President Obama's policies on everything from gun control to counterterrorism got hammered by the Republican candidates at Thursday's leadoff primary debate, with Mike Huckabee calling recently announced firearm regulations "completely insane."
“I promise you, I’ve been to more gun shows than President Obama," the former Arkansas governor said at the evening Fox Business Network debate -- claiming the gun show loophole, which allows people to buy firearms at gun shows without undergoing a background check, is a myth. "He keeps pushing ideas that never work.”
Huckabee also commented on the progress of the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan, saying he was skeptical about efforts to rebuild a country he likened to “the land of the Flintstones.”
Huckabee, who was responding to a question about whether the United States should continue to aid the Afghanistan government, said, “You can’t create for other people a desire for freedom and democracy.”
Huckabee was among three lower-polling Republican candidates debating at FBN's initial GOP 2016 presidential debate.
All of the candidates -- Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former HP tech executive Carly Fiorina -- slammed Obama’s foreign policy and said if they were in charge, they’d get results.
The candidates also answered questions about whether the government should rely on the private sector to help combat terrorism, deal with gun control and protect the middle class.
Huckabee called for a fair tax to “transform our economy” while Fiorina said the tax code needs reforming and that the government should be required to budget and answer for every dollar it spends.
“We have got to take our country back,” she said.
Fiorina took multiple jabs at Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton during the debate.
“Unlike another woman in this race, I actually love spending time with my husband,” Fiorina said during her opening remarks.
Fiorina said she has been told all her life to sit down and be quiet, and that's what the American people are being told now.
"I will not sit down and be quiet, and neither will you," she said.
Santorum also took his fare share of shots at Clinton and said he's the candidate who can beat her.
"I've taken on Hillary Clinton on the issues you care about," he said.
Huckabee and Santorum are the past two winners of the Iowa caucuses. Both have tried to once again tap into the strong evangelical base but have struggled in the 2016 environment.
Fiorina, whose standout performance in the very first lower tier debate bumped her up into the top tier of candidates, has seen her support wane in recent weeks.
Sen. Rand Paul qualified for the evening debate Thursday but refused to participate because he did not agree with the polling criteria used to determine which candidates would be in the earlier debate and those that would participate in the primetime event.
To qualify for the 9 p.m. debate, a candidate had to place in the top six in an average of recent national polls or in the top five in an average of recent Iowa or New Hampshire polls.