OTR Interviews

Huckabee: Even If Egypt's Mubarak Stays, His Power Will Never Be the Same

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," January 28, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they're out of power. Once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others.

You must maintain your power through consent, not coercion. You must respect the rights of minorities and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise. You must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: President Obama speaking in Cairo, Egypt, 18 months ago and just about five months into his presidency. He was speaking about the critical issue of democracy in the region. The White House has long considered Egypt to be a strong U.S. ally. But with the recent uptick of anti-government violence, is it a real democracy?

Former governor Mike Huckabee joins us live from New York. Good evening, Governor. And what a tough -- tough problem this is tonight for our country and for the president, isn't it.

MIKE HUCKABEE, HOST, "HUCKABEE": It is, and it is for the whole world. I mean, this is a very delicate region of the country. The destabilization of Egypt could have extraordinary impact, far more than Tunisia.

I'm going to be in Israel starting tomorrow night, Greta, and one of the things that I noticed is that you have two relatively peaceful neighbors in both Jordan and Egypt. And as both of these nations start seeing unrest, it's going to cause an extraordinary sense of anxiety within the tiny nation of Israel, already surrounded by some folks who don't like them. And the cold peace that has existed is a very fragile peace and one that could be disrupted by what's going on in Egypt, and God help us, let's hope not Jordan.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, you said if we begin to see unrest in Egypt and Jordan. Actually, we have. I mean, this is unrest in this country. And no doubt there are some other countries that are probably very happy in the region to see lots of unrest and they're going to join in and cause all sorts of problems, like Iran, I imagine, would be very happy to stir up more problems for Israel. This really is a crisis. I don't know -- I don't know even -- I don't know how you contain it, what our country can do for this.

HUCKABEE: Well, I don't know that we can fix this. In part, we've been supportive of the -- really, the regime of the past 30 years, and we've done so because we've had the attitude that the devil we know is better than the devil we don't know. If you listened to what Robert Gibbs said today, and even the president's stance and that of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, they're being very careful, very cautious.

On one hand, they don't want to completely distance themselves from the regime that they've been friendly with. But they recognize that if that regime falls, they don't want to be in complete odds with whoever takes power. And they hope that this is really a fight for democracy and freedom, not a vote for a vacuum to be filled by jihadists. That would be the most hideous type of, I guess, outcome we could possibly see in Egypt.

VAN SUSTEREN: Except -- except it could be even worse. We could have a democracy, we could have an election in which the jihadists win, I mean, if you think about it. I mean, that would be a democratic result and a very un -- you know, a very unpleasant result for the rest of the world.

HUCKABEE: Well, I'm thinking of democracy more in terms of real freedom. One of the things we've seen in other parts of the world, for example, in the Soviet Union, when they started tasting Pepsi, wearing jeans and listening to Beatles music, they were never so satisfied with the authoritarian government and the totalitarianism that had so dominated their lives.

Because the communications are so different and even poor people are able to access a taste of the world that they never did before, let's just hope that the uprising is largely the discontent of unemployment, the lack of food -- Greta, 25 years ago, the first time I ever went to Egypt, what was so stark to me was the fact that you had extraordinary wealth and extraordinary, I mean, intense poverty and virtually nothing in between. And a long period of time without a strong middle class and extremes of both poverty and great wealth is a recipe for what we're seeing play out in the streets of Egypt even as we sit here tonight.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it certainly is apparent that President Mubarak doesn't get it because when he took to the television earlier today or tonight, depending on where you are when you watched he, he fired his cabinet, but I don't think he's listened to what the people on the street are saying. They say they want him out and they want a change of government, I think, you know, not just -- they want a whole clean slate. And if he thinks that it's enough to simply get rid of the cabinet, I think there are going to be a rough couple days coming.

HUCKABEE: I think you're exactly right. I believe firing the cabinet isn't exactly what those folks are in the streets are about. They probably don't even know who most of the cabinet members are. They do know Mubarak and they want him out. And it's going to be a tough thing. Only if he can keep control of the military does he have any hope of maintaining power. But obviously, his power, even if he holds onto it, will never be the same again after this uprising.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, safe travels to Israel. And hurry back.

HUCKABEE: Thank you.