The victor of the 2008 Republican Party Caucuses is urging Iowans to reject calls to cut foreign aid to Africa. 2012 Presidential candidates like Ron Paul and Rick Perry have vowed to make dramatic cuts in U.S. foreign aid, but former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee says that would send a “disastrous” message.

“If America wants to be known only as a country that puts bombs in neighborhoods, then that’s one thing,” Huckabee said during an interview with Radio Iowa. “But I think America also wants to be known as a country that puts food in the mouths of children in extreme poverty.” 

Huckabee is part of the “One” campaign which has labeled “famine” as the real “F word”.  According to Huckabee, conservatives should embrace the notion because of the “obvious” benefit to the children who are helped and the “strategic” benefit for the U.S.

“So that as children grow up their image, their vision, their understanding of who Americans are is that Americans are the ones who saved our lives and Americans are the ones that our friends,” Huckabee told Radio Iowa.

“That’s important because Africa is going to be the largest continent in population within another generation or so, eclipsing China. When that happens, I think Americans would have enough sense to realize it’s best that we have good relationships with these African nations, not relationships where they wish that we didn’t exist.”

Huckabee expects the issue of foreign aid to come up tonight in the Republican Party’s Caucuses. Huckabee considered running for president a second time, but he announced this past spring he wouldn’t.  During a conversation this morning with Radio Iowa news director O. Kay Henderson, Huckabee offered this analysis of the 2012 race:

“Quite frankly, Kay if I walked in the booth today I’m not sure who I’d pull the lever for. Nobody has so persuaded me that I’m ready to get a yard sign and put out in my yard, so I’m watching and waiting to see, you know, which of these candidates come forth with what I would consider a broad and balanced message and that shows the capacity to lead and not just campaign.” 

Huckabee suggests he’s a bit “frustrated” by the way the 2012 campaign is playing out.

“Many of the Republicans are more interested in just defeating Barack Obama than they are in rebuilding America,” Huckabee told Radio Iowa. “Well, defeating somebody without a plan to really resolve problems, to me, is a worthless endeavor.”

Huckabee would like to see the Republican field focus on “how to get the country back to work.” Huckabee does not intend to endorse a candidate ’til much later in the year and may wait until the party’s nominee is chosen at its national convention.  He describes Iowa’s Caucuses as a “make or break” enterprise for a candidate and he predicts Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul are likely to finish ahead of the rest of the pack.

“Even on my own network at FOX I was very frustrated when I saw some of the chattering class talking-heads last night talking about that, ‘Well, you know Huckabee, he did well in Iowa, but then he sputtered,'” Huckabee told Radio Iowa. “I’m thinking, ‘Excuse me!’ You know, I qualified for the ballot in every state. I came in second. I won a lot of states after Iowa, but it wouldn’t have happened had it not been for Iowa.”

Iowa is a “very important place” where candidates must “play” according to Huckabee.

“It’s not going to be the entire campaign, but it’s the make or break and if you can’t play there, chances are you’re probably not going to go much further,” Huckabee said. “And if you think you are, ask Rudy how that turned out for him four years ago to wait for us all in Florida.”

Rudy Giuliani did not campaign much in the states that held lead-off contests in 2008 and made his stand in Florida, where he came in third behind John McCain and Mitt Romney. Huckabee, who has moved to Florida, spends much of his time on the road, giving speeches and recording his weekend television show on FOX.  He also has a syndicated radio program, The Huckabee Report, which airs on more than 500 stations.