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OTR Interviews

Huckabee: Unprecedented for a pope to weigh in on election

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 18, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight, ON THE RECORD, you better not mess with Donald Trump. Apparently, even if you are the pope.

The pope launching the first attacks against Trump suggesting he is not a Christian. Here's exactly what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POPE FRANCIS (Through translator): A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be and not building bridges is not Christian. This is not in the gospel. This man is not Christian if he said things like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Trump almost immediately launching a return attack right back at Pope Francis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS's ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president.

Donald Trump is a very nice person. And I'm a very -- I am a very nice person.

(APPLAUSE)

And I'm a very good Christian, because the pope said something to the effect that maybe Donald Trump isn't Christian, OK? And he was questioning my faith. I was very surprise to see it, but I am a Christian.

For a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful. I'm proud to be a Christian. And as president, I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened unlike what is happening now with our current president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Former GOP presidential candidate and former pastor, Governor Mike Huckabee goes ON THE RECORD.

Good evening, sir.

FORMER GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: Hi, Greta. Great to be with you tonight.

VAN SUSTEREN: And let me see, is it correct to say former pastor or once a pastor, always a pastor, I suppose.

HUCKABEE: Well, I don't know. I mean, it's been 30 years. So I guess, you know, if I still carry the label, that's fine with me. Certainly a practicing believer and somebody who is faithful to my church.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, let me ask you about the controversy that is gripping not just the nation, but even the BBC has. It has headlines and that's that Pope Francis suggests that Donald Trump is not Christian because of his harshness of his campaign promises to deport more immigrants illegally here and the issue about building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.

So what do you think about that?

HUCKABEE: Well, it's just absolutely stunning. I don't ever remember in my lifetime that a pope has ever injected himself into the specifics of an American presidential election and specifically calling out of a candidate.

In this case what makes it so remarkable, number one is, that all of the GOP. candidates have called for a secure border. Every last one of them. And so why did the pope just single out Donald Trump?

Secondly, three of the candidates are Catholic. And I think it's going to be interesting to find out will they say I disagree with my pope on this one? But, there is another issue, Greta. I mean, I have been to the Vatican. There is a big wall that surrounds the Vatican. I'm wondering when the pope gets back home, is he going to take that down and say we don't build walls anymore?

Look, Nehemiah built a wall. Jerusalem had a wall around it in the time of the kings, and it was ordered by God to be built as a way of protection. I don't know what the pope thinks a country should do if it doesn't protect its borders and protect its people. That's what a country does. And a country without a border is not even a country anymore.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is there -- how do you think it will effect, if it will impact at all the evangelical vote in South Carolina?

HUCKABEE: Well, you know, all I know is that every time, there is a controversy surrounding Donald Trump, his numbers go up. And to be singled out by the pope, gives him a level of attention that I don't ever recall primary GOP candidate having and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if his numbers don't go up because what it does, it points out what Donald Trump has said about immigration.

That he's going to take the strongest stand and I guess the pope must decide and must agree that he is taking the strongest stand because he singled him out of all the candidates even though every last one of them have said that they were going to do the same thing Donald Trump was going to do. The only difference is Donald Trump said he will make Mexico pay for it, but all the candidates have said that they would secure the border.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do the Catholic candidates do in the GOP Do they just ignore this one and look the other way. Or do they take it head on and either take the Trump side or the pope side? What do they do?

HUCKABEE: Well, that's the question. And I think they are going to be in a real pickle, if you will, if they try to take the pope's side and said no, we shouldn't be building that wall because then they are going to lose a significant support within the Republican base that absolutely believes that one of the few things that a country has a responsibility to do is to protect its citizens, secure its borders.

And if a country doesn't do that and we haven't been doing it, and it's one of the reasons that there is such a seething rage among the voters this year is they feel like that we have allowed cheap labor to come in, take American jobs. Nobody seems to notice, at least not the financiers on Wall Street that there are a lot of working-class Americans who have been gut- punched by an open immigration policy. And there are a lot of families who have been the victims of violence.

I mean, Kate Steinle is a great example of someone who ought to be alive today, but she isn't because we didn't do a good job of taking care of our own borders and Americans are sick of it.

They just say, look, if the government isn't going to do its most fundamental job, then let's get rid of this government and get us a new one. And that's why we are seeing this very disruptive election cycle this time.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, nice to see you. And the headline I always save for these days are never dull. Anyway, nice to see you, sir.

HUCKABEE: Thank you, Greta. Have a great weekend.