LITTLE ROCK – Former President Bill Clinton could be owed an apology by some Republicans if they don't take character issues in candidates' personal lives seriously in the upcoming presidential election, former Gov. Mike Huckabee says.
Without naming names, the GOP presidential hopeful complained that some in his party — particularly Christian evangelicals — "talk as if, in this election cycle, Republican candidates aren't going to be held to a standard of personal accountability and responsibility for their personal lives."
"If that's true, there are going to be a lot of Republicans who will owe Bill Clinton a great big public apology," Huckabee said. "We can't have a set of rules that we apply to Democrats that we don't apply to ourselves.
"If we apply a different set of rules, then we have exposed one of the greatest levels of hypocrisy in the last generation of politics." Huckabee said.
Huckabee, a Southern Baptist minister who left office in January, shares the hometown of Hope with the former president, who also served as Arkansas' governor. Huckabee supports "covenant marriages" in which divorces are more difficult to obtain.
GOP rivals Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain have each been divorced. Huckabee and Clinton have not. Clinton's wife, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.
Huckabee was asked during a conference call with reporters what role character would play in the presidential race. In addition to not talking about GOP candidates specifically, he did not mention Clinton's inappropriate relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
The House impeached Clinton but the Senate acquitted him.
Huckabee said Republicans not paying attention to the personal lives of their own candidates "would be troubling because that inconsistency would show it really wasn't about principles. It was about personality, character assassination and politics."
Huckabee, who formed a presidential exploratory committee in January, said this summer he was re-releasing his first book, which focused on character, as a paperback with some new material. Before he formed his exploratory committee in late January, Huckabee published a book focusing on various policy issues.
Huckabee denied that the book showed he was not taking his presidential campaign seriously, and said there was little work he did in updating the book.
"I'm taking the presidential campaign very seriously, as evidenced by the wear and tear on my body over the last few months," said Huckabee, an avid runner who had competed in four marathons.