This is a rush transcript from "Huckabee," January, 7 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the most conservative of them all? It seems as if candidates on the Republican side spend a whole lot of time attempting to prove their conservative bona-fides while disparaging and questioning the authenticity of the other Republicans. Look, I personally know all of the candidates vying for the nomination and let me simply stipulate that compared to President Obama, they are all true blue conservatives. Sure, each of them have some strengths and weaknesses, and the voters can and should sort all of that stuff out. But pay little attention to the notion that any of these guys are liberals. Look, that's nonsense. Some are going have to answer for statements made, relationships forged, laws passed, personal failures, or financial gains or losses, but none of them are even close to being liberals.
Four years ago, Rush Limbaugh loved Mitt Romney and he supported him as the true conservative. Four years later, and he is criticizing the same Mitt Romney for not being conservative enough. Now, Mitt Romney really hasn't changed much in four years, but maybe Rush Limbaugh is the one doing the flip-flopping. Newt Gingrich has been relentlessly ripped as not being a conservative because he worked with Democrats in Congress. But one of the things that he worked with them to do was have a balanced budget and get people off welfare rolls and onto payrolls. Rick Santorum, whom you'll meet in a moment, is being called an extremist because he believes that marriage still means what it's always meant -- one man and one woman, a lifetime relationship. Only in the past few years would that position be considered out of the mainstream, and in fact, that position was the position espoused just four years ago by Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and yes, then-candidate Barak Obama.
So what does matter? Well, here's what I'm looking for in a candidate. My candidate has to believe that we are a nation of law, not of personality. Being President isn't being king and Presidents should accept the power, but also the limitations of being one of three equal branches of government. My candidate needs to honor all human life, and not because he's against the surgical procedure of abortion, but because he believes that every human being has value and worth. My candidate ought to believe that lower taxes are better than higher taxes, but you know what, keeping taxes low while you're running up debts on future generations, that's not conservative and it's not responsible, it's selfish. My candidate needs to believe that the best government is the most local government because it's closest to the people being governed. And he ought to believe that one of the few purposes of government is to secure and protect our borders and have a military strong enough that we don't have to use it because potential enemies are afraid that we might. And my candidate ought to believe that mothers and fathers raise better kids than governments do.
Now, could I support any of the candidates on the GOP side? Of course. Because my mirror on the wall says that compared to Obama, they are conservatives -- each and all.
I also want to say a salute to Michele Bachmann, who exited the race after Iowa, but not without exhibiting extraordinary class and dignity in the way that she did it. Throughout her campaign, she was a tough and smart competitor, but she showed one of her finest moments in the gracious and graceful way that she handled a tough loss. And I congratulate her for that.