Interviews

Huckabee: Administration 'ot of touch' with working class

Reaction to falling consumer confidence

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," August 16, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Overall retail sales holding pretty steady. Auto sales doing a little bit better, but that does mean that shoppers are feeling steady. Didn't we find out this week? Consumer sentiment falling from a six-year high in August.

Count companies like Wal-Mart and JoS. A. Bank and Nordstrom at least worried. Wal-Mart says that payroll tax hike is still stinging and a lot of its customers just ain't shopping.

Mike Huckabee finds none of this at all surprising.

But it is beginning to look more and more like a trend. You don't want to say across the broad, because there's always exceptions, auto sales chief among them, but could it be?

MIKE HUCKABEE, R-FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: Well, I think it is.

In Wal-Mart in their investor call this week told everybody their earnings were not going to be up to expectations. And that's a real key indicator of where the consumers are. And the reason is not because consumers are just afraid. They're broke. They don't have money. If you don't have money, you can't spend it, unlike the government. It doesn't have money either, but it goes ahead and spends it.

But consumers are a more accurate indicator of where the economy is, and remember the Wal-Mart shoppers. These are not the high-end shoppers. These are not the people who are necessarily going to the most expensive place on Fifth Avenue. These are the folks who are buying shampoo and soap and toilet paper and things they got to have. And they're looking at ways to cut back and buying the discount brands because they're having to stretch their dollar. They're not making more money than they made last year, but their costs are up. Energy, education for their kids, food costs, all are up. So they're actually having less money, a net loss.

That's serious for families right now.

CAVUTO: Normally, I would say, all right, Wal-Mart, your troubles are of your own making because some lower-end retailers, even lower -- Costco, Dollar Store, they're doing OK, maybe speaking to your price-conscious shopper.

So, I would look at the higher end and then, lo and behold, I fine out Nordstrom, they are going to have to fire more than the piano player because on the high end they're feeling it, and Nordstrom gives a very conservative forecast.

Do you think we reenter a recession or that the improvement we have seen just stops, or is this much ado about nothing, it will stabilize, we have these blips, what?

HUCKABEE: Oh, I think it's here for a while, in part because the payroll tax hike that Wal-Mart cites is one thing.

But look at ObamaCare and the effect. Everybody is trying to figure out how to do part-time employees. Who goes shopping, whether it's at Wal-Mart or Nordstrom? I'm not saying Nordstrom people will go to part-time and they're the ones who are working the counter at the Dairy Queen, but the Wal-Mart shoppers are the people who had full-time jobs, a lot of them have part-time jobs.

CAVUTO: Very good point. Very good point.

HUCKABEE: And they don't have the same level of income because they have lost benefits and now they will have to pay the penalties and suck it up and get ObamaCare.

And even people who may not have felt the full impact, they're scared to death they're about to, because they keep hearing, Florida is going up 35 percent on health care, 41 percent in Ohio. Every state that reports, with the exception of New York, they're talking about figures that go from 30 to 200 percent increase in health care costs.

CAVUTO: The president's people say it's Republicans just creating much ado about nothing, way exaggerating.

HUCKABEE: Phony scandal.

CAVUTO: Exactly.

HUCKABEE: Right.

No, it's not a phony scandal. And that shows how out of touch the president's people are with working-class people. People who work hard, who come home at the end of the day, who aren't living off the government teat, the people who actually have to bring home whatever money they have earned by working all day and coming home bone-tired, bone-tired with an empty lunch box, those are the people that I don't think this administration understands, has a connection with.

CAVUTO: You know, I always find when I talk to you, Governor, whether people agree or disagree with you, you are amazingly articulate presenting a view.

And I'm looking at the guys who are running up to Iowa right now ,if you don't mind switching to politics.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: And I take nothing against them, and they're all -- obviously the weather is nice this time of year, and -- but they're all up there very early, it seems to me.

HUCKABEE: Yes.

CAVUTO: Are you tempted?

HUCKABEE: You know, I don't know whether I am or not at this point. I think it's too early. I think everybody is acting like that this is the election. We have a whole cycle ahead of us.

CAVUTO: Well, it's our own fault, probably the media's fault, probably my fault. It's all my fault.

(CROSSTALK)

HUCKABEE: A lot of it is the media's fault.

CAVUTO: Yes.

HUCKABEE: Because we like a horse race, and we just want to go ahead and put one together even if there's not one to be had.

And I think, frankly, the people who are going out early and pretending to be candidates -- or maybe they are candidates -- will regret it, because what happens is, they're going to wear out their sense of new. They're going to be the fresh meat. The sell-by date is going to expire, and then people will be starting to look for, well, there is anyone else? That's what happens every cycle. And the earlier it gets...

CAVUTO: Well, that is what happened to you, though, right? You were toiling away there unknown. You weren't a slacker. You were a governor.

But you were not known.

HUCKABEE: No.

CAVUTO: And the attention was on the likes of the John McCains and the Mitt Romneys and all.

HUCKABEE: And Giuliani.

CAVUTO: Absolutely. Oh, sure, sure. You were nowhere on that list, no offense.

HUCKABEE: Right. Thank you. Thank you very much.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But then you rocketed. No, seriously, then you rocketed.

And I guess what I'm asking you is, there's this battle back and forth whether we're focused too much on those star names, whether it's the Chris Christies, or the Marco Rubios, or the Rand Pauls, and we're missing something, missing someone.

HUCKABEE: It could be -- we are. It could any one of those guys.

But I would say that the ones that you're hearing the most about now are probably President Giuliani, President Fred Thompson, President Mitt Romney, i.e., 2008, President John McCain, because when you go out too early and the familiarity, which breeds contempt, as you know, people then start looking.

CAVUTO: Right.

HUCKABEE: When it really gets down to the game, they're thinking, is anybody else on the bench? We have seen what you have got. Who else is out there?

CAVUTO: See, that's what I argue, Governor, and people think I'm crazy, that there's this foregone conclusion on the Democratic side it's Hillary, Hillary, Hillary. And I remember 2008. It was Hillary, Hillary, Hillary, and then Barack Obama came by.

And I know the argument, well, there's no one of that heft considering challenging Hillary Clinton right now if it comes to pass. But we didn't know he had that heft and we didn't know others down the pike didn't have the heft even going forward here.

So, I'm saying those who jump to the conclusion it's going to be Hillary, it's way too early to peak. So, wouldn't you be worried if you were Hillary Clinton on the Democrats side?

HUCKABEE: I would. I would, because everybody is going to be putting a target on her.

She's going to walk around. And because she is the presumptive Democratic nominee, she is the one that has to defend herself. And that person who is out there, who is not talking to you and me, but they're talking to their spouse and to their closest friends, they're a Democrat and they'd really like to run, I guarantee you they're thinking of all the...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But there were a lot of crazies who probably told you this is McCain's your race to lose, Governor. What are you bothering with?

HUCKABEE: Oh, yes, of course.

CAVUTO: But you entered nonetheless.

So, your advice to those who might look at challenging Hillary Clinton, but find it a futile mission, is what?

HUCKABEE: Go for it, because here's the thing. Who knows what stumble she may have? The one thing you can be sure of in a race is that the one way you can guarantee you're not going to win is not to enter or to quit. That's the way that you know you can't win.

So if you're really serious about it, get out there. But here's the thing. Don't get out there so early that you become an old, worn-out shoe before the time when you need to be walking.

CAVUTO: I like that.

HUCKABEE: Does that work as a metaphor?

CAVUTO: Sure. I'm going to run with that and make it my own.

HUCKABEE: Yes, please do.

CAVUTO: Governor, can't wait to see you this weekend, his hit show. He's building up that attention. See what I mean?

HUCKABEE: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: It's a plot. All right.

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