Live Blog of VP Debate

October 2, 2008

I will blogging about the VP debate live this evening! Hit f5 regularly to see what a person from Main Street America thinks about the VP debate.

Palin vs. Biden

Question 1-Bail-out, worst or best of Washington?

Biden-last 8 years of economic policies are a failure. Obama’s four criteria for rescue: oversight, focus on homeowners, no CEO benefits. Fundamentally change focus of economic policy by focusing on middle class.

Palin- Ask everyday American’s how they feel about the economy; fear, the economy is hurting. Government has not provided good enough oversight. John McCain has a history of providing oversight. McCain’s suspension of campaign was a good thing.

Question 2- How shrink gap of polarization?

Biden- Lists accomplishments, has as many Rep. friends and Dems. Goes after McCain for fundamentals of economy statement.

Palin- McCain was referring to the American workforce. They are the best in the world. Stresses track record of reform known for putting politics aside to get the job done. Obama has mostly voted along party line. Send Maverick of the Senate to the Whitehouse.

Question 3- Subprime lending melt-down, who’s at fault?

Palin- The fault of predator lenders who mislead Americans. Need to stop the greed and corruption on Wall Street. Every day Americans need to band together and say they will never be taken advantage of again and demand strict oversight. Americans need to avoid getting themselves in debt.

Biden- Obama warned about this 2 years ago, and McCain said he was for cutting regulations. McCain supports traditional Republican stance of deregulation. Middle class needs relief.

Palin- Tax relief needed for Americans. Obama and Biden voted for largest tax increases in US history. They voted for tax increases 94 times. Government needs to learn to be more efficient and make do with less. Obama supported tax increases for families making as little as $42,000/year.

Biden- Obama did not vote to raise taxes, McCain voted 477 times to raise taxes. Says Palin did not answer the question on dereg.

Palin- Stresses record on cutting taxes as Mayor and Governor.

Question 4- Obama proposed raising taxes on people making over $250,000

Biden- Fairness. Middle class is struggling. No one making less than $250,000 will see their taxes raised. 95% of people will get a tax break. Economic engine of America is the middle class. McCain wants 300 billion in tax cuts for the wealthy.

Palin- Says small business owners fall into the $250,000/ year category. Goes after him for suggesting paying higher taxes is patriotic. Government is not the solution, often it is the problem. Let the private sector have more freedom.

Question 5- Defend McCain’s healthcare plan

Palin- $5000 credit for families to purchase their own coverage rather than government run the program. McCain wants to allow competition between state.

Biden- It is not a redistribution of wealth, it is fairness. 95% of small businesses make less than $250,000/year and would not see tax increase. McCain taxes as income the healthcare plans of employers. 20 million people will be dropped from insurance.

Question 6- What promises will the campaign not have to keep in light of the economy?

Biden- No more double foreign assistance. No going forward with McCain’s tax cuts. Can’t slow up on education. Can’t slow up on providing healthcare for Americans. They will eliminate wasteful spending in the budget.

Palin- Energy plan: Obama voted for one the gave big oil tax breaks. Palin had to take them on in Alaska. CEO’s of oil are not her biggest fans. She put the people of Alaska first. Says she personally hasn’t promised anything to take off the table.

Biden- Obama voted for bill because it had support for alternative energy. He voted against big oil in other bills. They want to give Americans back $1000 like Palin has done in Alaska.

Question 7- Congress passes bill for making it harder for mortgage holders to declare bankruptcy, support?

Palin- Yes, again points out McCain’s calls for reform. Put politics aside to fix the problem. Need to make sure that credit markets don’t seize up.

Biden- Mortgage holders did not pay the price. Obama pointed out 2 years ago that there is a subprime crises. McCain said he was surprised by the crisis. Banks should be able to adjust the principle that you owe, not just the interest.

Palin- Talks about enery again. Says it is nuts not to allow Alaska to tap into its energy reserves. It would created tens of thousands of jobs. Energy independence is the key to this nations future. It’s not about tax breaks.

Question- Climate change?

Palin- Climate change is real, but it is not all caused by man. Cyclical changes of the planet. Encourage other nations to come along on climate change. Reduce emissions. Relying on other countries pollutes more than America would ever stand for.

Biden- It is man made. He knows what the cause is. McCain has voted against funding alternative energy. Obama believes in clean energy (coal, nuclear). Export clean coal tech.

Palin- McCain supports cap on carbon emissions. Obama/Biden say no to finding domestic solution to energy crisis. McCain also supports clean coal and nukes.

Biden- The answer is not oil for everything.

Question- Do you support same-sex benefits?

Biden- Absolutely. There will be no distinction between same-sex and heterosexual marriages. It’s only fair. The Constitution calls for it.

Palin- Does not want to redefine traditional definition of marriage. Says she would be tolerant of Americans choices. Defines as marriage as between one man and one woman.

Biden- Does not support gay marriage.

Question- Exit strategy from Iraq?

Palin- We have good plan. The surge has worked and was pushed for by McCain. Obama did not support the surge. Obama voted against funding troops in Iraq. We do not need early withdrawal in Iraq. We can continue draw down in Iraq and send more to Afganistan.

Biden- Obama’s plan is to shfit responsibility to Iraqi’s and draw down troops. McCain voted the same way on not funding troops because it had a timeline. Obama says there has to be a timeline. Time for Iraq to spend its own money. There is not end to war for McCain.

Palin- Obama plan is a white flag of surrender. They opposed the surge. We will be finished in Iraq when the government can govern and military and handle security. Biden said Obama not ready to Commander  and Chief.

Biden- McCain voted to cut off funding because of timeline. McCain has been wrong on the issues of war, Obama has been right.

Question- Nuclear Iran or unstable Pakistan, which is greater threat?

Biden- Pakistan already has nukes. Iran getting one would bad. McCain says central front of terror war is in Iraq, but it is in Pakistan. We will get Bin Laden.

Palin- Gen. Petraeus said Iraq was the central front in the war on terror. Iran cannot be allowed to acquire nukes. Israel would be in jeopardy. Obama would sit down with dangerous dictators without precondition.

Question- sec. of states say we should be engaged in diplomacy? Do you agree?

Palin- Yes, but we can’t engage at a presidential level. We will engage in diplomacy and have a plan in place.

Biden- Theocracy controls Iran. We need to go the extra mile in diplomacy to get our allies to sit with us. Goes after McCain for saying he would not sit down with Spain.

Question- Two state solution on Israel?

Palin- Yes, and would at the top of a McCain agenda. Need to assure Israel that there will be no 2nd holocaust. They will build and embassy in Jerusalem. Israel has track record of achieving peace agreements.

Biden- Biggest friend of Israel. Obama shares his passion. Bush policy on Israel is a failure. Iran has a stake in Lebanon and in Gaza.

Palin- No administration’s policy has been a failure. The administration has made mistakes. Obama and Biden keep looking back and not to the future.

Biden- The past is a prologue. McCain’s policy will not be different than Bush’s poicy. We will change policy.

Question- Use of nukes?

Palin- Ours are deterrents. Do not allow rogue leaders to get or proliferate nukes. McCain would have different strategy on Afghanistan. Institute an Iraq-like surge.

Biden- Gen. said surge will not work in Afghanistan. Spend more money in three weeks in Iraq than seven years in afghanistan. McCain voted against nuclear test ban treaty.

Palin- Gen. did not say surge principles would not work in Afghanistan. Afghan leaders have not said the surge would not work.

Biden- Gen. did say that.

Question- Intervention with military? Will Americna public go for it?

Biden- yes, troops in Bosnia saved lives. It is now relatively stable. Said going in Iraq would be a mistake. Voted for giving pres. power, but not to invade. Lead NATO into Darfur and impose no-fly zone.

Palin- Biden voted for the war before not supporting it. Biden supported McCain’s strategies before joining Obama ticket. Palin agrees with Biden on Darfur. As Gov. she divested money in Sudan.

Biden- We have to have the capacity before we go in. Never supported McCain’s strategy.

Palin- Again, Biden did support McCain before joining the ticket. McCain knows how to win a war because he has been there. He knows to learn from mistakes and listen to commanders on the ground.

Question- How would VP admin be different than top of ticket?

Biden- carry out Obama’s policy of supporting the middle class, energy policy, foreign policy, reject Bush doctrine of regime change. This is most important election since 1932.

Palin- A team of mavericks does not agree 100% on everything (ANWR drilling). She would put government back on the side of the people. Bring main street reality back to Washington.

Biden- People say they are worse off under Bush. People see McCain as another Bush. The middle class has gotten the short end.

Palin- Need to increase education funding. Can no longer accept poor schools. Put more emphasis on profession of teaching.

Question- What does VP do?

Palin- Preside over senate. Supportive of president’s policies. She would lead on energy independence and overall reform of government according to McCain.

Biden- Point person for legislation. Will advise Obama on decisions. Was chosen for independent judgment.

Palin- Will do what is best for the American people in ushering in the President’s agenda, appropriately.

Biden- Cheney has been the most dangerous VP in American history. The primary role of VP is to support the POTUS. VP only steps in during tie votes in senate.

Question- Achilee’s heal?

Palin- She has the experience in her past to lead. Shares her worldview with John McCain.

Biden- Lack of discipline, excessive passion. He will not change. Will put his and Obama’s record up against his competitors. Understands the plight of Americans from his experiences (ie single parent).

Palin- People are not looking for more of the same. Willing to put partisanship aside. McCain’s supporters illustrate his appeal across the aisle.

Biden- McCain has not been a maverick on the things that matter (budget, healthcare, education)

Final question- Single policy issue where forced to change a long held view?

Biden- Ideology of judges does make a difference

Palin- There were budgets that she maybe should have vetoed and wanted to cut taxes. She has not had to compromise on any major positions because they have able to work together in Alaska.

Question- How do you change the tone?

Biden- I have been able to work across the aisle. Does not question motives of fellow senators.

Palin- Appoint people regardless of party affiliation as she did during her tenure. People will have a choice come Nov. 4th.

Closing statements-

Palin- Wants to speak without the filter of mainstream media, likes the debate format because she can address America directly. We have to fight for freedom.

Biden- Most important election in your entire life. There is a need for fundamental change. It’s time for America to get up from being knocked down.

Personal note-

Thanks to everyone for reading this evening. I will try to post my thoughts on the debate tomorrow. Thanks again!


Huckabee Concedes, Gracefully

March 4, 2008

This was a tough day for me. I knew when I woke up this morning that Huckabee’s chances were slim, but I held out hope for a miracle. Unfortunately, the miracle did not happen. Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, conceded the race to John McCain a few moments ago.

I listened to his concession speech and I was again struck with the humility the man has. Mike Huckabee understood that it was not the support of the Republican establishment, gobs of money, and the backing of the talking heads that got him to March 4, 2008. His speech was basically a long thank you to his supporters and family. The speech was the most graceful and heartfelt concession speech I have ever heard and he deserves credit for the way he conducted himself.

I must confess that as I watched the speech I could not help but feel some anger at the Republican establishment. They decided that John McCain would be the nominee and then pushed him upon the American people as the only choice. McCain is guilty of accepting that support and refusing to acknowledge that Americans did have a choice in his refusal to debate Huckabee. Sure, it might have been a smart political move for McCain not to debate, but it was not the right choice. The Republican establishment decided long ago that Huckabee would never be the nominee and they succeeded in shutting him out.

Personally, I am very grateful for Mike Huckabee. I had never before contributed to a political campaign. I had never before attended political rallies. Mike Huckabee motivated me to be more involved in this election than I ever have before. He was pro-life and pro-family. He supported my 2nd Amendment rights. He had an immigration plan that made sense. He supported strengthening and building up the military. He supported a complete overhaul of the tax system through the FairTax. He had the freshest ideas and the best approach to the Presidency of any of the candidates.

Today the American people decided that John McCain was the best man for the job. I strongly disagree.

Where does this leave me? I will probably mope around for a few days. I guarantee I will be a lot more apathetic about this election because of John McCain’s liberal tendencies. It leaves me right back where I was after the election in ’06: wishing for a third party that was not so steeped in the political system that it actually cared about doing what is best for the people of America and not just doing what is best for the Republican establishment.

The moping will now commence.

Duncan Hunter Endorses Mike Huckabee

January 23, 2008

Duncan Hunter announced today that he was going to endorse Mike Huckabee for President of the United States. The endorsement comes at a critical time for the Huckabee campaign as they tighten the purse strings and batten down the hatches for the rapidly approaching Super Tuesday primaries.

The endorsement has/will undoubtedly cause a stir among the conservative talking heads who have been quick to criticize Huckabee on everything from his tax record to his supposed lack of foreign policy experience. Hunter was one of the most conservative candidates in the field when he was running. Two of the things that he touted while campaigning were his tough stance on illegal immigration and his foreign policy credentials from his experiences on House Armed Services Committee. His decision to endorse Huckabee will allow the governor to shore up his platform in those two areas that have often been perceived as two of his weaknesses.

Huckabee has had a relatively quiet week as the focus has shifted from him to Rudy, Romney, and McCain and the race in Florida. The endorsement from Hunter and the debate tomorrow night give Huckabee the opportunity to turn the negative momentum of the last couple of weeks into positive momentum that can carry him into Super Tuesday.

After the disappointing finish in South Carolina, many felt that Huckabee was finished. Indeed, the polls after the SC primary showed him losing votes. There was a sense of dismay among many supporters. However, as soon as this endorsement was announced, the mood immediately changed. It appears that Huckabee supporters are once again ready to do battle to carry their candidate to victory.

Following is the announcement of the endorsement from CNN:

January 23, 2008

Posted: 03:15 PM ET
The conservative congressman is backing Huckabee.

The conservative congressman is backing Huckabee.

WASHINGTON (CNN) — California Rep. Duncan Hunter, a former presidential candidate, announced Wednesday he is endorsing Mike Huckabee’s White House bid.

“I got to know Governor Huckabee well on the campaign trail,” Huckabee said in a statement. “Of the remaining candidates I feel that he is strongly committed to strengthening national defense, constructing the border fence and meeting the challenge of China’s emergence as a military superpower that is taking large portions of America’s industrial base.

“Along with these issues of national security, border enforcement and protecting the U.S. industrial base, I see another quality of Mike Huckabee’s candidacy that compels my endorsement,” he added. “Mike Huckabee is a man of outstanding character and integrity. I saw that character over the last year of campaigning and was greatly impressed. The other Republican candidates have many strengths and I wish them all well.”


Huckabee Responds to Pastore

January 17, 2008

This is too important to not post in its entirety. Mike Huckabee has been under fire of late because of a lack of a foreign policy plan and foreign policy experience, immigration,  federalism, and taxes. In his response to an open letter by Frank Pastore of, he answers those questions in a way that should give him some traction going into the South Carolina primary this weekend.

Here is a link to the article.

Full text follows:

Governor Huckabee Responds to Frank Pastore’s “Dear Huck” Letter
By Mike Huckabee
Thursday, January 17, 2008

On January 14, Frank Pastore wrote an open letter Mike Huckabee Titled: “Dear Huck: You’ve Won Our Hearts, Now Win Our Minds Too.” Below are Pastore’s Original Questions with the Response from the Huckabee campaign.

Frank Pastore: 1. You’re accused of advancing “liberal economic policies” because you raised taxes in Arkansas. If elected, what do you want to increase social spending on and why? Most conservatives don’t define “limited government” in terms of “no government.” We want government to help those who truly need it. We want to help the single mom down the street that’s struggling. Unlike Democrats, we don’t measure the success of social programs by how much we spend on them, but by whether the people we claim to be helping actually get helped.

We want “limited government” in opposition to “unlimited government.” We believe we’re already spending too much on too many programs, and we’d rather spend more wisely what we’re already spending than simply default to spending more. We don’t want “bigger government,” we want “smarter government.” We understand a “let’s cut spending” message can’t win a general election, but a “responsible spending” message can. How do you suggest we do this?

Governor Mike Huckabee: First, I am a fiscal conservative. I have signed Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform “no tax” pledge. When I was Governor of Arkansas, I cut taxes 94 times, including the largest broad-based tax cut in the history of my state. I doubled the standard deduction and the child care credit, eliminated the marriage penalty, indexed tax brackets to prevent bracket creep, reduced the capital gains tax for both businesses and individuals, and eliminated the capital gains tax on the sale of a home. I reduced welfare rolls by almost 50 percent.

When I left office, the tax rates remained exactly the same as when I began almost 11 years earlier: the tax rate was 1 percent for the poorest taxpayers and 7 percent for the richest. Having inherited a $200 million budget shortfall from my Democrat predecessor, I left office with an $844 million surplus, letting my successor follow my lead to get the sales tax on food eliminated.

I share your goal of wanting to help those who truly need it. I will undertake a top-to-bottom review of all programs to eliminate waste and duplication. Right now there are many different programs dealing with things like hunger and job training. I will consolidate and streamline to get the most out of every tax dollar. I will reduce the federal work force by not replacing many of the baby boomers who will be retiring.

I will fight against pork and fight for a line-item veto that passes constitutional muster. I will also look for ways to accomplish our goals through block grants to the states. Governors at the state level are the ones who know their people and their needs better than the federal government and, since they have to balance their budgets, know how to get the most out of a dollar. We also need to measure performance and demand better accountability. We have to stop throwing money at problems without following up to ensure that they are actually achieving solutions. I will insist that programs and the people running them justify their existence. I will never just assume that because a program was funded last year, it should be funded next year.

While we have great needs, the federal government also has great resources provided by the sweat of the brows of all our taxpayers. They are entitled to a solid return on their investment. I will never forget where the money comes from and will demand of Congress and all my executive departments that we be the best stewards that we can possibly be of those hard-earned funds.

Pastore: 2. Your “Fair Tax” proposal is interesting, but you must know it has zero chance of getting through Congress in the coming decade, even if you should win reelection. We appreciate you raising the issue, and we’re all frustrated with the Tax Code, and we all hate the IRS. But, Congressional Democrats won’t ever let us eliminate an entire federal department like the IRS or the Department of Education. It will take decades to make a serious run at something like that. So, what are some more modest improvements you suggest for improving our existing tax system over the next four years?

Huckabee: First, I strongly disagree with the premise that the FairTax can’t be passed. It will be a challenge, but undertaking those challenges is what leadership is about. The FairTax already has a tremendous amount of support and enthusiasm around the country and in Congress. People agree that our tax system is broken and needs radical, fundamental change. As president, I would be a Communicator in Chief who would do a great job explaining the FairTax to the American people and getting them to light up the congressional switchboard until Washington gets the message. It’s our long-term solution, it can be done, and we will do it.

As a pathway to the FairTax, there are several steps we can take. I would make the Bush tax cuts permanent and fix the alternative minimum tax once and for all. I would expand upon the Bush marginal rate reductions, capital gains rate reductions, and dividend rate reductions. I would reduce the marginal corporate tax rate.

I would eliminate the death tax.

I would make all tuition deductible, because I believe that education is an investment in human capital and should be treated at least as favorably as a business is treated when making a capital equipment purchase. Our best means of remaining competitive in the ever-expanding global marketplace is a well-educated American workforce. Education not only improves our national well-being, but is also the path to personal upward mobility.

I would provide a maximum 15.3 percent tax credit for tuition expenditures, tied to employment income and carried forward indefinitely. This replicates the effects of the FairTax by allowing workers to offset their payroll taxes with their tuition costs. The 15.3 percent cap equals the payroll taxes the family paid for the year.

We also need to consider increasing the IRA deduction limit. We should consider increasing small business and manufacturers expensing allowances. I would also investigate providing tax credits for healthcare. So there are short-term steps we can take on the path to the FairTax.

Pastore: 3. You’re accused of opposing vouchers, yet you have the endorsement of the National Education Association for your work in Arkansas, and you have the overwhelming support of home schoolers. This is an odd mix. What is your position on school choice, vouchers, charter schools, etc.?

I have the support of home schoolers because I was an ardent champion of their cause when I was governor. I appointed the first home school parent anywhere in the country to our State Board of Education.

My overriding concern is that every child in America has the opportunity to get a first-rate education—I am much less concerned with the means than with the end. I support school choice, vouchers and charter schools because different options work better in different settings. For example, vouchers may not work well in a rural area where there are no better alternatives within a reasonable distance for children to travel, but they may be the answer in an urban environment. If local districts wish to do it, if states wish to do it, I think that’s fine. It goes to the basic concept that education is a state’s decision.

I also think that we ought to have tax credits for a family whose decision is to put their children in an alternative environment. That’s one way to empower families.

I am extremely proud of my record in improving public schools in Arkansas. Everyone is used to seeing Arkansas near the very bottom of national education rankings. Yet we just soared to eighth in overall quality in the Quality Counts 2008 study produced by Education Week. My sowing hard-fought reforms in areas such as reading and math fundamentals, art and music in our schools, more demanding curricula and Advanced Placement classes, higher teacher pay and school accountability is reaping huge rewards for our children and their future.

Pastore: 4. You’re accused of being weak on national security and your statement that we have “an arrogant foreign policy” is troubling. We need to hear more clearly why you think that is. Why do you want to close Guantanamo? Do you really want to give “enemy combatants” full access to our court system? This too, is troubling. In spite of this, it sounds like you “get” the global war against radical Islam. Please convince us you’ve got what it takes to go toe to toe with Osama, Ahmadinejad, Kim Jung-il, Putin, Chavez and China.

Huckabee: My perspective on foreign policy has been shaped by my experiences as a governor. I’ve traveled to approximately 40 countries in my lifetime and met with many of the world’s leaders. As governor, I’ve traveled extensively not only in trade agreements and cultural exchanges, but I’ve chaired the U.S. chapter of the World League for Freedom and Democracy and worked with elected officials from other countries. I’ve been to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel (nine times), Egypt, all over Europe, Russia, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan. I think Ronald Reagan was a great example of a person who came to office with the same kind of skepticism and criticism. He hadn’t had foreign political experience, but he had judgment, he had clear principles that guided him. He understood that the U.S. should be the most powerful nation on earth, but had to use that power circumspectly.

I do not believe that we have an arrogant foreign policy. I believe that Secretary Rumsfeld behaved arrogantly in not listening to the military about how many troops we needed to invade Iraq initially and then in refusing for years to adopt a counterinsurgency strategy. It is the counterinsurgency strategy finally adopted under General Petraeus and Secretary Gates that has been so successful this past year in Iraq.

When I said I wanted to close Guantanamo, I wasn’t staking out new ground, I was stating my agreement with President Bush and Secretary Gates on that issue. Since then, Admiral Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has come forward to say he favors closing the base.

It’s not that I want to give “enemy combatants” access to our court system: the Supreme Court has already held that the prisoners’ rights are not dependent on whether they are at Guantanamo or on the U. S. mainland because Guantanamo is equivalent to U. S. soil. Whatever rights these foreign prisoners have—and we’ll know that better when the Boumediene case, which is pending before the Supreme Court, is decided – our government can’t deprive them of those rights by keeping them at Guantanamo. In Rasul, the Supreme Court held that the Guantanamo prisoners had a statutory right to habeas corpus; Boumediene will tell us if they have a constitutional right.

I have what it takes to go toe-to-toe with our enemies because I understand the seriousness of the threats we face. I want to expand and strengthen our military by increasing defense spending from less than 4 percent of our GDP to the 6 percent it was under President Reagan. I know that President Clinton’s “peace dividend” has become our “war deficit.” I want to add the 92,000 to our Army and Marines that President Bush has proposed, but I want to accomplish that sooner. I know that we need to upgrade our intelligence to get information about armed groups who are ideologically opposed to us all over the world—micro groups can cause macro damage in this age of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

With respect to the war on terror, I understand the radical theology and ideology their ruthlessness is based on; I understand that they really want to establish an Islamic caliphate and destroy our civilization. I am concerned about Al Qaeda’s safe haven in Pakistan, which it is using not only to attack Afghanistan and plot against us, but also to undermine the Pakistani government. I know that we must win in Iraq, not only for the security of the Iraqis, but for the security of the entire region and our own security. I recognize Iran’s ambitions to spread westward and establish a “Shiite crescent” by causing the Sunni governments in its path to fall like dominoes, and I understand that we must have a strong, unified Iraq to serve as a bulwark against such Iranian expansionism. I am concerned about Iran’s links to Hamas and Hezbollah and its nuclear ambitions. After decades of containment, President Reagan adopted a new strategy in the Cold War—we win, they lose. My strategy in the war on terror—we win, they lose.

I recognize that China isn’t just an economic threat, but a military one as well. I know that they have been investing heavily in their military, especially their navy, which they see as a key instrument for projecting their power. Last year their military spending increased 18 percent. That means that in 17 of the past 18 years, they have had double-digit increases in military spending.

I will be very cautious in my dealings with North Korea. We recently found traces of highly-enriched uranium on aluminum tubes that they handed over to us, when they claim they’ve never had a program to enrich uranium. This comes on the heels of the Israeli raid on a Syrian nuclear facility involving material from North Korea. Recently they missed the important deadline of December 31st to disable their nuclear facilities; disclose their nuclear programs, facilities, and materials; disclose how much plutonium they have extracted; disclose their uranium enrichment program (the existence of which they deny); and disclose their transfer of nuclear materials and technology to other countries (which they also deny). Given the potential North Korean/terrorist nexus, it is essential that we are tough on North Korea as part of our war on terror.

In Russia, President Putin is spending his oil revenues updating his Soviet-era military. They have a new missile defense shield around Moscow, have been investing heavily in their Pacific Fleet, and have been developing new missiles, including a new ICBM that they have successfully tested.

We must remember that when the Soviet Union fell, we still had Russia. This is a country which has always had both imperialist ambitions and an inferiority complex relative to the west. Czarist history is a case study in schizophrenia, centuries of struggle between Westernizers and Slavophiles. We will continue to experience this push-pull, continue to have good days and bad with Russia, but overall it will be better than the Cold War. The bottom line is that Putin doesn’t want another terrorist attack like the school siege in Beslan any more than we want another 9/11. But he despises the loss of face from the fall of the Soviet Union and will do everything he can to reassert Russia’s strength and power—militarily, economically, diplomatically. I see him for what he is—a staunch nationalist in a country that has no tradition of democracy, just autocracy. The vacation from history is over. We must get back to work and continue to project our power as consistently and forcefully as Russia will hers.

Pastore: 5. Your position on illegal immigration is confusing. On the one hand, you’ve got the strongest immigration platform of all the candidates and you want to pardon border agents Ramos and Compean as your first presidential act. We all love this. But, on the other hand, you gave children of illegals in-state tuition breaks in Arkansas. Please explain this apparent inconsistency.

Huckabee: There isn’t an inconsistency—it’s a matter of which desk you sit behind. As governor, I had no control over immigration, which is a federal issue. I had no control over our borders or who came into my state. So I tried to improve something I did have control over–turning my state’s tax-takers into taxpayers. I proposed giving children who had gone through our schools and done very well academically, who were alcohol and drug-free, and who were applying for citizenship, the opportunity to compete for a very select academically-based scholarship along with their peers. I didn’t believe then, and I don’t believe now, that innocent children should be punished for the sins of their parents. There was no limit on the number of scholarships—everyone who qualified got one, so they wouldn’t have been taking scholarships away from another Arkansas resident. My plan was not adopted; no child ever received one of these scholarships. And contrary to distortions promoted by my political opponents, no children of illegals ever got in-state tuition breaks.

Pastore: 6. You have said that you want a national ban on smoking. This offends even the vast majority of non-smoking conservatives because it violates the principle of federalism. How serious are you about this?

Huckabee: This has been misinterpreted because I strongly support the principle of federalism. At a Lance Armstrong cancer forum last August, I said that if Congress presented me with legislation banning smoking in public places, I would sign it. That is because I would not oppose the overwhelming public support that such a congressional vote would reflect. But since such sentiment for federal legislation doesn’t exist at this time, and since I have also said that the responsibility for regulating smoking initially lies with the states, I believe that this issue is best addressed at the state and local levels.

Pastore: 7. We understand the need to talk about the environment and global warming for electoral purposes. How serious are you about governmental involvement in this, too?

Huckabee: I believe that we must be good stewards of our environment because God has entrusted us to take care of this world that He created for us. We don’t own the earth, it is on loan to us. In that light, I believe that we must take care of our air and water and forests and wildlife to keep both ourselves and the overall system healthy. We must pass the earth on to the next generation in at least as good a shape as it was handed to us. Anything less diligent and conscientious would be poor stewardship and an abdication of a God-given responsibility.

I believe that we must cut greenhouse gas emissions. A cap and trade system has worked well for acid rain caused by the emission of sulphur dioxide, and I believe it can also work well for the emission of carbon dioxide. At the same time, I don’t want to impose too great a burden on our businesses, which is why I believe that some of the allowances for emissions must be given to our businesses rather than auctioning off 100 percent of them, as some environmentalists are demanding.

Mike Huckabee governed Arkansas from 1996-2007 and is running for the presidential nomination of the Republican party.

The Bully Pulpit

January 15, 2008

Why is Mike Huckabee’s candidacy, hopeful nomination, and future November victory so important?

Some might say it’s his fresh ideas on policy issues, especially on the many domestic issues facing America: getting rid of the IRS, focusing on protecting all of life — from the unborn to those on their deathbeds, weapons of mass instruction (arts and music in the schools), energy independence in 10 years.

Some might say it’s his vertical politics.

Some might say it’s his humor.

Some might say it’s his populist, down-to-earth nature.

But while those are all great reasons for why Mike Huckabee should be the next President, I’m not sure anyone has truly grasped why he is such an important candidate: THE BULLY PULPIT.

You see, we’ve endured eight years of a White House that has lacked a communicator-in-chief, except for maybe 10 days in a September that seems paradoxically so close, yet so far away. Yes, the President is supposed to be the commander in chief, but he’s also supposed to be the communicator in chief, using his position at the White House, to communicate to the people why his policies are vital. And he can’t do it, with only Republican support or a Republican Congress.

He has to do it with the country behind him.

To those who laugh at the thought of an energy-independent America in 10 years, who laughed in 1961 at President Kennedy when he declared we’d put a man on the moon by the end of the decade? So why do we laugh today when our technology capability and knowledge base is 100,000 times that of the 1960s?

To those who laugh at the thought of getting rid of the biggest bureaucracy and wiping a dreaded date off of our calendars, what other plan do you have? No matter your political persuasion, there is common agreeance that the IRS is in bad need of an overhaul — or to look at the Huckabee campaign proposals, to just skip the overhaul and get rid of it. Crazy, right?

Think about it. If you’ve heard Mike Huckabee talk, he’s the kind of gifted communicator this country has been craving for. Not only can he charm an audience (not unlike another candidate in a different party), but he actually has fresh ideas for fixing our nation’s many domestic problems.

How does he do that? The bully pulpit power. He goes to the American people, and in some cases, Congress, and communicates to them why his ideas and policy proposals are so important. He convinces the American people through his office, why these policies need to move forward, and he pushes them to the forefront of the debate. It takes a gifted communicator to do that, and Mike Huckabee is just what this country needs.

And before anyone wonders why I didn’t address the foreign policy concerns/questions about Gov. Huckabee, I’ll finish with this thought: do we really expect a candidate to be able to have all the necessary experience upfront? Isn’t that why campaigns and then officeholders have policy advisers? What’s more important at the end of the day? Character, communication skills, decision-making abilities, especially in crisis situations (see Gov. Huckabee’s first day of office and his efforts after Hurriance Katrina), getting things done in government? Or brilliant knowledge, without the capacity to communicate it?

Finally, I’ll say this. Yes, there are foreign policy issues facing the United States, but to use Gov. Huckabee’s word, “frankly”, the domestic issues enormously outweigh the foreign policy concerns, and I want someone in office who has gotten things done in a fresh way, not afraid to look at the whole table of possible solutions, not afraid to not adhere to the PARTY mantra (heaven-forbid), willing to work with those of other political persuasions, yet still holding onto his own core convictions, while getting problems solved, and leaving his state (and hopefully this country), better than when he came into office.

Mike Huckabee GOP Debate “Gates of Hell”

January 11, 2008

Mike Huckabee GOP Debate Clips (Luntz Focus Group)

January 11, 2008