ABC News’ Kevin Chupka reports: During a press conference Thursday night in West Des Moines, Iowa, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee suggested that after the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the United States should, "have an immediate, very clear monitoring of our border, and particularly to make sure, if there’s any unusual activity of Pakistanis coming into the country. We just need to be very very thorough in looking at every aspect of our own security internally."
While his argument echoed his calls for strict immigration law, Huckabee argued Bhutto’s death should not be politicized.
"I don’t think it’s appropriate to respond in a political way on this," he said. "I think what we need to do is maintain our focus on the fact that it’s a real tragic day in the world when a significant political leader, a person of great courage and I think former Prime Minister Bhutto is a person of great courage and she was willing to knowingly risk her life to go back into Pakistan to lead her country once again knowing full well the dangers of it but also showing a remarkable sense of fortitude in perusing it."
He added, "She (Bhutto) represents a threat to Islamic fundamentalists in that as a woman, an educated, sophisticated, strong, capable woman leader, that does pose a threat to those that don’t believe a woman should not be given that platform and that level of equality."
Huckabee also attempted to clarify comments he made earlier about marshal law in Pakistan. In Orlando, earlier in the day, he suggested that one of the United States’ priorities should be to determine, "what impact does it [Bhutto’s murder] have on whether or not there’s gonna be martial law continued in Pakistan, suspension of the constitution."
Marshal law having ceased two weeks ago, tonight Huckabee attempted to clear up his gaffe: "And what I said was, and it’s not that I was unaware that it was suspended two weeks ago, lifted to weeks ago. The point was, continued, would it be reinstated, would it be placed back in –- all the aspects of marshal law have not been completely lifted, even now. There’s still a heavy hand I think Musharraf has used."
Pakistan was not the only thing on reporter’s minds tonight in West Des Moines.
Huckabee was asked, as he so often is these days, about the negative attacks sent his way by the Romney campaign. “If the polls are any indication it’s not having the effect I’m sure he’s desiring and I would say it doesn’t look like he’s getting his money’s worth out of it. To spend that kind of money and not being able to move those numbers any more, it’s got to be disappointing to him, “ Huckabee said, “I think a lot of people know that the attacks are both desperate and dishonest. “
He then entered into the argument of his record on commutations.
The rhetoric has become commonplace in his stump but there was a bit of a bite in it just one week away from the pivotal Iowa caucus. "Quite frankly the politics of commutations are simple: don’t ever do one. But if you’re acting in what’s best for your own politics, you don’t ever give one. If you’re acting because you honestly take those cases and you look at them and you try to do justice to them, you will do some. You may even make some mistakes, in fact you probably will … I’d put my record up against his any day in the world and let that record, the true record go out there before the people of Iowa and they’ll see some mistakes but I’ll tell you, most of the time what they will see is that I would have treated their own son and daughter in a way that they would have wanted their son and daughter to be treated.”
Huckabee fires up the Iowa campaigning early Friday morning and will focus on the central part of the state for the next several days.