Interviews

Huckabee: Christie handled bridge controversy 'as well as anybody could'

Controversy raises questions over 2016

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," January 10, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, he has said he is sorry, but, in the end, will he be? Because, suddenly, Chris Christie's fast lane to the White House has hit some very serious road bumps.

And look who may be driving right past him waving. Why, it's our old buddy Mike Huckabee.

Could be. Could be. What do you think?

MIKE HUCKABEE, R-FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: I don't think so.

But I think Christie handled this as well as anybody could have.

CAVUTO: But you said, I don't think so.

I don't think you're running? What?

HUCKABEE: No, I'm just saying I think this is not about the derailing of Chris Christie's presidential aspirations.

CAVUTO: Do guys like this who could be running for president look at this and secretly say, well?

HUCKABEE: No, I don't think so.

CAVUTO: Really?

HUCKABEE: No, I don't think so, because he handled it very, very well. He did a classy job of owning up to the fact that it was some people that were in his employ.

He got rid of them, and he stood there and he took questions as long as the press could toss them out there. And I think that was an important thing for him to do.

CAVUTO: Charlie Gasparino just was here a little while ago, Governor, saying, way too long. It and went on and on and on.

HUCKABEE: That's the point.

CAVUTO: I see.

HUCKABEE: It was, and it's exactly what he needed to do, because if he would have left before the last question...

CAVUTO: Right.

HUCKABEE: ... someone would have said, yes, he was just trying to get out of there and dodge the questions.

Well, at an hour and seven minutes, nobody can say that, you know, he was dodging anything. He stood there.

CAVUTO: Yes, almost two hours when all was said and done, especially when they started asking, what's your favorite recipe? I thought that was kind of when we knew it was over.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: But this notion that he at least isn't such a sure thing. We have talked to him on prior shows, the governor, about how some of the big fund- raisers are -- are -- are just keeping the powder dry. Many who are sort of glomming on to the governor, they're not saying no to the governor. They're just not saying just the governor.

HUCKABEE: Well, I think what you need to remember, it's too early.

I know it's not too early for all the commentators and the pundits who like a good horse race, but I think we need to remember there is a little bump in the road between now and 2016. It's called the midterm elections. And we honestly need to get through those.

We need to put the focus on those, and especially Republicans need to put the focus, because they need to work on getting the Senate out of the hands of Harry Reid. They need to make sure that they don't lose any seats in the House, and gain seats in the House, and that they focus on some policies that are solutions to some of the issues Americans are facing, really go out there and communicate a message, and then be in a good position to win the White House.

Having a candidate...

CAVUTO: Yes, but I think you're such a good -- a good guy and a gentleman.

And you are. I think people on the right and left readily agree. You cannot tell me with a straight face that some of your colleagues in your party weren't doing a jig when it looked like Christie was imploding.

HUCKABEE: Oh, I think there may have been some people who are...

(CROSSTALK)

HUCKABEE: ... yes, excited about the prospect of running who thought that this might have derailed him.

CAVUTO: That he's tripping up.

HUCKABEE: Yes, well, of course that happens. I would be disingenuous...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Now, the Christie folks are saying this is such a short-lived thing, certainly by the end of this year, and certainly by the time the presidential race is under...

HUCKABEE: Absolutely.

CAVUTO: That this will be ancient news.

Do you think that's the case?

HUCKABEE: I think that's true.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Unless, unless...

HUCKABEE: Unless -- and here's the one thing that could really, really just end it all.

If it turns out that there was some communication, verbal, e-mail, phone call, that can be verified, not just an allegation, but verified that he did know more than he acknowledged knowing, then he's in real trouble. But there's no indication of that so far, none at all.

CAVUTO: We don't have -- right.

But let me ask you, have you ever fired, when you were governor, staff members and all that?

HUCKABEE: Sure.

CAVUTO: Do you ever come back to bite...

(CROSSTALK)

HUCKABEE: I should have fired a few more, quite frankly.

CAVUTO: Well, but I always wondered -- and I was wondering as he was really unloading on these people he had -- he had dumped, that when it's their time to testify, or they're going to say, they're not going to forget how he humiliated them in public and they're going to come back to bite him, aren't they?

HUCKABEE: The one thing that I wondered about, seriously, was that he cut them no slack.

And I think that may be a problem. If they want to sort of get their day in court and have their own pound of flesh, they may in fact invoke that moment when it comes their time to take stage. But they may also decide that their long-term interests, their career interests are far better served if they just keep their mouths shut and quietly lay low for a while.

They're obviously skilled people. Someone else will want their skills.

(CROSSTALK)

HUCKABEE: And they don't want to mess up their future...

CAVUTO: Gotcha.

HUCKABEE: ... just to get a little retribution.

CAVUTO: Governor Mike Huckabee.

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