Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee says the character of the GOP candidates should be an issue in 2008. If it isn’t, the former Arkansas governor who is also a Baptist minister, says Christian conservatives in his party owes Bill Clinton an apology.
"I’m specifically referencing Christian Evangelical leaders who were the most vocal in saying back during the Clinton era that personal behavior, personal responsibility, character were the key factors in a president’s criteria," Huckabee said Friday morning during taping of an Iowa Public Television program.
According to Huckabee, who describes himself as an Evangelical Christian, it is "hypocrisy" for Christian conservative leaders who hold some sway in his party to overlook certain behavior. "I feel like I have the responsibility to say, if you will, prophetically to those leaders that if you said during Bill Clinton’s tenure that his personal behavior mattered…you can’t now come along and say ‘but it doesn’t matter to the Republicans in 2008,’" Huckabee said.
In public opinion polls, Huckabee lags behind candidates like Rudy Giuliani, who has been married three times, went through a very public and bitter divorce with his second wife, and is estranged from his son. Huckabee is openly asking Evangelical Christian leaders if all that is fair game. "And if it is, o.kay. If it isn’t, then why is it an issue for Bill Clinton and it’s not for somebody else?" Huckabee said. "My point is consistency, because I do believe that it’s an issue of credibility…Christian leaders need to be Christian leaders…Either be consistent, be Christian leaders or just say ‘Look, I’m a political boss and it’s really about the power.’"
Ten Republican presidential candidates will be in Des Moines Saturday night, including Giuliani and other leading competitors like John McCain and Mitt Romney. All ten will speak briefly at an Iowa Republican Party fundraiser.
Huckabee made his comments during taping of the Iowa Public Television program "Iowa Press" which will air tonight at 7:30.