Fox News "Your World with Neil Cavuto" - Transcript
MR. CAVUTO: Well, did the president just stimulate the GOP on the campaign trail? Well, my next guest certainly hopes so. He is breathing down John McCain's neck in South Carolina where he plans on winning tomorrow's primary -- we shall see, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.
Governor, welcome, thank you for joining us.
MR. HUCKABEE: Thank you very much. Great to be back.
MR. CAVUTO: First up, sir, on the president's stimulus plan, what do you think of that?
MR. HUCKABEE: Well, I think he's doing the right thing. I support the president. I believe everyone in the country was waiting for there to be some action, and I think it's a responsible step for him to take. Let's face it. What government needs to do is to do the short-term things the president is proposing. Those are good -- the $145 billion package. But I think also we've got to start looking at the long-term impact. I'm here in South Carolina. There's 143,000 unemployed people. They had the largest jump today alone that they've had since 1990 in unemployment in a one-month period, up to 6.6 (percent). That's serious problems for a lot of families. And what we need to be thinking about is how to make tax cuts lower and more permanent.
I still think, Neil, as you know, I'm a strong supporter of the fair tax. We need a total overhaul of the system. But we've also got to start attacking the issue of regulation and litigation, make it so that people who are in business can stay in business, not have to shut those jobs down, not have to end up sending jobs half way around the world.
MR. CAVUTO: Let me ask you, Governor, if we're doing this type of stimulus in an economy, this unemployment rate in South Carolina notwithstanding, sir, that's still pretty good -- 5 percent national unemployment, 3 percent-plus growth. What the heck would we do if things were much worse than this?
MR. HUCKABEE: Well, they're going to get much worse if we don't take some type of action. There are 2 million Americans who stand to potentially lose their homes this year. There are also a lot of people who, because of the increase of fuel costs, health care costs and education costs, they're not getting ahead. They're working harder this year than they did last year, but they're actually slipping behind in their capacity for earning. That's a dangerous sign.
And you know, Neil, I was the guy a few months ago in the debate in Dearborn when all my colleagues, Republican candidates running for president, said the economy was doing great, I was the one guy who said you ought to talk to the people serving the food, talk to the people handling the bags. You get a different answer. And I was months ahead thinking that we were headed toward this, and the reasons is is because I think a lot of people who get into politics, they don't talk to people at the middle class, they don't talk and listen to enough people who are out there doing the service industry jobs. And that's where these kind of problems hit first. And it may not show up in the macroeconomy numbers, but it's sure showing up in the homes of families that really are living one paycheck away from not being able to pay the rent or put groceries on the table.
MR. CAVUTO: Governor, is South Carolina a must-win for you?
MR. HUCKABEE: Well, I'd like to say they're all a very important win. We think we will win here tomorrow. It's an important win for us. You know, I guess the question is, if we don't win here, are we out? No, of course not. We're still doing so much better than many of the other candidates. But second place is not what we're shooting for tomorrow. We're shooting for a win, and I'm making it real clear, you know, our goal is victory tomorrow night. We knew we weren't likely to win in Michigan, didn't think I'd win in New Hampshire. But we showed that we were ahead of most of the candidates, and we came out with a metal. But tomorrow night, we want the gold. We want to win this race. And I think it stands probably likely that we will, maybe even more so in light of this economic news, because people know that Washington insiders are probably not the right people to put in charge of an economy. Governors who have dealt with these issues of joblessness and the challenge of economic downturns, that's who we need right now to approach this.
MR. CAVUTO: Governor, as you know, a lot of your opponents have said that as governor you were not of the conservatives' liking on these fiscal issues, that you were inclined to raise taxes, and that you were not this tax-cutting crusader you say you are. What do you say to that?
MR. HUCKABEE: Well, you know, rather than me say it, a group of Arkansas business executives, many from Fortune 500 companies in my state, really got sick of hearing that. And they came to South Carolina, had a press conference the same day that some of these Washington special interest groups, the 527s, came down having spent $750,000 to attack me. But the people who lived in my state talked about the fact that we saw per capita income go up 50 percent. The business climate in Arkansas dramatically improved. And these are the people who run businesses. I tend to think that they have a better perspective of my conservativism than people whose 527 special interest groups are financed by the major donors to one of my opponents, which is exactly where a lot of this has come from.
MR. CAVUTO: All right. Are you saying that's coming from the McCain camp?
MR. HUCKABEE: No. Most of that came from people who are heavy contributors to Mitt Romney. If you look at the list of contributors to the Club for Growth, it reads like his basic, you know, campaign finance report. And you know, it is what it is. These 527s are, to me, a curse upon the American political --
MR. CAVUTO: All right. I apologize. We're having some audio problems with Governor Huckabee.
Do we have him back?
Governor, can you hear me?
MR. HUCKABEE: I can hear you fine, Neil.
MR. CAVUTO: Okay. I'm sorry, Governor. We had some audio problems there. We had someone named Romney working the control board. I'll check into it.
MR. HUCKABEE: (Laughs.
MR. CAVUTO: But let me ask you, Governor, there is a feeling now that the whole issue of illegal immigration could be the deciding factor in South Carolina and, ironically, an issue that you would think would work against Senator McCain. He has now butted that issue with the whole military, serving-your-country issue saying that he would not tell a soldier serving in Iraq that his mom has to be sent back or spouse has to be sent back because of this whole illegal immigration issue. So he seems to be uniting those two issues and registering in the polls. What do you think of that?
MR. HUCKABEE: Well, I have tremendous support from the military, because I've talked about the fact that we need to boost our military spending from its 3.8 percent GDP up to 6 percent. That's a $200 billion-a-year increase. That also helps to put Americans back to work when we rebuild our military. We've got to quit stretching out our Guard and Reserve units. As a governor and commander in chief of our Guard, I saw 90 percent of our Guard troops go to Iraq or Afghanistan, and many of them three years of deployment within a five- year period. We're going to put our soldiers in a position, particularly our citizen soldiers, where it's going to be really hard to retain them. And that's why we really have to make some changes, not so much tactically but strategically in terms of our military approach.
And we have strong military support and particularly among veterans because of the veterans bill of rights that we launched a few months ago saying that when veterans go, we ought to give them everything they need to be successful. But when they come back, we need to make sure that we give them everything that they deserve. We have a moral obligation to do that, and we wouldn't make them stand in line or wait their turn or, worse, drive two and three hours to a facility that's convenient for the government when there's one convenient to them right in their own hometown.
MR. CAVUTO: All right, Governor, finally, if you were president and we had a slowing economy environment as we do now, would you advocate giving rebate checks to everyone, or would you isolate it to lower and middle-income folks? How would you do it?
MR. HUCKABEE: Well, of course, what I'd like to see is not penalize productivity at all. I'd eliminate taxes on people for their earnings, whether it was earned through savings, dividends, inheritance or wages. I think it's counterintuitive to the economic system when you penalize people for working and earning. You ought to encourage people to do those very kinds of things. So if our economy was really robust, what I would make sure is that we made those tax cuts permanent and that we start trying, until we get the fair tax implemented, try to cut the taxes not just for individuals but for corporations, because corporate taxes never are paid by companies. They're passed on to the consumers in the price of higher products, making our products less competitive with those from other governments.
MR. CAVUTO: All right. Very quickly, sir -- your opponent John McCain has said he, too, says those tax cuts, the president's tax cuts, should be permanent, even though he voted against them. What do you think of that?
MR. HUCKABEE: Well, I'm glad he's come around. I was for those tax cuts when they first came out. Romney wasn't, John McCain wasn't, but I was, and I'm for them now, and I haven't changed my position on that. I'm glad they agree with them. Obviously, when those tax cuts happened, it did have a very significant impact on the economy and a very positive one to be sure.
MR. CAVUTO: All right. Governor, thank you very much.
MR. HUCKABEE: Thank you, Neil.