- I THINK THE PRESIDENT IN HIS MESSAGE THIS WEEK AFTER THE KATRINA DISASTER CERTAINLY TOUCHED UPON THE NEED TO REBUILD THE GULF COAST, BUT THERE'S A LOT OF AMERICA THAT NEEDS REBUILDING: OUR ROADS, OUR BRIDGES, OUR AIRPORTS. BUT THE PEOPLE OF AMERICA, THERE'S A SENSE IN WHICH -- I DIDN'T COME UP LIKE A LOT OF PEOPLE EXPECT REPUBLICANS TO COME UP. MINE WAS NOT THE SILVER SPOON BACKGROUND. IT WAS NOT THE SILK STOCKING BACKGROUND. IT WAS THE COTTON SOCK. AND, QUITE FRANKLY, A PLASTIC SPOON WOULD HAVE BEEN QUITE WELCOME IN OUR HOME. I WAS THE CHILD NOT OF PRIVILEGE, BUT OF WORKING CLASS PARENTS. I GREW UP UNDERSTANDING WHAT IT IS TO BARELY GET BY FROM MONTH TO MONTH. I THINK THAT THERE IS A NEED IN POLITICS, FOR PEOPLE WHO KNOW HOW HARD IT IS FOR PEOPLE WHOSE INCOMES AREN'T KEEPING UP WITH THE RATE OF INFLATION, TO UNDERSTAND THAT PUBLIC POLICY REALLY DOES HAVE AN IMPACT AND THAT THERE'S A LOT OF DIFFERENT KINDS OF TERROR THAT WE NEED TO BE WORRIED ABOUT. SOME OF THE TERROR THAT WE WORRY ABOUT ARE TERRORS LIKE AN IED EXPLOSIVE DEVICE ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD. BUT I'LL TELL YOU WHAT TERROR IS. TERROR IS THE SINGLE MOM WHOSE KID BREAKS HIS ARM AT SCHOOL AND SHE'S NOT SURE SHE CAN AFFORD THE DOCTOR BILLS. AND IT MEANS THAT IF SHE GETS THE ARM FIXED, SHE MAY NOT BE ABLE TO PAY THE CAR PAYMENT ON THE USED CAR THAT SHE'S DRIVING. I THINK IT'S SENSITIVITY TO HOW MUCH STRUGGLE THERE IS IN THE COUNTRY IS SOMETHING THAT OUR POLICIES NEED TO IMPACT.

Borg: IF AS YOU CONSIDER WHETHER OR NOT YOU DO SEEK THE REPUBLICAN NOMINATION, YOU ALSO, I WOULD THINK, HAVE TO ASSESS WHERE THE PARTY IS AND WHERE YOU ARE PHILOSOPHICALLY. ARE YOU PHILOSOPHICALLY ALIGNED RIGHT NOW WITH WHERE THE REPUBLICAN PARTY SEEMS TO BE ON THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM?

Huckabee: WELL, I'M PRO LIFE, PRO TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE. I THINK IN MANY WAYS, I'M AS REPUBLICAN AS ANYBODY CAN BE REPUBLICAN. I THINK IF THERE'S A DIFFERENCE, IT'S THAT WHEN IT COMES TO ISSUES OF, LET'S SAY, FISCAL POLICY, I'M CONSERVATIVE. I THINK WE OUGHT NOT TO HAVE TAXES THAT CONTINUE TO GO UP AND UP BECAUSE THOSE AFFECT ALL PEOPLE IN ALL PARTS OF THE SPECTRUM OF THE ECONOMY. BUT I ALSO BELIEVE THAT IT'S NOT A MATTER OF SAYING GOVERNMENT IS ALL BAD. TO ME THAT'S NOT A REPUBLICAN PHILOSOPHY; THAT'S A LIBERTARIAN PHILOSOPHY. A TRUE REPUBLICAN BELIEVES THAT THERE IS A ROLE FOR GOVERNMENT. IT'S AN IMPORTANT ROLE, BUT GOVERNMENT OUGHT TO BE ACCOUNTABLE. IT OUGHT TO BE RESPONSIBLE. IT OUGHT TO BE ABLE TO JUSTIFY THE MONEY THAT IT DOES TAKE OUT OF PEOPLE'S POCKETS, AND WHEN IT SPENDS IT, IT OUGHT TO BE ABLE TO LOOK THE TAXPAYER IN THE EYE AND SAY: HERE'S WHAT I DID WITH THAT MONEY; HERE'S HOW IT BETTER EDUCATED YOUR KIDS; HERE ARE THE ROADS THAT IT BUILT; HERE ARE THE ELDERLY PEOPLE THAT GOT MEDICINE BECAUSE OF IT OR EYEGLASSES BECAUSE OF IT. IF WE CAN'T DO THAT -- IF IT DOESN'T HAVE SOME KIND OF VALUE THAT WE CAN FACE PEOPLE WITH, THEN I THINK THAT REPUBLICANS WOULD SAY THAT'S OVERSPENDING AND, FRANKLY, THAT'S ONE OF THE PROBLEMS IN AMERICA. IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE TAXED TOO LITTLE; IT'S THAT WE TEND TO SPEND TOO MUCH.

Yepsen: GOVERNOR, GIVE US A CONDITION REPORT ON YOUR PARTY. I'VE SEEN SOME POLLING THAT SUGGESTS REPUBLICANS ARE IN REAL TROUBLE IN CONGRESS. GENERIC CONGRESSIONAL POLLING SHOWS DEMOCRATS UP BY 12 POINTS IN SOME POLLS. PRESIDENT BUSH'S JOB APPROVAL IS AT A RECORD LOW. WHAT IS THE CONDITION OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY?

Huckabee: I THINK RIGHT NOW, AS OFTEN IS THE CASE IN A MIDTERM ELECTION WHERE YOU'VE GOT A PRESIDENT IN HIS SECOND TERM, YOU KNOW, THERE'S SOME ANXIETY. AND CERTAINLY ONE OF THE THINGS THAT'S CREATED IT IS HIGH GASOLINE AND ENERGY PRICES. THAT IS A CONCERN AND IT'S A REAL CONCERN TO WORKING CLASS PEOPLE, PEOPLE WHO CAN'T JUST SAY, WELL, GAS IS GOING TO GO UP BUT IT'S NOT GOING TO AFFECT MY VACATION PLANS. WELL, IT DOES AFFECT THE VACATION PLANS OF HOURLY WAGED WORKERS. AND IT DOES AFFECT NOT JUST THE VACATION PLANS -- IT MEANS THEY DON'T HAVE ONE -- BUT IT AFFECTS THEIR CAPACITY TO GET TO WORK AND BACK AND WHETHER THEY CAN PUT JEANS ON THEIR KIDS. THAT'S AN ISSUE AND IT'S CREATED ANXIETY.

Glover: HAS THE PARTY DRIFTED TOO FAR TO THE RIGHT?

Huckabee: I DON'T THINK WE'VE DRIFTED TOO FAR TO THE RIGHT. I THINK THAT OUR ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE AS TO WHAT THE PHILOSOPHY IS AND HOW IT IMPACTS FAMILIES IS PROBABLY SOMETHING WE NEED TO REVISIT. LET ME GIVE AN EXAMPLE. IF YOU TALK TO THE AVERAGE WORKING PERSON ABOUT MARGINAL TAX RATES, THAT'S DOESN'T REALLY RESONATE AND THAT'S NOT SOMETHING THAT'S JUST GOING TO WIND UP THE MOTOR. BUT YOU NEED TO BE TALKING ABOUT HOW THIS FAMILY CAN BE EMPOWERED SO THAT THEY CAN CONTROL MORE OF THEIR OWN INCOME AND DECIDE TO SEND THEIR KIDS TO CAMP IN THE SUMMER OR BUY THEM A BAND INSTRUMENT SO THAT THEIR CHILD CAN PLAY THE TROMBONE. THAT MATTERS TO PARENTS. KNOWING THAT THEIR NEIGHBORHOODS ARE GOING TO BE SAFE, THAT MATTERS. SOMETIMES I THINK THAT WE AS A PARTY TEND TO BE VERY PHILOSOPHICAL AND EVEN TEND TO TALK IN IDEOLOGICAL TERMS THAT GO RIGHT PAST A PERSON WHOSE PRIMARY CONCERN IS WILL MY SEVEN-YEAR-OLD CHILD ONE DAY BE ABLE TO AFFORD TO GO TO COLLEGE.

Yepsen: WELL, GOVERNOR, AS I WAS GETTING READY FOR THIS INTERVIEW, I WAS LOOKING AT YOUR RECORD. YOU KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT WINNING ELECTIONS AS A REPUBLICAN IN A DEMOCRATIC STATE OF ARKANSAS. SO WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE TO YOUR PARTY OF THINGS IT SHOULD DO RIGHT NOW TO AVOID TAKING THE TRADITIONAL MIDTERM HIT?

Huckabee: TALK TO PEOPLE'S HEARTS, NOT JUST THEIR HEADS. I THINK OUR MESSAGE SPEAKS TO THE HEARTS OF AMERICANS, BECAUSE WHEN WE TALK ABOUT WANTING TO MAKE SURE THAT PEOPLE ARE TREATED WITH DIGNITY AND FAIRNESS AS INDIVIDUALS, THAT'S A FUNDAMENTAL -- JUST MAYBE FOUNDATION OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY, IS THAT WE BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF THE INDIVIDUAL. THAT'S WHY I'M REPUBLICAN, BECAUSE IF I HAD ACCEPTED SORT OF THE CLASSIC LIBERAL VIEW OF MY OWN STATUS IN LIFE, I WOULD HAVE SAID: OKAY, NO ONE IN MY FAMILY FROM UPSTREAM FORWARD HAS EVER EVEN FINISHED HIGH SCHOOL, MUCH LESS BEEN TO COLLEGE; SO, THEREFORE, I DON'T HAVE A CHANCE; I'M JUST GOING TO HAVE TO TAKE A FACTORY JOB; I'M NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO GO TO COLLEGE; I'M NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO FINISH HIGH SCHOOL. BUT MY PARENTS INSTILLED IN ME THAT IN AMERICA, IF I WOULD TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE EDUCATION -- AND I WAS EDUCATED IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS, BECAUSE I DIDN'T HAVE AN OPTION. PRIVATE SCHOOLS WERE NOT AN OPTION FOR ME. SO I BELIEVE IN PUBLIC EDUCATION. ALL OF MY CHILDREN WERE EDUCATED COMPLETELY, FIRST THROUGH TWELFTH GRADE, PUBLIC EDUCATION. THE FIRST GOVERNOR IN FIFTY YEARS IN ARKANSAS WHO COULD SAY THAT, BY THE WAY. THAT'S AN INTERESTING THING, BECAUSE ALL THE DEMOCRATS TALK ABOUT HOW MUCH THEY LOVE PUBLIC EDUCATION, BUT THEIR KIDS WENT TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS. MY POINT IS THAT BECAUSE I BELIEVED IN THE POWER OF THE INDIVIDUAL, THAT NO MATTER WHERE WE WERE WHEN WE STARTED IN LIFE -- WE DIDN'T CHOOSE THAT -- BUT WE HAD SOMETHING TO SAY ABOUT WHERE WE WOULD END IN LIFE. AND THAT WAS UP TO US WITH RESPONSIBILITY IN TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE FREEDOMS, THE LIBERTIES, AND THE OPPORTUNITIES THIS COUNTRY AFFORDS US.

Glover: SOMETHING ELSE DEAN MENTIONED IN HIS INTRODUCTION OF YOU WAS THE REACTION TO HURRICANE KATRINA. WHAT'S YOUR ASSESSMENT OF HOW THAT REACTION HAS BEEN FROM BOTH THE ADMINISTRATION AND FROM LOCAL OFFICIALS? HOW WELL HAS THE ADMINISTRATION DONE? HOW WELL HAVE LOCAL OFFICIALS DONE? OR IS THIS JUST A BLAME GAME GOING ON?

Huckabee: WELL, THERE'S A LOT OF BLAME GAME GOING ON, AND I'M FOCUSED MORE ON WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO WITH THE TENS OF THOUSANDS OF EVACUEES IN OUR STATE BECAUSE, QUITE FRANKLY, THERE'S A LONG LINE OF PEOPLE THAT WANT TO STAND UP AND POINT FINGERS AND LAY BLAME. IT'S A PRETTY SHORT LINE OF FOLKS WHO REALLY WANT TO ROLL UP THEIR SLEEVES AND MAKE SURE THESE EVACUEES NOT ONLY GET FOOD AND SHELTER BUT THAT THEY ALSO GET SOMETHING THEY DESPERATELY NEED RIGHT NOW, AND THAT IS A SENSE OF HOPE. THEY NEED HUGS. I DON'T MEAN TO BE BLUNT, BUT THEY NEED THAT. BUT WAS THERE A FAILURE ON THE PART OF GOVERNMENT? ABSOLUTELY.

Glover: BOTH LEVELS?

Huckabee: EVERY LEVEL: LOCAL, STATE, FEDERAL. THE PRESIDENT HAS ADMITTED THAT. THE GOVERNOR OF LOUISIANA, A GOOD FRIEND OF MINE, KATHLEEN BLANCO, A DEMOCRAT, BUT A GOOD LADY, SHE'S ADMITTED THAT THERE WERE BREAKDOWNS, AND CERTAINLY THERE WERE. BUT I THINK THAT THE REAL ISSUE NOW IS NOT TO SAY, OKAY, WHERE DID WE FAIL. THERE IS A TIME TO SORT THROUGH THAT, AND WE NEED TO DO IT SO IT DOESN'T HAPPEN AGAIN. BUT THE BIGGER ISSUE IS WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO IN TERMS OF REBUILDING THE GULF COAST, RESTORING HOPE TO THOSE PEOPLE, AND THEN, IMPORTANTLY, WHAT ARE WE GOING TO LEARN FROM THIS SO THAT THIS DOESN'T HAPPEN AGAIN, BECAUSE THERE WILL BE ANOTHER SIGNIFICANT DISASTER.

Yepsen: YOU ANTICIPATE MY FOLLOW-UP QUESTION. WHAT LESSONS HAVE YOU LEARNED AS A GOVERNOR? I MEAN AS YOU LOOK AT THIS THING UNFOLD, WHAT DO YOU SAY, YOU KNOW, WE'RE GOING TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT STARTING TOMORROW? IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN TELL US RIGHT NOW THAT YOU KNOW IS A LESSON THAT YOU LEARNED OR THAT OTHER GOVERNORS SHOULD LEARN?

Huckabee: DAVID, THERE ARE TWO THINGS THAT NEED TO HAPPEN IN EVERY DISASTER, AND I'M NOT SURE THEY HAPPENED IN THE KATRINA AFTERMATH. FIRST OF ALL, YOU HAVE TO HAVE A UNIFIED COMMAND AND CONTROL. YOU HAVE TO KNOW WHERE THE LINES OF COMMAND ARE, WHO IS IN CHARGE, AND THAT'S GOT TO BE CLEAR. THE WAY THE DISASTER SYSTEM IN AMERICA WORKS -- AND YOU GUYS KNOW THIS BUT A LOT OF THE AUDIENCE MAY NOT -- A DISASTER IS KEPT AT THE LOCAL -- AT THE MOST LOCAL LEVEL THAT IT CAN BE CONTAINED. SO IN OUR STATE, IT'S AT THE COUNTY LEVEL. AND UNTIL THE COUNTY JUDGE DECLARES AN EMERGENCY AND REQUESTS STATE HELP, THE STATE CAN'T INTERVENE. THE STATE CAN INTERVENE AT THAT POINT. UNTIL WE DECLARE AN EMERGENCY AND REQUEST FEDERAL ASSISTANCE, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CAN'T STEP IN. AND IN A WAY, THAT'S THE WAY IT OUGHT TO BE BECAUSE OUR CONSTITUTION IS VERY CLEAR THAT YOU CAN'T HAVE A FEDERAL GOVERNMENT COMING IN AND USURPING THE AUTHORITY OF A LOCAL GOVERNMENT. IT VIOLATES THE VERY BASIC FUNDAMENTAL TENETS OF OUR UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION. THERE ARE CIRCUMSTANCES, HOWEVER, WHEN THE SITUATIONS ARE SO OVERWHELMING THAT THAT WHOLE PROCESS OF COMMAND AND CONTROL NEEDS TO BE VERY QUICKLY PASSED UP THE CHAIN. THE SECOND ISSUE, LET ME JUST MENTION, IS COMMUNICATION. AND THERE WAS CLEARLY A COMPLETE BREAKDOWN IN COMMUNICATION. AND I DON'T JUST MEAN IN PEOPLE NOT SPEAKING TO EACH OTHER AND TALKING LIKE THEY SHOULD, BUT THE COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS. THAT CHAIN OF COMMAND, ONCE IT'S BROKEN, YOU'RE NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO HAVE GOOD COMMUNICATION. AND WHAT WE CAME TO REALIZE, PARTICULARLY FROM FEMA, WAS WE COULDN'T GET RELIABLE INFORMATION OUT OF THEM IN A TEN-MINUTE PERIOD.

Yepsen: SOMEONE MENTIONED IN THE INTRO THE IMPACT ON ARKANSAS, THAT YOU'VE TAKEN ABOUT 80,000 EVACUEES. FLUSH THAT OUT A LITTLE BIT. WHAT HAS BEEN THE IMPACT? WHAT'S THE COST OF THIS TO YOUR STATE?

Huckabee: THE COST WILL BE IN THE MILLIONS. BUT, FRANKLY, I'VE TOLD OUR PEOPLE RIGHT NOW THE COST IS THE LEAST THING WE NEED TO WORRY ABOUT. WE NEED TO WORRY ABOUT TREATING THESE FOLKS AS OUR NEIGHBORS, BECAUSE ARKANSAS IS DIRECTLY TO THE NORTH OF LOUSIANA. THEY ARE OUR NEXT-DOOR NEIGHBORS, AS ARE THE PEOPLE OF MISSISSIPPI. AND I SAID THIS IS A TIME WE'RE GOING TO PRACTICE THE GOLDEN RULE. WE'RE GOING TO TREAT THESE FOLKS LIKE WE'D WANT TO BE TREATED IF WE'D BEEN LEFT ON ROOFTOPS WITHOUT FOOD AND WATER. WE'RE GOING TO TREAT THESE FOLKS LIKE WE'D WANT TO BE TREATED. AND EVERY TIME I'D SEE AN ELDERLY LADY GET OFF A C-17 OR A KID GET OFF A BUS, I'D THINK IF THIS WERE MY SIX YEAR OLD, HOW WOULD I WANT HIM TO BE TREATED. IF THIS WERE MY GRANDMOTHER, HOW WOULD I WANT HER TO BE TREATED? AND I TOLD OUR FOLKS, JUST FOLLOW THAT SIMPLE PREMISE, AND YOU'LL DO THE RIGHT THING AND WE'LL WORRY ABOUT SORTING OUT THE COSTS LATER. AND WE WILL. I THINK THE REIMBURSEMENT WILL COME BUT, QUITE FRANKLY, THIS IS ONE OF THOSE MOMENTS WHERE AMERICANS NEED TO ACT LIKE AMERICANS. WE DON'T LEAVE OUR CITIZENS STRANDED. WE DON'T LEAVE THEM OUT THERE WITHOUT FOOD AND WATER. AND SO WHEN WE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY AS A NEXT-DOOR NEIGHBOR STATE TO RECEIVE TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE, WE DIDN'T PUT ROADBLOCKS UP AND SAY YOU CAN'T COME IN HERE, WE'RE NOT GOING TO LET YOU IN OUR SCHOOLS. WHAT WE DID DO WAS WE SET UP A RATHER VAST NETWORK. AND PARTICULARLY -- THIS IS WHAT I'M MOST EXCITED ABOUT -- WE CALLED ON THE FAITH COMMUNITY IN OUR STATE, AND CHURCHES HAVE ACTED LIKE CHURCHES. I'VE NEVER BEEN PROUDER OF THE FAITH COMMUNITY, OF WHICH I'M A PART. BUT I CALLED A GROUP OF PASTORS, DENOMINATIONAL LEADERS, AND CHURCH CAMP OPERATORS TOGETHER AT THE GOVERNOR'S MANSION IN THE MIDST OF THIS, AND I SAID: GUYS, YOUR CAMPING SEASON IS OVER; YOU'VE GOT ALL THESE BEDS OUT THERE, KITCHEN FACILITIES, AND WE NEED THEM; WE'VE GOT THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE THAT ARE GOING TO BE COMING TO OUR STATE; CAN WE USE YOUR FACILITIES; WOULD YOU GET THEM READY FOR US? AND NO ONE TOLD US NO. AND I'LL TELL YOU WHAT HAPPENED. UNLIKE A MASS SHELTER WHERE YOU HAVE TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE HERDED INTO ONE PLACE -- AND I REALIZE YOU HAVE TO DO THAT SOMETIMES IN AN EMERGENCY, BUT YOU CAN'T BUILD A SENSE OF COMMUNITY THERE. YOU CAN PROVIDE BASIC FUNDAMENTAL NEEDS. YOU CAN PROVIDE A SANDWICH OR A COT, MAYBE EVEN A PLACE TO TAKE A SHOWER OCCASIONALLY. BUT WHAT YOU CAN'T GIVE IS INDIVIDUAL ATTENTION, AND YOU CAN'T BE MIKE OR DAVID OR DEAN. YOU'RE GOING TO BE, HEY, ALL OF YOU, IT'S TIME TO EAT. WELL, WHAT I BELIEVED NEEDED TO HAPPEN WAS THAT THESE FOLKS NEEDED MORE THAN A PLACE TO LAY DOWN AND WARMTH AND FOOD. THEY NEEDED A TOUCH OF HUMANITY. THEY HAD BEEN DEPERSONALIZED AND DEHUMANIZED BY THE SUPERDOME AND THE CONVENTION CENTER AND BY SLEEPING OUT ON INTERSTATE HIGHWAYS FOR THREE DAYS. AND WHAT THEY NEEDED WAS WHAT THE FAITH COMMUNITY COULD PROVIDE, WHICH WAS BY MOVING PEOPLE INTO OUR STATE, 26 DIFFERENT CAMPS THAT WE ENLISTED, NOT ONLY WERE WE ABLE TO BRING SMALLER PODS OF PEOPLE, WE ACTUALLY APPOINTED WHAT WE CALLED THE MAYOR. WE CREATED MANY COMMUNITIES. WE HAD A POLICE CHIEF. WE HAD ALMOST A ONE-TO-ONE VOLUNTEER TO EVACUEE RATIO BECAUSE THE PEOPLE FROM THE CHURCHES POURED IN AND THEY LOVED THESE PEOPLE. THEY GAVE THEM ATTENTION AND KINDNESS AND THEY GAVE THEM A SENSE OF -- THEY CALLED THEM BY NAME.

Glover: GOVERNOR, YOU MENTIONED, IN YOUR RESPONSE JUST NOW, PAYING FOR IT. WE'VE GOT A WAR GOING IN IRAQ. WE'VE GOT ONE OF THE HUGEST PUBLIC WORKS PROJECTS IN OUR NATION'S HISTORY FACING US, AND CONGRESS IS TALKING ABOUT CUTTING TAXES? HOW DOES THAT WORK?

Huckabee: I THINK THE KEY RIGHT NOW IS TO PREVENT TAXES FROM GOING UP. I DON'T THINK IT'S REALISTIC TO SAY WE'RE GOING TO GO IN AND SLASH TAXES, BUT WE NEED TO KEEP THEM FROM GOING UP BECAUSE RIGHT NOW A TAX INCREASE, TAXES GOING UP ON TOP OF HIGH FUEL PRICES, IT MIGHT NOT DEVASTATE PEOPLE IN SIX-FIGURE INCOMES. THEY MIGHT NOT BE AFFECTED IN THEIR LIFESTYLES BUT, I'LL TELL YOU, THE PEOPLE MAKING, YOU KNOW, $20,000 AND $30,000 FOR A FAMILY OF FOUR, THEY'RE GOING TO BE HARD HIT.

Borg: BUT, GOVERNOR, MIKE'S QUESTION IS WHERE DOES THE MONEY COME FROM THEN?

Huckabee: WELL, I THINK IT COMES FROM, FIRST OF ALL, A BETTER USE OF WHAT WE ARE DOING. WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO LOOK AT THE PORK PROJECTS THAT WE HAVE AND MAYBE REEVALUATE WHETHER OR NOT THERE HAS TO BE A SHIFTING OF THE REVENUE, PUTTING IT INTO THINGS THAT REALLY REBUILD THE COUNTRY RATHER THAN SIMPLY -- ARE MORE THE -- GOSH, I HATE TO SAY IT BECAUSE I KNOW NOBODY'S POLITICAL PROJECT IN THEIR OWN AREA IS PORK. IT'S A VITAL LOCAL INTEREST. BUT I ALSO BELIEVE THAT THIS COUNTRY IS A COUNTRY THAT, WHEN CALLED UPON, IS WILLING TO MAKE THE KIND OF SACRIFICES NECESSARY TO REBUILD THE GULF COAST.

Yepsen: WHERE -- WHERE IS THE SACRIFICE? I MEAN WE'RE BORROWING MONEY TO FIGHT A WAR. OUR CHILDREN WILL PAY FOR THAT. WE'RE NOW GOING TO BORROW UP TO $200 BILLION TO REBUILD THE GULF COAST. OUR CHILDREN WILL PAY FOR THAT. HOW IS IT THAT ANY OF THE REST OF US ARE SACRIFICING RIGHT NOW?

Huckabee: WELL, I'M NOT SURE THAT A LOT OF US ARE MAKING THE SACRIFICE, BUT I DO THINK THE SACRIFICE HAS TO BE CALLED UPON, NOT ONLY IN A VOLUNTEER SERVICE BUT I THINK THAT WE AREN'T GOING TO BE ABLE TO EXPECT SOME MASSIVE TAX CUT OVER THE NEXT SHORT TERM SIMPLY BECAUSE OF WHAT YOU JUST SAID. REPUBLICANS ARE JUST AS, I THINK, CONCERNED, AT LEAST HISTORICALLY WE ARE, ABOUT HUGE DEFICITS AS WE ARE ABOUT LOW TAXES. AND YOU REALLY DO HAVE TO PUT A BALANCE TO THAT. AND THERE'S SOME FOLKS THAT WANT TO SEPARATE THE TWO, BUT YOU CAN'T. YOU HAVE TO MAKE SURE THAT YOUR REVENUE CAN MEET YOUR OBLIGATIONS. BUT LET ME SAY THIS. IF YOU LOOK AT THE TOTAL AMOUNT THAT WE OWE IN TERMS OF OUR TOTAL GDP, IT'S NOT A COMPLETELY -- IT'S NOT AS OMINOUS AS SOME PEOPLE WANT TO MAKE IT TO BE. I KNOW IT IS A HUGE AMOUNT, STAGGERING. BUT THE KEY TO MAKING SURE THAT IT IS NOT AN UNLIVEABLE AMOUNT IS THAT WE ALSO FUEL THE ECONOMY IN SUCH A WAY, CREATE THE CAPACITY FOR ENTREPRENEURIAL ACTIVITY SO THAT BUSINESSES CAN GROW, IDEA MAKERS CAN FLOURISH, AND THAT WE CAN BE COMPETITIVE IN THE ECONOMY.

Yepsen: YOU DISAGREE WITH PRESIDENT BUSH. HE STILL WANTS TAX CUTS. YOUR CONTENT TO JUST LEAVE IT ALONE FOR RIGHT NOW.

Huckabee: I WOULD NEVER SAY I DISAGREE WITH MY PRESIDENT. THAT WOULD BE UNSEEMLY OF ME, AND I WOULDN'T DO THAT. BUT I DON'T THINK THAT -- I THINK OUR PRIMARY GOAL RIGHT NOW IS TO PREVENT ADDITIONAL TAX INCREASES.

Glover: AND ANOTHER PRESIDENTIAL -- POTENTIAL PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, EXCUSE ME, WILL BE IN THE STATE THIS WEEKEND MAKING THE CASE THAT THE MAIN LESSON TO LEARN FROM KATRINA IS THE EXTENT TO WHICH POVERTY IS GROWING IN AMERICA AND THE EXTENT TO WHICH POVERTY IS CONCENTRATED AMONGST AFRICAN AMERICANS AND OTHER MINORITIES. WHAT'S YOUR RESPONSE TO THAT?

Huckabee: WELL, IT MUST BE A DEMOCRAT BECAUSE IT SEEMS LIKE THEY CAN ALWAYS FIND THE GLASS HALF EMPTY. I LOOK AT IT AS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW THAT WE HAVE SEEN POVERTY. MANY OF US KNEW IT WAS THERE ALREADY. MANY OF US WE GREW UP IN IT, SO IT'S NOT SOMETHING NEW TO US. IT'S NOT LIKE WE HAD A TELEVISION SHOW TO REALIZE THAT IT WAS OUT THERE. I SEE IT AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO WAKE AMERICA UP TO THE POTENTIAL OF CHANGING THE FUTURE FOR PEOPLE WHO MAYBE HAVEN'T HAD THE OPPORTUNITIES OR HAVEN'T REALIZED THEM. SO RATHER THAN SEE IT AS THIS EXPOSURE AND INCREDIBLE WAY OF SHOWING HOW TERRIBLE LIFE IS, I THINK TO SHOW HOW GOOD THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE TO MAKE THE MOST INCREDIBLE AND MOST GENEROUS SACRIFICES THEY'VE EVER MADE IN CHARITY, NOTHING HAS EVER EVEN COME THIS CLOSE IN TERMS OF PEOPLE POURING OUT THEIR HEARTS TOWARD THE FOLKS WHO HAVE BEEN DISPLACED BY KATRINA.

Glover: WELL, WHAT ABOUT THE IMAGE THAT'S BEEN BROADCAST AROUND THE WORLD?

Huckabee: WELL, WE HAVE NO CONTROL OVER THAT, BUT I'LL TELL YOU WHAT WE WILL HAVE CONTROL OVER. WE'LL HAVE REAL CONTROL OVER HOW WE REBUILD THE GULF COAST, AND NOT JUST THE PHYSICAL PROPERTIES OF WHAT DO WE DO FOR THOSE FOLKS. AND I LIKE TO THINK OF WHAT WE'RE DOING IN ARKANSAS TO GIVE PEOPLE HOPE, AS WELL AS HELP, IS THE KIND OF THING WE CAN ALSO SHOW TO THE WORLD. IF ALL THEY WANT TO DO IS SHOW PEOPLE ON ROOFTOPS, AND SAY THIS IS AMERICA, I CAN'T AFFECT THAT. BUT I CAN MAKE SURE THAT WHEN THEY GET TO THE BORDERS OF OUR STATE THAT THEY'RE GOING TO GET -- THEY'RE GOING TO BE TREATED WITH RESPECT AND WITH DIGNITY, AND WE'RE GOING TO GIVE THEM THEIR HOPE BACK.

Yepsen: GOVERNOR, I WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT RACE. THIS EPISODE IN THE SOUTH HAS REALLY EXACERBATED -- MADE OBVIOUS SOME RACIAL DIVIDES AND RACIAL TENSIONS. I'M ALWAYS STRUCK BY THE FACT OF HOW SOUTHERNERS DEAL WITH RACE MUCH MORE UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL THAN THOSE OF US HERE IN THE NORTH. SO WHAT SHOULD THE COUNTRY BE DOING NOW TO HEAL SOME OF THE RACIAL DIVIDES THAT WE'VE SEEN AS A RESULT OF KATRINA?

Huckabee: YOU KNOW, THE REAL RACIAL DIVIDES AREN'T HEALED BY POLITICS; IT'S HEALED BY RELATIONSHIPS. AND WHEN WE TRY TO POLITICIZE RACIAL RELATIONSHIPS, WE ONLY MAKE IT WORSE. WE EXACERBATE THE WOUND. IT'S ABOUT ME CARING ABOUT AN INDIVIDUAL AS A PERSON AND KNOWING PEOPLE. I DID SOMETHING THAT'S PRETTY RARE FOR A REPUBLICAN. I GOT 49 PERCENT OF THE AFRICAN AMERICAN VOTE IN MY STATE WHEN I RAN FOR GOVERNOR. THAT'S NOT TYPICAL FOR REPUBLICANS. PEOPLE SAID, "HOW DID YOU DO THAT?" I SAID, "YOU KNOW, I BUILD RELATIONSHIPS." AND BECAUSE -- YOU KNOW, IF YOU LOOK AT THE APPOINTMENTS, THE INCLUSION, I'VE GOT A BETTER RECORD ON BRINGING MINORITIES AND WOMEN INTO THE CABINET, INTO THE KEY POSITIONS THAN EVEN DEMOCRAT PREDECESSORS OF MINE, INCLUDING BILL CLINTON. BUT YOU DO THAT BECAUSE IT REALLY COMES OUT OF YOUR HEART.

Borg: HAS THIS SET BACK, THOUGH, RACE RELATIONS FOR THE REPUBLICAN PARTY?

Huckabee: I WOULD HOPE NOT. NOT IN MY STATE BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, LET'S FACE IT, MOST OF THE EVACUEES THAT ARE IN MY STATE ARE AFRICAN AMERICAN AND THEY'RE DEMOCRATS. BUT I HAVE LOVED THEM AS IF THEY WERE HARD-CORE REPUBLICANS WITH A BIG CHECKBOOK.

Borg: I WANT TO GO ON TO SOMETHING ELSE HERE. AND YOU'RE CHAIR OF THE NATIONAL GOVERNORS ASSOCIATION. AND YOUR EMPHASIS -- ONE OF YOUR PRIORITIES IS GOING TO BE A CAMPAIGN TO FIGHT OBESITY.

Huckabee: RIGHT.

Borg: HOW ARE YOU GOING TO DO THAT?

Huckabee: WELL, THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IN AMERICA, I BELIEVE, IS IRREVOCABLY BROKEN BECAUSE IT'S BASED ON THE IDEA THAT WE HAVE TO SPEND MORE AND MORE MONEY ON TREATING DISEASE. WHAT WE NEED TO BE DOING IS CHANGING THE PARADIGMS SO WE'RE FOCUSING ON PEOPLE BEING WELL, TAKING GOOD CARE OF THEMSELVES. I'M THE POSTER CHILD FOR WHAT NOT TO DO. I ENDED UP WITH JUST BROKEN DOWN HEALTH FROM MY OWN BAD HABITS: SOUTHERN FRIED FOOD, TOO MUCH OF IT; NO EXERCISE. AND THAT WAS 110 POUNDS AGO. BUT WHEN I REALIZED I COULD CHANGE -- I REALLY COULD -- AND I DIDN'T THINK I COULD, BUT I COULD AND I DID. BUT WHAT IS AN INDIVIDUAL STORY TO ME REALLY IS A STORY WE'VE GOT TO HELP AMERICA TO CHANGE. WE HAVE REALLY REVELED IN OUR EXCESSES, OUR PROSPERITY. WE CAN AFFORD TO EAT OUT, SO WE DO. FORTY-SIX PERCENT OF ALL AMERICAN MEALS ARE EATEN OUTSIDE OF THE HOME.

Borg: SO WHAT'S THE PROGRAM GOING TO BE?

Huckabee: THE PROGRAM IS REALLY PUTTING INCENTIVES SO THAT PEOPLE WILL CHOOSE HEALTHIER BEHAVIORS. FOR EXAMPLE, IN ARKANSAS WE GIVE PEOPLE $20 A MONTH INCENTIVE OFF THEIR HEALTH INSURANCE EVERY MONTH IF THEY DO A HEALTH RISK ASSESSMENT. WE GIVE OUR STATE EMPLOYEES EXERCISE BREAKS INSTEAD OF SMOKING BREAKS. WE ALSO NOW HAVE EFFORTS WHERE WE NO LONGER CHARGE THEM A COPAY OR A DEDUCTIBLE FOR SOME OF THE IMPORTANT MEDICAL SCREENINGS LIKE PROSTATE EXAMS AND MAMMOGRAMS, BECAUSE IT'S IN OUR BEST INTEREST THAT OUR EMPLOYEES ARE HEALTHY. JUST THINGS LIKE THAT.

Yepsen: GOVERNOR, WE'VE HAD WEIGHT PROBLEMS IN AMERICA FOR A LONG TIME. I MEAN DO YOU REALLY THINK INCENTIVES ARE GOING TO WORK AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, HOW COERCIVE SHOULD GOVERNMENT GET IN DEALING WITH THIS PROBLEM? SHOULD WE HAVE A FAT TAX? SHOULD WE REGULATE FOOD MORE?

Huckabee: I KNOW STEVE FORBES USED TO TALK ABOUT THE FLAT TAX. AND I WANT YOU TO KNOW I'M NOT GOING TO BE OUT THERE TALKING ABOUT THE FAT TAX. OKAY? THAT'S NOT MY MESSAGE BECAUSE, FRANKLY, GOVERNMENT CAN'T FORCE PEOPLE INTO BEHAVIORS THEY DON'T WANT TO BEGIN LIVING. PROHIBITION, I THINK, WAS A WONDERFUL PROOF THAT IF YOU TELL PEOPLE WHAT THEY ABSOLUTELY CAN'T DO, THEY WILL SHOW YOU THAT THEY CAN AND IT BECOMES DISASTROUS. NOW, IT'S NOT ABOUT BECOMING THE GREASE POLICE OR THE SUGAR SHERIFFS FOR EVERYBODY AND TELLING THEM WHAT THEY OUGHT TO DO. BUT LOOK, WE CHANGED THE CULTURE OF LITTER IN AMERICA WHEN LADY BIRD JOHNSON WOKE US UP TO THE FACT THAT WE WERE MAKING OUR COUNTRY FILTHY BY OUR LITTER HABITS. FIFTY YEARS AGO PEOPLE ROUTINELY THREW SACKS OF TRASH -- AND I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT JUST NE'ER-DO-WELLS. I'M TALKING ABOUT FOLKS JUST DID IT. THEY DIDN'T THINK THAT MUCH ABOUT IT. NOW WHEN YOU SEE THAT HAPPEN, YOU'RE APPALLED AND WE'VE CHANGED THE CULTURE. WE'VE CHANGED THE CULTURE OF SMOKING. FAR FEWER AMERICANS ARE SMOKING NOW THAN DID A GENERATION AGO, AND THAT NUMBER CONTINUES TO DECLINE BECAUSE WE'VE MADE IT CULTURALLY UNACCEPTABLE. YOU DON'T SEE ASHTRAYS EVEN ON THIS TABLE HERE TONIGHT. FIFTY YEARS AGO YOU WOULD HAVE. AND I WOULDN'T HAVE, BUT MAYBE THE OTHER PEOPLE AROUND THE PANEL WOULD HAVE SMOKED ON THE SET.

Borg: I HAVE TO CALL TIME.

Huckabee: OKAY.

Borg: THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR TAKING TIME TO BE WITH US.

Huckabee: MY PLEASURE. THANKS.

Borg: ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS," BACK TO IOWA POLITICS AND THE 2006 CAMPAIGN FOR GOVERNOR. SIOUX CITY BUSINESSMAN BOB VANDER PLAATS IS ONE OF TWO CANDIDATES SEEKING THE REPUBLICAN NOMINATION. FOUR YEARS AGO VANDER PLAATS TRIED FOR HIS PARTY'S NOMINATION. HE'LL TELL US HOW THIS TIME HE PLANS TO GET THE JOB DONE. REGULAR AIRTIMES NEXT WEEKEND: 7:30 FRIDAY AND SUNDAY AT NOON. I HOPE YOU'LL WATCH. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY. FUNDING FOR "IOWA PRESS" WAS PROVIDED BY "FRIENDS," THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; AND BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS.

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