Mike Huckabee Calls Himself 'Paradoxical Republican'

ByABC News
February 11, 2007, 10:27 AM

Feb. 11, 2007 — -- 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.

Huckabee: OK.

Stephanopoulos: They say you're not paradoxical...

Huckabee: You mean I have some?

Stephanopoulos: A few, a few.

Huckabee: OK.

Stephanopoulos: They say you're heretical. They look at your record in Arkansas and say: Gas taxes went up.

Huckabee: Yes.

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?

Huckabee: Well, you know, when people say we shouldn't have any taxes, you know what? When you dial 911 and your house is on fire, you want a fire truck to come. Guess what pays for it? Taxes. What Americans don't want is unfair, unnecessary, exceptionally high taxes where the money is wasted. But Americans understand that, if you have the garbage pickup, or the fire trucks and police cars out there, or for that matter if you have a highway, then it's got to be paid for.

Stephanopoulos: So how does that extend, then, to the job you'll have to do as president? You know, a lot of your opponents in this race are signing this pledge -- the Americans for Tax Reform taxpayer protection pledge -- basically saying we're going to oppose any effort to increase the income tax.

You haven't signed it. Do you think it's a gimmick?

Huckabee: It's not necessarily a gimmick, and I may decide I will sign it.

But, right now, what I want to make sure is that I don't assign something that says that if we had a catastrophic incident, a world war, which I think we're in the middle of or at least in the beginnings of already, I don't want to put myself in a box and make a pledge to an interest group that isn't really as sacred as the pledge that I would make to the people of the country to uphold the Constitution.Stephanopoulos: You talk about the fact that you believe we're in World War III right now...

Huckabee: I do.

Stephanopoulos: ... in your speech earlier.

[Clip of Huckabee: We do have a war -- a world war that is on fire and we have to recognize that the next president must face that and must face it clearly and must understand its theological base.]

How do you fight a worldwide religious war without turning it into a 21st century crusade?

Huckabee: I think you have to be very careful that we don't think that our goal is to take our religion and impose it on somebody else.

That's not what this war is about. But we have to understand it from the point of the Islamic fascists who really would like to annihilate us.

I think you have to take seriously that this is, at heart, an effort where they believe that God has put them on this planet so that they will bring a complete cleansing of all the infidels -- which they consider us to be.

And the only cleansing that can really be done is not to isolate us to our part of the world, but is to annihilate us.

That's why this is such a more dangerous situation.