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In appeal to conservatives, Huckabee calls for stronger military, stronger families

In appeal to conservatives, Huckabee calls for stronger military, stronger families

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee appealed to Iowa conservatives on two fronts Saturday, calling for a stronger military and stronger families.
Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who jumped to a lead in Iowa polls earlier this month, wants a drastic increase in regular forces to ease the strain on National Guard and reserve units being called up for duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We need to have a larger regular force to make sure we are capable if we do have to go into battle, and let's pray to God that we don't," Huckabee told about 120 people in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Huckabee acknowledged the criticism leveled at him last week for his negative comments about President George W. Bush's foreign policy, although he mischaracterized the criticism.
Huckabee said detractors do not like his opinion that a larger force should have invaded Iraq. In fact, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice disagreed with a separate Huckabee complaint, that Bush has an "arrogant bunker mentality" toward foreign policy that is offensive to other countries.
"Mistakes were made in how things were handled; we all understand that," Huckabee said of the Iraq war. "Now I'm getting criticism because I'm suggesting there were mistakes in the light-footprint concept."
He repeated his complaint that Bush should have listened to military commanders who said more troops were needed for the initial invasion.
"Once you engage in battle, you do not let the politicians second-guess and mess with the decisions of the battlefield commanders who have the blood on their boots and the medals on their chest," Huckabee told around 300 supporters later in a high school auditorium in Sioux Falls.
Huckabee's foreign policy views were also criticized by Republican rival Mitt Romney, whom Huckabee knocked out of the lead in Iowa polls earlier this month.
The ascent of Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, has been fueled by Christian conservatives who share his evangelical faith and, in many cases, say they are uncomfortable with Romney's Mormon faith.
On his final stretch of campaigning before the Christmas holiday, Huckabee underlined his lifelong opposition to abortion and gay marriage, issues that will likely drive many churchgoers to the Jan. 3 caucuses in Iowa. He spent Saturday traveling the western edge of Iowa, the most conservative part of the state, where Romney and another rival, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, campaigned late last week.
"It's not because I don't like them," Huckabee said of gay people. "It's because I like even more the idea that the heart and soul, the essence of our civilization is in the family. It's not in the government. It's not even in some institution, not even the church. Before there was the church, and before there was government, there was family.
"When you mess with the design, you end up messing with results," he added. "We can't afford to do that. That's why you will never hear me waver."
His emphasis on consistency calls attention to Romney's inconsistency. Romney favored abortion rights and gay rights when elected governor of Massachusetts, but has since changed his mind on abortion and in his presidential campaign has played down his support for gay rights, while playing up his opposition to gay marriage.
Huckabee also thumped Romney for spending millions of dollars to organize and boost his profile in Iowa. Huckabee runs a tiny campaign on a shoestring budget and even with significant help from outside groups and pastors is vastly outgunned in the state.
"But what would happen in this country if money couldn't buy the presidency?" Huckabee asked. "What would happen if Iowa said we're not for sale, and we're not even for rent?"
It wasn't all seriousness for Huckabee, who despite his conservative image likes to rock out on bass guitar. In Sioux City, to illustrate what he needs to do over the crucial next few days, Huckabee played "Takin' Care of Business," the 1970s hit by Bachman-Turner Overdrive.


Updated : 2021-04-11 12:02 GMT+08:00