Like another Arkansas governor who made it big, Mike Huckabee comes from the tiny town, Hope, Ark. Time magazine named him one of America's five best governors and Huckabee is banking on that experience and his eclectic background to get elected to the White House in 2008. He's a southern Baptist preacher, who plays bass in a rock band; a fried food addict, who lost more than 100 pounds and a solid social conservative, who targeted tax increases to health care, highways and schools.
Huckabee calls himself a "paradoxical Republican." The following is a transcript of his interview with "This Week's" George Stephanopoulos in Nashua, N.H.
Stephanopoulos began by asking Huckabee what "paradoxical Republican" means.
Huckabee: It means that I take sides of issues that I think people don't expect Republicans necessarily to join up with.
For example, one of my real passions is music and art in the curriculum of students. And when I talk about that and talk about it with the kind of passion that I do, people say, "Are you a Republican?" as if Republicans don't like music.
There's such a value in developing both the left and right sides of the brain. And yet there's this perception that Republicans sort of stay away from the arts.
Well, I want to prove them to be wrong.
Stephanopoulos: What's your favorite song?
Huckabee: Oh, don't ask that because then you start getting me into stuff, which artist. It's going to most likely be a Mellencamp or Rolling Stones or Beatles song. Maybe Creedence. But can you tell, it's got to be heavy guitar music in there?
Stephanopoulos: Heavy guitar, but you're not going to choose your real politician.Here's what your critics say, though.
Stephanopoulos: They say you're not paradoxical...
Huckabee: You mean I have some?
Stephanopoulos: A few, a few.
Stephanopoulos: They say you're heretical. They look at your record in Arkansas and say: Gas taxes went up.
Stephanopoulos: Cigarette taxes went up. The sales tax went up. Spending skyrocketed during your two plus terms as governor.
Huckabee: We cut 90 taxes during the time I was governor. We eliminated the marriage penalty. We doubled the child care tax credit.
We incomed -- indexed the income tax for inflation so that people wouldn't be caught in tax brackets they shouldn't be paying. We lifted the threshold over which people pay taxes -- the first broad-based tax cut in the history. We cut capital gains tax.
Stephanopoulos: But you did raise those other taxes.
Huckabee: Well, here's what we did. On the gas tax, yes. You know what we did? We put it on the ballot. And 80 percent of the people of Arkansas voted for those fuel taxes because they wanted better roads. I wanted better roads. I have no apology for building better roads in the state, creating 40,000 jobs in the process of doing it, and taking our roads from what Truckers magazine said were the worst in the country to the most improved in the country. That's economic development.
Stephanopoulos: So taxes aren't always the root of all evil?