[Clip of George Will: "Nightmare scenario. You're the security advisor. You're awakened in the middle of the night. You have three minutes to get the details of an attack coming on the United States. Then the president, who you notify, has four minutes to answer. That's seven minutes. Which candidate fits the seven minute question?]
How can you convince voters that you're the candidate to pass that test? You've only served as governor of Arkansas.
Huckabee: I have. Ronald Reagan had been an actor and had been governor of California. Bill Clinton had only been governor of Arkansas. Democrats...
Stephanopoulos: This is the post-9/11 world where we're in World War III, by your admission.
Huckabee: It is, but it still is the same type of situation where what you really have in the case of a leader is not so much where he's been, but what his operating system is; what his judgment is. Does he handle crisis? Can he assimilate facts quickly and, then, can he communicate? And is he decisive?
These are qualities, I think, that come from being a governor.
Stephanopoulos: What is the closest you have you have ever come? What's the most difficult question you've ever had to handle that is even close to responding to an attack on the...
Huckabee: Well, I think there have been several that -- nothing is close, maybe, to world war, but when Katrina hit the Gulf shore, we had 75,000 evacuees that came to Arkansas. Our population increased 3 percent in five days.
We managed that in a way that most of the nation didn't know, but the ones who did marveled at it, because we didn't have the problems that many other states had in trying to assimilate all of these evacuees that came in suddenly, unexpectedly, and with nothing but -- literally -- the dirty, muddy clothes on their back.
And we did it by bringing all of our resources together, marshalling the troops of both the public and private sectors, and taking charge of a situation where it was clear the federal government was in complete meltdown.
Stephanopoulos: I have looked at everything you said. I'm actually having a hard time figuring out: Do you support the president's plan to send more troops to Iraq now or not?
Huckabee: Well, what I try and say, George, is I support that the president has the right to make these decisions as commander in chief.
We need to give him time to let it work.
Stephanopoulos: So if you were in the Senate, you'd vote for the plan?
Huckabee: I would give him a chance. You bet I would.
But here's what I would also do. I would caution the president:
Mr. President, you cannot continue to overstress these National Guard and Reserve troops. And that's what worries me.
If we have a worn-out Army and we have a worn-out Reserve force, what do we do when something breaks loose in Iran, Russia, Venezuela, North Korea?
Stephanopoulos: So, then, the question is: How much time do we have?
And you wrote in your book that we should set a timetable for the Iraqis. What would your timetable be?
Huckabee: Well, I was careful not to say there should be a specific timetable. In fact, I've said it's like a baseball game, not a football game. You can't put it on a specific clock.
Stephanopoulos: But you said you have to give the Iraqis a timetable for progress?