Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR/FL)
Iowa Freedom Summit
Hoyt-Sherman Place
Des Moines, Iowa
January 24, 2015

Thank you.  Considering how long you have been here today, I'm just glad when you sit up you  sat back down because I was really worried about that.  I think of the Bible scripture that comes to mind for all of you who have been here since early this morning.  They that endure to the end shall be saved. 

What a nice thing to be talking to a room full of saints today.  I'm so grateful that you stayed because I've heard me speak, and I wouldn't have stayed and I'm just really delighted.  So thank you so much.

Now originally when this was all being set up and I accepted the invitation, I was really worried that I was going to have a hard time getting here, so that's why they put me last.  And the reason being is because when this was set up, I was still doing a television show for FOX News in New York, and I was going to tape it and hurry here.  Maybe you know, but three weeks ago was my last show on the Fox News Channel and I left that.  A lot of people are wondering, well why would he do that?  And I'll leave it to your imagination, but it wasn't just so I could go deer hunting every Saturday, I can assure you of that.

Six and a half years working at the Fox News Channel was an extraordinary experience.  I'll tell you what it was a phenomenal opportunity to work with some of the greatest professionals, and more than just people who are technically good at what they did, but people who had an extraordinary esprit du corps.  I find it funny when people come up to me and they'll look around and say okay, now you're not there, just really what was it like?  Tell us what it was really like.  So I'll look around and I'll say, let me tell you what it was really like.  It was the best six and a half years of working with some of the greatest people on Earth, and I'll say it in a whisper and say it out loud.  I'm so grateful for the experience. 

And one of the reasons that I was grateful was for the extraordinary privilege I had of working for one of the greatest minds in America, Roger Ailes.  And Roger is the guy who conceived the Fox News Channel and still runs it, brilliantly.  I've told people here's a couple things about Roger Ailes you need to know.  Number one he's the smartest guy in the room and it doesn't matter who else is in the room.  And number two, he has a wonderful philosophy that has created the atmosphere that you may think you understand, but I can tell you from the inside, it's an extraordinary and unique environment in the media world in that people really do get along.  There is an extraordinary sense of family. 

And let me tell you how he views it.  He has a statement that he says, we don't pee inside our own tent.   Now to be honest, Roger says it little more graphically than that.  So for those of you who are shocked by what I just said, I assure you you would have been more so if I'd had told you exactly the way he says it.  But the point is well taken.  You cannot create a successful organization of any kind if you spend your time taking a grenade, pulling the pin, tossing it under the chair of the people in your own tent. 

And one of the things I'm committed to is that we don't spend the next two years beating each other up in the conservative tent; we need to tell America what's right with this country.  And if we'll talk about what's good about America, we'll have plenty, plenty of things to talk about. 

But governing America isn't always easy.  It's been said--and I'm sure you have heard--there are two things you should never see.  You should never see a law or a sausage made.  I have seen both, and I still eat sausage.  But I can attest to the fact that neither are very pretty.  And in the case of a sausage, you in Iowa get this in a way nobody else in America does.  But if you're going to have some sausage, you've got to kill some pigs.  And folks there are a lot of people in America who want the sausages, they don't want to kill any pigs.  We need to do some pig-killing to get to the sausage. 

For ten and a half years I governed in the state that was the bluest most lopsided legislative state in all of America, more than Vermont or Maine or Massachusetts or California or Oregon.  89 out of the 100 House members were Democrats and 31 out of 35 Senators were Democrats--90-percent.  Ninety-percent.  I did not walk into the Capitol every day with them saying, "oh, bravo."  Some governors may walk into their chamber and hear "hosanna."  I walked in and heard "crucify him."

Arkansas's new governor, Asa Hutchison, who will be a terrific governor, was inaugurated just a couple of weeks ago.  I went back for the inauguration; it was wonderful to see.  Now all seven constitutional officers are all Republican; there were none when I was there except me.  Of the six members of the congressional delegation, when I was there was only one; now all six of the congressional delegate--both Senators, all four Congressmen--are Republican.  There is a Republican majority, supermajority in both the House and the Senate now in that state.  And I watched him walk down the aisle and he was getting all the acocolades from legislators.  And I turned to somebody and said, you know the difference is he's shaking hands with people who actually voted for him. 

I think America is coming around to the understanding that the views, values that we put forth as Republicans, as conservatives are values that they can embrace, and actually make a difference for their families. 

Now this past week the president in his State of the Union address--for those of you who were unable to stay awake as Ruth Bader Ginsburg found--made a comment that jolted me from my near-stupor, when he said, the greatest threat that this nation faces, and I waited.  And then he said, is climate change.  Not to diminish anything about the climate at all, but Mr. President, I believe that most of us would think that a beheading is a far greater threat to an American that a sunburn.  I wish he understood that we have a real enemy with Islamic jihadism. 

Let's make clear.  Nobody wants war.  Nobody who wants to be president would want to be a war president if at all possible to avoid it.  But I am convinced that if we want to avoid war, the best way to do it is to make the enemy afraid to start one.   And the best way is to remember that nobody wants to pick a fight if they think you're going to knock them on their butt.  That's the best way to stop the war.  I'm not talking about waving guns around at people, but when someone's life and liberty is threatened then it's time to, in the words that I would say, it's time to go merle on them 'cause they done gone on the fighting side of me.  And at that point we don't call 91-1 ou of fear but rather to call and tell them where to come and pick up the body.

But my friends we cannot defeat the enemy, Islamic jihadism, and if we don't identify it and if we don't call it what it is.  It is evil; it is not merely an aberration of geopolitical thought.  These are not people who want a piece of land, these are not people who want to be higher in the pecking order in the great international family.  These are people who fundamentally believe that you should never be able to draw another breath, and they are committed to the notion that you won't, and that they will bury you and your children and your grandchildren.  And the fact is, if our president and this administration cannot identify the clear and present danger and cannot see the difference between the good and evil in this world, I am convinced they're like people and this is so unbelievable that they could watch a 1950s Western and not be able to tell you at the end of it who the good guys and the bad guys really were.

You're going to hear a lot over the next couple of years from the liberals.  They are going to tell you that the greatest challenge facing American workers and American families is income inequality.  Well folks, sometimes I think the greatest challenge we face economically is intelligence inequality because we will never be able to build a strong economy when we punish productivity and reward reckless irresponsibility.  You don't build an economy when you tell people who work, ah, it's okay to work but don't work to hard, don't work too much, because we'll hurt you. 

The real fallacy of Obamacare is that for the first time in American history we have people who run businesses and who own businesses and want to start businesses whose goal is not to see how big they can grow it, but to make sure they can keep it small because they wnat to make sure employees don't work more than 29 hours a week and that their employee load doesn't get up over 50.  Think about how ridiculous it is to say stay small. That means don't hire, don't bring more people into the workplace, don't expand the inventory, don't put more stuff on the shelf, and that means fewer people actually have jobs.

The unemployment rate gets touted because it's less that it was.  But here's a fact.  A lot of people who used to have one good paying full-time job with benefits, now have to work two part-time jobs.  When the president says 11 million jobs were created, most of them are jobs that pay less than the jobs that people used to have.  That is not economic advancement my friends. 

Congressman King mentioned that I am an advocate of the FAIR Tax.  Let me explain why.  Because not only is it a tax that is fair, finite and family-friendly and also flat, but it is the only plan, a thorough, comprehensive, well-researched plan, that does something that more than ever I think we must do to save our great Republic, and that is get rid of the Internal Revenue Service.  End the IRS. 

This week the president said that his proposal: start taxing people who save for their kids' education in a 529 plan.  I'm scratching my head and I'm thinking well that's crazy.  And then he took it to a new level of insanity when he said, well while we're going to tax those people who have responsibly saved so their kids and grandkids could go to college, I want to give free college to everybody.  Does anybody else get the disconnect here?  So the idea is we're going to redistribute somebody else's money and punish people who didn't get a boat or a vacation home because they put that money in a savings account for their grandkids or their kids to go to college, all the time saying because we want more people to go to college.  So we're going punish the people who are trying to make sure their grandkids can go to college. 

And when the Democrats and the liberals talk about the minimum wage, I just have to say why  on God's Earth would you ever propose that people in American who work really hard and sweat through their clothes and lift heavy things would best have a wage that would be called minimum.  Why aren't we talking about how to get people not to a new minimum wage, but to a maximum wage?  A maximum wage.

And here's how this works.  When somebody says well we need to get the minimum wage up to $10, the CBO says that will cost half a million jobs, but let's suppose even for a moment that it's not the worst thing that happens.  Can anybody live on $10 an hour?  No.  So what can you live on?  And When people ask me, do you support the minimum wage, I say I support something much better than that; I support the maximum wage.  And here's how it works.  I ask a person how much money would you like to make per hour.  You'd like to make $10; we can make that easy.  But what about 20, 30, 40, 50 dollars an hour.  Yeah, I'd love to make that.  I said okay, then let's find out what jobs pay $50 an hour and then let's get you trained to take one of those jobs and instead of a minimum wage you will be making a maximum wage.  And my friends we need to be talking about how to get people to reach for the stars rather than to dive for the floor. 
That's how America gets strong again.

If we really want to make some sausage, one of the critical things is to redistribute the power, because our founders never intended that so much power would be centralized in Washington with the federal government.  I don't hear many people saying this, because most people once they get there they kind of like it; they want to stay.  Washington, DC has become the roach motel.  People go in.  They never come out.  So one way to get them out is to do something that the founders almost did, but you know what, they kind of said it'll never be a problem.  People don't want to come here and stay forever.  George Washington would have been given the opportunity to be president for life.  He said no, I'll serve two terms, I'll go back to Virginia and farm.  And he did.  But it's time.  It may not come from the members of Congress; it may have to come from the people.  But it's high time we take the the leadership in this country and we say that if we have term limits for the executive branch we need term limits for the legislative branch and that you can't stay for the rest of your life and make Congress a career.  You will go, you will serve, and then you will get to come back home and live under the laws that you passed for the rest of us.  Welcome to America.

And by the way, I think we ought to have--and I know this will be controversial to some, but I will stand and tell you why it will work.  We need limits not only for the executive and legislative, we need term limits for the judicial branch because nobody ought to wear a black robe for the rest of his or her life and believe that he or she is unaccountable for the decisions that are being made.  And let me say thank God for Iowa because when you had some judges that thought that they could ignore you, you sent them home and that was a wonderful message. 

But we need to devolve the power that exists in one place to move it to where the Constitution intended for it to be and that's to the states.  It's very clear.  The founders not onlly established it in the original Constitution, they were so afraid that somebody would mess it up that they added it as the 10th Amendment and said that if there's not a power that is expressly written into the Constitution, that power resides with the states. 

So pray tell, why is the federal government getting involved in an issue where there is no mention whatsoever in the Constitution, education?  There is no federal role in education.  And instead of Common Core, we need to apply some common sense and a good dose of constitutional law and end it.

And I know that some of you have heard well Mike Huckabee supports Common Core.  Folks what Common Core may have originally been, which was a governor controlled and a states initiative to keep the fickle federal fingers of fate off of education, it has morphed into a frankenstandard that nobody including me can support, and I want to make it clear, because anybody who tells you that I support Common Core is either incredibly less informed than he or she pretends to be or is being plain dishonest because they really want to help somebody else and not me.  And that's okay, but for heaven sakes be honest because I've written it a hundred times, I've said it on TV, I'm saying it to you.  Education is not a federal function; it is a local function.  But let's get how local it is.  Ultimately it ought to be the decision of mom and dad and not the government, and it's your choice whether you want to homeschool, send to the government schools or private school. 

And I cannot say strongly enough that we need to return to that simple understanding that the Constitution frames for us the process of our government.

Now I've gotten in a little trouble this week, not that it's the first time, and I'm darn sure it won't be the last time, because I've said that the fact that one branch of government doesn't usurp the other two.  Ninth grade civics for those of you who took it.  Obviously many of the people who are running our country did not.  But remember that simple understanding that there are three branches of government and all them are equal.  One doesn't get to override the other.  How many of you have been unhappy when the president says I got a phone and a pen?  Well, Mr. President, I have a Constitution, and it here's what it says: you can't act independently and just create law with your phone and your pen. 

It's tough work, it's sausage making, Mr. President, but you've to go over to the legislature and persuade enough people there to get the votes to pass a law that you can sign and enforce and the courts then will tell you if that law does in fact conform to the Constitution. 

And if it comes out that the courts decide that there's some law that doesn't conform to the Constitution, according to their interpretation, then it doesn't immediately become quote the law of the land for the simple reason that the Court cannot make a law.  They are the Supreme Court, not the supreme being.  And that means they're the highest court, but they have to work in concert with the legislative and executive branches.  That shouldn't be hard.

If you think I am pessimistic about America, I am not.  I am optimistic.  And part of it is because what I see happening in this room here today.  Hundreds of people gathering to hear speaker after speaker all day long and still having enough energy to put two hands together and occasionally clap.  I find it amazing.  But I'll tell you what amazes me even more is the dedication that some of our fellow Americans have to protect and preserve our freedom. 

Last week my wife and I were in the Atlanta Airport.  We were sitting down having a little bowl of soup between airplanes.  And a gentleman came up and knelt down beside our table and looked at me; he had a very earnest look.  And he said Gov. Huckabee I want to come meet you; I want to thank you.  He said, I'm a soldier.  I'm a Green Beret.  And he said, a lot of my friends appreciate you standing up for us and speaking out for us.
And I listened to him and I said, young man you don't understand.  You shouldn't be thanking me.  I'm thanking you.  Every breath, every breath of free air I enjoy is because of folks like you who  put on the uniform of this country and dodge bullets and bombs.  I haven't done anything.  You're the one.  I talk on television.  It's not that hard.  I've run for office.  That's kind of hard.  I've governed.  That is really hard.  I've talked about these things on TV; that ain't hard.

But let me tell you something.  What the men and women in uniform in this country do every single day, what they do is not just hard.  What they do is the impossible.  And if we owe anyone in this country our profound thanks, it ain't some guy like me or any of the others, of the twenty-something that came on this stage.  While I appreciate the applause and I love the accolades, believe me I'd rather hear that than boos, I want to tell you something.  We need to all remember that the real American heroes are not politicians.  They're are the soldiers, the sailors, the Marines, the members of the Coast Guard, the members of the Air Force, who keep us free and keep this country the greatest land on God's green Earth.  Thank you and God Bless you.  Honor to be with you tonight.


Transcript © 2015 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.