Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – Mike Huckabee is in the running for the Republican nomination for US president in 2016, he announced in Hope, Arkansas, on Tuesday.
The former Arkansas governor and recent host of a popular Fox News Channel program delivered his announcement in the hometown he shares with former president Bill Clinton, with a fiercely conservative speech, speaking on the sanctity of life and against abortion rights; against the Supreme Court’s appraisal of the “natural” definition of marriage; and for a clear definition by the US government of jihadism as an “Islamic” problem.
Huckabee, 59, who ran for president in 2008 and surprised with a commanding win in the country’s first contest – the Iowa caucuses – has not run for or held elected office since.
He repeatedly mentioned Israel, condemning US President Barack Obama’s handling of the relationship with the Jewish state.
“We put more pressure on our ally Israel to cease building bedrooms for their families in Judea and Samaria than we do on Iran for building a bomb,” he said.
Huckabee has repeatedly spoken out in favor of Israeli settlement activity in Judea and Samaria.
If elected, he said, “Israel will know, as will the whole world, that we are their trusted friends.”
He also criticized Obama for telling “Christians” to get off their “high horse” on lecturing Muslims over reform in their religion, referencing remarks made by the president in February, that referred to Christian violence and turmoil during the Crusades.
“I will never apologize for America, ever,” Huckabee said.
Promising to reinvigorate the US-Israel relationship, he continued, “The ayatollahs will know that hell will freeze over before they receive a nuclear weapon.”
In a speech filled with fiery rhetoric, Huckabee also was tough on Islamic State, saying he would change the US approach from attempting to contain the radical group to “conquer” it.
In response to Huckabee’s announcement, the National Jewish Democratic Council said in a statement that a Huckabee presidency would be “disastrous to the American Jewish community.”
“The former governor is remarkably dangerous on LGBT rights, including opposition to protecting the community from discrimination, support of dangerous ‘conversion therapy’ for minors, calls for a federal ban on LGBT adoptions and, of course, opposition to marriage equality so extreme that he recently called on states to ignore a potential ruling by the US Supreme Court,” the council said in a statement.
“Huckabee also has a long history of comparing any number of issues to the Holocaust, including marriage equality, reproductive rights, the removal of terminally ill people from life support and economic debt – none of which, it should be noted, involve genocide and the military subjugation of numerous countries.
“American Jewish voters – who have repeatedly and overwhelmingly embraced progressive values – do not have a friend in Gov. Huckabee,” it said.
A former Baptist pastor and unabashed culture warrior, Huckabee entered the Republican field facing competition for the support of social conservatives who backed him in 2008.
He is the third Republican to enter the race this week, joining Dr. Ben Carson and former executive Carly Fiorina.Reuters contributed to this report.