Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee shared his views on the recent Iran nuclear deal on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, here is what he had to say.
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WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: With us now, one of Donald Trump’s opponents for the Republican presidential nomination, the former Arkansas governor, Mike Huckabee.
Governor, thanks very much for joining us. What do you think? You just heard some of the excerpts, some of the clips from his speech. I don’t know if you watched him earlier, but it’s pretty amazing when you think about it.
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, to quote Toby Keith’s great song, I want to talk about me. And you know, sometimes all the interviews these days are about Donald Trump. But Wolf, if we don’t get to some issues, I’m going to give your cell phone number out on the air –
HUCKABEE: — and everybody in America will be calling you.
BLITZER: That’s a major threat. Governor, take a look at this. Arguably, Donald Trump, he’s now the frontrunner. Look at this ABC/”Washington Post” poll for the Republican nomination. Trump, 24 percent; Scott Walker, 13; Jeb Bush, 12. You’re at eight percent, Rubio seven, Rand Paul, six. Why is he doing so well?
HUCKABEE: He’s striking a nerve with a lot of people who are just fed up with government. They’re fed up with — I think just a double mindedness on the part of so many people in politics. And he’s speaking in such a blunt way.
And one of the things I hear out there, Wolf, there are some people – and they are not interested in someone going to Washington and presiding over this country and governing. They’re so angry that right now what they’re thinking about is just burn it all down. And I understand that rage, but as we get closer to electing a president, people are going to be thinking more about governing and less about just burning down the whole system.
BLITZER: Because when you hear some of the language going on, and certainly Donald Trump caused a huge stir by saying what he said about Senator John McCain when he was a POW in Vietnam. Then Senator McCain’s best friend, Lindsey Graham, called him a jackass. You heard what Donald Trump called Lindsey Graham today. Gave out his personal cell phone number.
Serious question, Governor: Is this the party, the Republican party of Ronald Reagan? Because you remember his 11th commandment.
HUCKABEE: Well, I think, look, there’s 16 candidates. And all the attention is being focused on one of the candidates who is being very plain spoken. But when I’m going out there and talking, I’m talking about jobs, the trade deal, the Iranian threat. I talk about implementing the fair tax, I talk about the horrors of this Planned Parenthood video that reminds us how utterly disgusting this whole process is.
Frankly, rarely does a person in a town hall ever ask me about one of the other candidates. They just don’t. They ask me what I would do about jobs and about the economy and about how to get us safe again, how to deal with immigration, secure the border.
So, while everybody’s talking about it, it’s not the predominant issue among the Republican candidates.
BLITZER: I’m going to get to several of those issues with you, including the Iran nuclear deal. I know you have very strong thoughts on that.
But you’re also a Christian. You’re a minister. And Donald Trump was asked by Frank Luntz to talk a little bit about his relationship with God. Listen to this exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK LUNTZ: But have you ever asked God for forgiveness?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m not sure I have. I just go on trying to do a better job from there. I don’t think so. I think I — if I do something wrong, I think I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.
Now, when I take — when we go to church and when I drink my little wine, which is about the only wine I drink, and have my little cracker, I guess that’s a form of asking for forgiveness. And I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I just want your quick reaction. And then we’re going to move on to some major policy issues. But go ahead.
HUCKABEE: Well, I know I have to ask God’s forgiveness everyday because I think when we understand what sin is – sin is the pride of putting self above others. And I think we all have that. I challenge people, I say if you don’t think you’re a sinner, if you don’t think you’re self-centered, which is what it means to be a sinner, then the next time you get a group photo, look in that photo and tell me whose image do you look for first?
We are born, me first. And that’s really what sin is, and why we need to ask God’s forgiveness that we don’t elevate ourselves above others.
BLITZER: Stand by, Governor. We have more to discuss. I want to take a quick break. Much more with Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee right after this.
BLITZER: The field for the Republican presidential nomination grew to 16 today with the entry of the Ohio governor, John Kasich. He’s the tenth candidate to jump into the race since Mike Huckabee declared back in May that he was making another run for the White House. The former Arkansas governor is with us in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Governor, once again, thanks very much for joining us. Let’s talk about this Iran nuclear deal. You’ve been very critical of it, very opposed to it. Would it be a game changer as far as you’re concerned, though, if as a gesture of goodwill to the U.S., the Iranians went ahead and released those four Americans they’re holding hostage?
HUCKABEE: Wolf, they should have done that before the United States ever sat down at that table. That should have been a precondition. And the other two preconditions should have been that Iran agrees that Israel has a right to exist. And the third precondition should have been that they end the rhetoric of death to America. And if those three conditions were not met, we never should have sat down and even started this conversation, much less ended up with this 159-page agreement which I have read.
And it’s alarming. And it obviously has everyone in that neighborhood alarmed, from the Saudis to the Egyptians, the Jordanians, and of course most certainly the Israelis. But I’m one American who is outraged that this president is so intent on making a deal with people who haven’t kept a deal in 36 years since the ayatollahs took power.
BLITZER: If you do become president of the United States and let’s say this deal gets through, that there’s not a two-thirds majority to override a presidential veto in the House and Senate, what would you do on day one as far as Iran and this nuclear agreement is concerned? In other words, what would be your alternative?
HUCKABEE: The alternative is to take the actions to revoke the agreement, reinstitute the sanctions on Iran, make it clear that this was a terrible deal. It was done in a manner that didn’t really have the support of the American people, was not done in the best interest of peace, and that we have a new sheriff in town. And the new sheriff is not going to accept that agreement as one we’re going to live with because we can’t live with Iran having nuclear power. And we can’t live with them continuing to sponsor terrorism through Hamas and Hezbollah, kidnap Americans, kill Americans. It’s an unacceptable form of civilized behavior, and we simply aren’t going to negotiate with it.
BLITZER: But what if the Iranians do honor all of its nuclear commitments over the next year-and-a-half?
HUCKABEE: What if they are unicorns that are discovered somewhere in the Middle East? Show me when the Iranians have ever kept an agreement. They haven’t. Show me when the Iranians quit chanting “death to America.” They haven’t. Tell me when the Iranians they stopped sponsoring terrorism and murder people through Hezbollah and through Hamas. They haven’t. So there are a lot of ifs there.
But the one thing we know for certain is that this deal is predicated on the absolute iron-clad belief that the Iranians can be trusted. Now, somebody else may trust them; I most certainly do not. And obviously, neither do the Saudi Arabian government officials. Neither do the Egyptians, the Jordanians, the Kuwaitis, the Emirates, and I think anybody who’s ever watched them.
BLITZER: Well, you may be right on the others. The Jordanians did vote in the U.N. Security Council yesterday unanimous 15-0 vote in favor of the Iran nuclear agreement.
What Secretary of State Kerry says, is over the last year-and-a-half, two years, the Iranians have kept their word as part of the commitments they made as part of the interim agreement. They say they haven’t violated those commitments.
HUCKABEE: Well, they also, though, put money toward Hamas when Hamas was launching rockets toward Israel last year. I was in Israel at the end of that conflict.
I’ve been going to the Middle East since 1973. My first trip there was 42 years ago, and I’ve been through virtually every country in that region. And the one thing that I’m absolutely convinced of is that if you really want to mess up the Middle East, just let the Iranians continue to move toward having nuclear capacity, take their sanctions away and give them the kind of $120 billion to $150 billion assets to start buying up weapons for the Russians. That enriches the Russians, it empowers the Iranians and it endangers the world. It’s a deadly combination.
BLITZER: Today, President Obama took a direct swipe at people like you, the critics of the Iran nuclear deal, and people who supported back in 2003 the war against Iraq and Saddam who say — listen to President Obama today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the debate over this deal, we’re hearing the echoes of some of the same policies and mindset that failed us in the past. Some of the same politicians and pundits that are so quick to reject the possibility of a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear program are the same folks who are so quick to go to war in Iraq and said it would take a few months.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Basically what he’s saying is, you were wrong then and you’re wrong now. Go ahead and respond.
HUCKABEE: Well, if he really believes that the Iranians are interested in a diplomatic solution, that they’re going to suddenly quit being the snakes that they are, that you can charm them and make them behave, then he has a whole different understanding of snakes than I do, having grown up in south Arkansas, where we saw lots of snakes.
And I just don’t think that you can — at any point take a nation that has consistently murdered people, kidnapped people, held political prisoners, shot young people in the streets for disagreeing with their government, done everything they can to make it clear that their ultimate intentions are to destroy America and in the interim destroy Israel – and somehow think that those are the kind of folks you can sit down and really do business with. I think it’s an incredibly naive – it’s the mark of a Chamberlain, not a Churchill. And we’re living in a time of great danger. We need Churchills, not Chamberlains. Right now, we’ve got the rhetoric from this president that reminds me of Chamberlain.
BLITZER: Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor. He’s running for the Republican nomination. Just want to point out, Governor, at this point we checked eight years ago when you were running, you were very low, you were one or two percent in the polls. You went on to win the Iowa caucuses when they occurred. You couldn’t go ahead and get the nomination. John McCain got the nomination. But you got your work cut out ahead of you right now.
We’ll stay in close touch. We’ll see you on the campaign trail. Thanks very much about.
HUCKABEE: Thank you, Wolf. It’s always a pleasure to be with you.