Mike Huckabee in Jerusalem 390 (R).
(photo credit: Baz Ratner / Reuters)
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
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
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
“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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.