Any of the leading Republican presidential candidates, with the exception of Ron Paul, would “go further” on Iran than US President Barack Obama, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee said Monday.

Huckabee, making his yearly trip to Israel, said that Mitt Romney, Ron Santorum and Newt Gingrich all understand that the Middle East is “not made safer by dithering.”



Asked by The Jerusalem Post why he assumes the Republicans would be tougher on Iran, when Tehran made significant progress on its nuclear program under eight years of the Bush administration, Huckabee replied, “We are in a different position than we were four years ago.” Huckabee, who has a popular weekly television program on Fox News, and is also a radio talk show host, said he did not “understand why the Obama administration is putting pressure on Israel not to take action” against Iran. He said there should be a clear signal from the US that while it would like to see diplomacy stop Iran’s nuclear march, it would back Israel – or any other country – that decided to take military action to do the job.

Huckabee said he was “concerned” about how Obama would be toward Israel if he won a second term and did not have to face the electorate again.

“This is why I am working diligently” so Obama doesn’t win, Huckabee said. He added that he was also working to ensure a strong pro- Israel Congress that would act as a “backstop” if Obama was re-elected.

Click here for full Jpost coverage of the Iranian threat

Huckabee said he was bothered about the lack of “personal attention” Obama’s pays to Israel. Saying that an Obama visit to Israel was “long overdue,” Huckabee asserted that the value of such a meeting would not just be symbolic, but also a “substantive way to say that Israel is our number one ally in the Middle East.” Huckabee wondered why the Administration’s support for Israel seemed “more tepid” than that of the Democrats in Congress, adding that supporting Israel was one of the few issues Democrat and Republican representatives can agree upon.

Regarding a Palestinian state, Huckabee said that while he was not opposed to the idea, such a state should not be “on top of Israel.” He said Israel had a right to Judea and Samaria, and that before talking about the “where” of a Palestinian state, it was important to talk about “what” it would be, and whether it would recognize the existence of Israel.

Huckabee refrained from criticizing Obama for his handling of the diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians, saying he was going to cut the President “some slack” on that issue since “no other President has been able to sew up that garment.” Huckabee did say, however, that Obama made a tactical error by calling for a complete settlement freeze in the early days of his term. Huckabee advised a completely different approach, saying Israel should tell the Palestinians that if they did not come to the negotiation table, Jerusalem would accelerate building and encourage as much construction in the settlements as possible.

Huckabee, who after John McCain won the second largest amount of delegates in the 2008 Republican primaries, said he would not be endorsing any of the current Republican presidential candidates, and gave any one of them an “even” chance of beating Obama.

Huckabee acknowledged, however, that defeating Obama would be difficult because it was always tough to beat an incumbent, who can use all the trappings on his office to campaign; because Obama will have more money than any other candidate in US history; and because the President is not being “beaten up” in a Democratic primary.

Whoever comes out of the Republican primary will be broke and bleeding and will then face a president “with a billion” dollars and no campaign bruises,” Huckabee said.

He dismissed the likelihood that Ron Paul would run as a third-party candidate, saying that this would hurt his son, Rand Paul, a Republican Senator from Kentucky. Moreover, he said, Ron Paul would then be blamed for Obama’s victory.

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