Interviews

VP talk mounting for Romney camp

Mike Huckabee on potential running-mate picks

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," April 6, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: Marco Rubio is in the top tier, Chris Christie.

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Top of my list is Allen West. I love that he has that military experience.

MCCAIN: Bobby Jindal, Mitch Daniels.

ANN COULTER, AUTHOR: I’m a great fan of Chris Christie. I think he would be an excellent choice, or someone like Jon Kyl.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST OF "HANNITY": I like Senator Rubio.

PALIN: He's great, too. He is another one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": Veep talk mounting as Mitt Romney’s lead just keeps growing. If he clinches the number one spot, who would he pick for the number two spot?

To Mike Huckabee on this early combo guessing.

I guess it’s inevitable that we should get to this stage, but here we be, Governor. Prematurely or what do you think?

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: Very prematurely, Neil.

It’s part of the game. For the last, what, year-and-a-half we all have been focused on who is going to be the nominee. Even though it’s not settled, it certainly appears that Mitt Romney is on track to become the nominee. So now everybody says that horse race is over. Who is up in the second race? That is kind of what it is.

But it really doesn’t mean a lot. This is not a decision that is going to be made by pundits. It is not going to be made by analysts. It’s going to be made by the candidate, which is most likely going to be Mitt Romney. And he is going to make that decision based on a whole lot of factors.

And I doubt he is going to pay attention a talk show to figure out who is that going to be.

CAVUTO: You were insulting in many ways, Governor.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: Secondly...

HUCKABEE: But he might listen to you.

CAVUTO: We’re doing a segment on...

HUCKABEE: You would be the exception.

CAVUTO: We’re doing a segment on this, so if you could just play along.

HUCKABEE: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: But, in all seriousness, I don’t want you to have to necessarily reveal any secrets, but four years ago, when it looked like John McCain was wrapping up the race, I do remember your name coming up as among the running mate possibilities.

HUCKABEE: Yes.

CAVUTO: How far did that get? When the media starts talking about, oh, there be a McCain-Huckabee ticket or whatever, did it ever get to the point where either his people start wanting background reports or anything on you? Or how far did that get?

HUCKABEE: It didn’t even get off the launch pad. I never so much as got a call.

CAVUTO: Really?

HUCKABEE: There were so many people who were speculating that I was being vetted and that I was being considered.

It was the best kept secret in the world to me, if that ever happened.

(LAUGHTER)

HUCKABEE: So I was never on the list even to be considered.

CAVUTO: But you know the argument. You mentioned vetted, Governor.

And I’m wondering now, given the Sarah Palin experience, whether you were for or against her as a running mate, there is this great concern that Republicans fully vet who that person is. And that means that some of these candidates might be bigger risk of than others because in their states they may have been vetted, but it’s very different when the national media gets a crack at them.

HUCKABEE: It’s very important to have all the dirty laundry known beforehand. And the smartest thing any candidate does and the smartest thing that this campaign will do to look at a potential V.P. is always to investigate yourself. The first part of opposition research is not to actually research the opponent. It’s research yourself. Find out everything that is going to be used against you, whether it’s personal, whether it’s some policy decision you have made, whether it’s a speech in which you said some incendiary things.

All of that, you need to know, not because you can change it, but because you need to go ahead and know what is going to be used against you, have an answer for it, and when it’s brought up say, yes, we know all about it, no big deal, rather than look like the deer in the headlights, which often happens when a person hasn’t been fully vetted and then all of a sudden the first time that the public sees it, it’s on the front page and it may be too close to the election to fix.

CAVUTO: That is the argument for picking someone who has been in the race with the candidate or has been vetted in the national media that way.

It comes to mind with Ronald Reagan picking George Bush Sr. as his running mate, because they had been running against each other. Everyone had had it with the vice presidential pick before. Hence the argument, well, it’s got to be one of the guys running against him now or someone who has run for the office before we vetted. What do you make of that?

HUCKABEE: Well, it’s a plus, because if a person has been out there running for the past year or so, obviously people have already dug through about everything that can be I guess uncovered.

And that is a very big factor, because even the press doesn’t look goggle-eyed when they find out some kernel of truth, because they have already looked at it. They may put some new light on it, but it won’t be the October surprise that every campaign dreads and fears and prays doesn’t happen, but almost always does.

CAVUTO: Rick Santorum, of course, his little girl is back in the hospital and we wish her well.

But this is the same weekend he is taking off with his family amid some polls that show in his home state of Pennsylvania, he is not doing that well. That could change. But what should be a slam-dunk for him, winning his home state, at least appeared to be a little more than a couple of weeks ago, when he had double-digit leads, is not the case now.

Do you think that if he continues to see polls that look like that, he bows out?

HUCKABEE: I think he might.

If he really believed that he would lose his home state, he would understand that to do that would damage his brand, his own future, whether it’s to run for president in four years or whether it’s to write and speak and to take his platform that he has really established.

And a lot of people have become endeared to Rick Santorum for his convictions. But it would hurt him a lot if in the latter part of his campaign, he didn’t go out with a bang, but he went out with a bust. He can’t afford to do that. If he were to lose Pennsylvania, it would not be the way you would want to sort of start the next phase of your career. It truly would be disastrous.

So I think that very well may be the case. But one reason that candidates stay in a race longer than people think they ought to is because the day that they drop out of the race, they can’t raise any more money. They won’t raise any more money.

And if they got debt and they have got a lot of expenses out there, they may have to keep their campaign open, if for no other reason because they are going to try to close this thing out in the black, else they will go to the poor house trying to pay it off, because nobody wants to give you money the day that you have announced you are out of the race and you didn’t win.

If you win, you got no money problems. If you lose, you got money problems. It’s just that pure and simple. It’s a raw truth.

CAVUTO: But didn’t Barack Obama do a favor for Hillary Clinton events to help her pay down her campaign debt? I don’t know if there was a quid pro quo, probably not, but obvious the Obama folks wanted her to step out of the race.

And she did and by acclimation gave her delegates to him at the convention. I remember quite well. I was there. But would there be any sort of talking behind the scenes where a Romney person would tell a person for Santorum, look, we can help you with that debt?

HUCKABEE: There would never be the quid pro quo, you get out of the race and we will help you pay for your debt.

There would very, very likely be a conversation in the back channels, very deniable, where some people would discuss that, you know, if the senator does in fact abandon the campaign and comes out with a strong endorsement, I’m sure that the governor would come and do everything he can to help get that debt paid off and call some of his friends.

That is how it would be done. And would that be done? You better believe it would.

CAVUTO: Finally, on this running mate issue, if you will indulge me one final question, does Mitt Romney, assuming he’s nominee, have to pick a conservative?

HUCKABEE: Yes. I think he does. I think if he picks somebody that is going to be perceived as left of him, it would be disaster. And here is where it’s a disaster. It’s a disaster on turnout.

For example, 65 million evangelicals, self-identified evangelicals have to go to the polls to vote in vast numbers. And in 2010, half of them didn’t register. And of those, only half went and voted.

Every election over the past really 50 years has been decided by no more than 10 million votes. If Governor Romney does not pick someone that can excite and electrify the value voters, the conservatives, not just geographically the South -- it’s the Midwest and it’s all over the country -- if he doesn’t have someone who helps him to do that, it’s going to be very difficult to win the election because you’re going to have a number of people who just sit on their hands and don’t go.

CAVUTO: Which is even worse, if you think about it, not jazzed to do it.

HUCKABEE: Yes.

CAVUTO: All right, Governor, thank you very, very much.

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