Mike Huckabee opens up about family, faith and freedom

This is a rush transcript from "Life, Liberty & Levin," July 22, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARK LEVIN, HOST: Hello, America, I'm Mark Levin. This is "Life, Liberty & Levin." I have great guest. Governor Huckabee, how are you my friend.

MICHAEL HUCKABEE, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ARKANSAS: I'm doing great, Mark, honored to be with you.

LEVIN: And likewise, likewise. Not everybody knows who you are. But let me just give a little background. Michael Dale Huckabee, you are an American politician, we know. A Christian minister, author, you were a radio host for a period of time, no?


LEVIN: Commentator obviously. You are the 44th Governor of Arkansas. You were a governor for quite a long time.

HUCKABEE: Almost 11 years.

LEVIN: Almost 11 years. Prior to your political career, you served as a pastor, when?

HUCKABEE: It's been almost 30 years ago, it was a period of time about eleven and a half years and my first career was actually broadcasting -- radio, television -- I ran an ad agency, and then it's kind of a long story, but the short version is I ended up being a pastor, which was a wonderful part of my life, because it was a school. It was graduate school in humanity. Because when you're a pastor, you see every social pathology that exists in our culture. Up close and personal, and every single issue that is faced by the people of our nation, you can put a name and a face on it, because you're dealing with people from birth to death, the best and the worst moments of their lives and you have a perspective of everything from poverty to the challenges of health care. There's nothing you don't see.

LEVIN: Did you launch from being a pastor right into politics? How did you get into politics?

HUCKABEE: I always thought I would do that, when I was even a teenager, and I thought that was going to be my career path, and even when I was doing communications in radio and advertising, I thought one day, "I'm going to run for office," but I needed a career first. I needed to experience life before I try to shape it for other people. And when I went into being a pastor, quite frankly, Mark, I thought that prospect is gone. Nobody would ever accept somebody who's coming from a pastoral background into politics, but I came believe that it was a terrific preparation, better than being a lawyer or insurance executive or whatever.

And so long, thoughtful process, and I said, let's do it, that was back in 1991. My first race was for the US Senate. I lost. I ran the next year in '93.

LEVIN: Now, back in '91, Arkansas was heavily Democrat, right?

HUCKABEE: It wasn't heavily Democrat, it was Democrat. It was the most lopsided state in the country, more than Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, Oregon, California. When I became lieutenant governor in 1993, the legislature was 90% Democrat. In the Senate, for example, there were four out of the 35 members of the Senate who were Republican, and frankly, those four were a little suspect.

My door was nailed shut on the day I was sworn in as lieutenant governor at the State Capitol. Sworn in at the order of Web Hubbell who working at the White House for Clinton at the time, and they were so angry that a Republican had been elected during Bill Clinton's first year as President, that they just said, "You've got to stop this guy." So my door was nailed shut and stayed nail shut for 59 days until finally, there was such a public outcry, they took the nails out of the door. People think that is a apocryphal story, it honestly happened.

LEVIN: Lieutenant Governor in 1993, you became governor when?

HUCKABEE: I became Governor in 1996, when Jim Guy Tucker who was the governor was convicted of Whitewater related felonies, he was shown the door, and I went through the door and by this time, the nails were clearly gone. It was a very tumultuous time in Arkansas politics in history. And here I was only the fourth Republican to be elected to a state-run office in 150 years, first in 25 years, and now the state's got a Republican governor following the conviction of their Democrat governor.

It t was a very, very challenging time, but it was also the greatest period of my life. I mean, it was an extraordinary opportunity to do things completely differently than had been done for so long under Bill Clinton who had been governor a long time, and then Jim Guy Tucker who really only got to serve a little over two years.

LEVIN: Do you have much dealings with the Clintons while you were governor?

HUCKABEE: Yes, I did, actually. I always liked Bill Clinton. He and I had a good personal relationship, disagreed strongly philosophically on issues, but you've been around him. He's impossible not to like in terms of his gregarious nature. Didn't have such a warm, fuzzy relationship with Hillary, to be honest with you. I'm not sure anybody of my party ever has, but even when Clinton was President and I was Governor, I had a very good working relationship with him, and I will say in fairness, Bill Clinton was a terrific President for all governors, including all the Republican governors who, if they were honest, and maybe not on the record, would tell you, that they got more cooperation from the Clinton White House as Republican governors than they did from the Bush White House.

LEVIN: Why do you think that is?

HUCKABEE: There was an attitude that Bill Clinton, who had been a governor and loved the job, recognized that governors really were the front line of policy. He knew that Washington didn't really get things done, and he understood that if you wanted a laboratory of government, just like the founders really understood the states to be, this is where you attempt things, you try and you innovate.

And he was willing to let Republican governors try things. Welfare reform came out of the states. It didn't come out of Washington. There were things that we did in children's health care in Arkansas that preceded the idea of S-CHIP. But the way we wanted to build it was that it required paying, it wasn't just a welfare program where you get 100% of your benefits for free.

You had a premium, you had a co-pay, you had a deductible. Why is that important? Because if people have skin in the game, they take a totally different attitude towards something than if it's all free and they don't care whether it costs $1,000.00 or $100.00.

Those are the kind of innovations that you could you do at the state level and to his credit, as President, Clinton said, "Give it a shot."

LEVIN: And George W. Bush was much more difficult?

HUCKABEE: He was and he a good guy to deal with. You never could get to him. He had such a palace guard, and great people, but they protected him and for them everything was whether it was good for him politically, not whether or not it was actually good in the policies of the state.

LEVIN: And then you decided at some point to run for President.

HUCKABEE: That was a brilliant idea, Mark, but it didn't turn out real well...

LEVIN: Well, you know what? 2012 was rather bruising -- the Republican primary. What happed then?

HUCKABEE: Well, that was the one I set out. A lot of people said I should have gone into that. I mean, I ran in '08.

LEVIN: Right, right, that's what I meant.

HUCKABEE: It was a tough time. We had just gone through eight years of President Bush, his approval ratings were very low at this point. It was going to be difficult to win.

LEVIN: By the way, you are a very nice guy. See how he did, that folks, I got the date wrong, he said that's what I said, but let me tell you the one. Go ahead, I'm sorry.

HUCKABEE: Well, a lot of people thought I should have run in '12, but I really -- it was not a good time for me at that time and there were a lot of reasons why, but in '08, I felt like the Republican Party had become stodgy, I felt that it was losing touch with working class Americans. It did not have leaders that had a common connection to the kind of people I grew up with.

Mark, I grew up dirt-poor in South Arkansas. I'm the first male in my entire family lineage to graduate high school much less go to college. For me, the American dream is not something I read about from someone else, I've lived it. My dad was one of the Americans like a lot of fathers who raise kids that he lifted heavy things. He worked hard, he got his hands dirty. That's the only jobs he ever knew.

I felt like those were the people that Republicans, their policies would help the most if we implemented them, but we acted like they didn't exist, and the result long-term was that the economic policies of true conservatism and capitalism, really bringing people to a point of liberty, where they were not forever completely enslaved to their group, but they were looked at as individuals, me this is the fundamental difference between conservatives and liberals.

Liberals believe you're in a group, you have to stay in your group, don't leave your group. And if the group does okay, you could do okay. Conservatives believe that our liberty is individual, it's God-given to each person. There are no limits except the limits I'm willing to place on myself because I just refuse to accept the freedom that I've been given, and so I felt like in '08 that we were missing the opportunity, and we were a great party, if you were sitting in the corner office, but we were not a good party if you were standing on the concrete floor eight hours a day lifting heavy things and going home and having to take a shower before your wife lets you sit at the table.

LEVIN: And you did pretty well in the primary, really, didn't you?

HUCKABEE: Yes, I came in second to McCain. I was the runner up to John McCain in '08, so -- and on a dime to the dollar of what McCain and Mitt Romney had.

LEVIN: And 2016, that was a big field.


LEVIN: But one of the things I noticed during that primary was you never took a shot at Trump.


LEVIN: You ran on your message and that was pretty much it. Why was that?

HUCKABEE: Well, first of all, Donald Trump was not my enemy. He was not even really my opponent. I looked at it that one of us on that stage was going to face Hillary Clinton. I thought I'd be the right guy. I knew her better than anybody on that stage, known her 40 years. People decided differently, I respect that, you know, that's what you do in an election.

But why would I go and attack one of the other people on that stage? Because if they won, then I was going to have to go to the convention stage and tell everybody how great they would be as President after just telling them they would be terrible. At some point that doesn't make sense to me. Those were not the people that I was trying to oppose.

Secondly, I may not be the smartest bulb in the chandelier but I'm bright enough to know this that if you attack Donald Trump, he's going to come back at you and he's going to hit you harder than you ever hit him, and when you're ready to give up in the fight, he isn't, and he keeps clubbing you until you are unconscious and in a coma and can't come out of it.

And so I watched all the guys on the stage, they go after Trump. And the next thing you know, they get a nickname they're stuck with the rest of their lives. He pummels them and the press love it so much that they just give him more airtime, so I thought, "I've seen this movie, it doesn't end well."

LEVIN: But you also liked him?

HUCKABEE: I like Donald Trump. I personally like the man and that surprised a lot of people because we couldn't be more different. I'm a kid that grew up dirt-poor in South Arkansas. He grew up in New York and he's a street fighter from Queens and he's lived the life of a billionaire. I've never met many billionaires. Yes, we're as different as night and day, but there's things that I admired about him. I admired his candor, his transparency, and quite frankly, one of the things that I've admired about him, is that he did not get where he is politically in the normal way of being beholden to all the special interests who completely own most of the politicians in Washington, and that's why nothing changes.

Democrats get elected, things stay the same. Republicans get elected, things stay the same. Because the same people who are throwing dollar bills at the Democrats are throwing dollar bills at the Republicans and the Democrats alike and get the same policies over and over. Trump has upset this whole, this cabaret, if you will, and has changed the tune so dramatically, that's why I really believe he's the right man for the right time.

LEVIN: We'll get into this more extensively, but it's for these reasons, isn't it, that he's under attack because he's not one of the crowd, because he is a true outsider because he doesn't need their money, he doesn't need their lobbyists, he doesn't need any of the infrastructure or the establishment?

HUCKABEE: It's absolutely one of the main reasons. They can't control him. They can't tell him to quit. They can't tell him what to say, when to say it, how to say it, where to say it. And look, there are times when Donald Trump says some intemperate things, sometimes, I just go, "Oh, that's going to be a problem." Or times when he steps on his own good news, I get that.

But what I admire is that here's a guy who is doing exactly what he said. He said he was going to cut taxes and he has and the economy is booming. He said he was going to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the embassy and he's done it. He said he was going to be tough with NATO and tell them that either pay up or we bug out, and he's done it, and they're doing it.

I look at what he's getting done, and I'm far more impressed with what he's getting done than I am bothered by anything he tweets or says.

LEVIN: We're going to expand on this in a moment. Ladies and gentlemen, don't forget, during the course of the week, you can watch me on LevinTV as part of the CRTV Television Network. That's crtv.com. Give us a call, join up, go to 844-LEVIN-TV. Give us a dial. 844-LEVIN-TV. We'll be right back.

Governor Mike Huckabee, you brought up the President and his promise to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the embassy. Past Presidents have said that, they've not done it. It's actually the law that was passed in 1996, but they could waive it every six months. This President said, "Enough is enough." You're very popular in Israel, and it's well known in the United States that your support for Israel is considerable. Why is that?

HUCKABEE: My first trip there was in 1973 when I was 17 years old. I fell in love with Israel as a teenager, and I've been taking groups of people since 1981. I've seen this country come alive in a way that I can only imagine the frontier days of America.

Biblically, I could say it this way, the dry bones have come alive, and the desert is blooming, and literally places that I saw as abject desert now are lush with vegetation that exports fruits and vegetables across the world. But Israel is a very special place. As a person of faith for me, Israel is not just another piece of real estate; maybe the most hotly contested piece of real estate on earth, but it has Biblical dimensions, Biblical connections and that's important to me.

I think the title deed goes all the way back to Abraham. So to see a President recognize the rightful home of the Jewish people and the Jewish state and Jerusalem as its capital, and by the way, Jerusalem has only been capital to one people in the history of the earth, and that's to the Jews. So it's important to me that we respect that, and ...

LEVIN: It's a part of your faith?

HUCKABEE: It's a part of my faith.

LEVIN: As an evangelical Christian.

HUCKABEE: Absolutely. And I've had this conversation with the President before he made the decision, and I told him, I said "Mr. President, there are two things that evangelicals ..." who by the way, were the basis for him being elected, overwhelmingly like 75%, 80% of evangelicals voted for Donald trump, and still support him and that surprised a lot of people.

But they like someone who sticks by the black and the white, or the right and the wrong and what they stand for. So Donald Trump, and I had this conversation, and I said to him, "Mr. President, there are two things evangelicals consider nonnegotiable -- the sanctity of human life, and the second thing is unwavering commitment to the sovereignty of Israel as a Jewish state." And he kind of was surprised by that, and I said, "Mr. President, we're people of the book, and we believe that if God has made a promise, He's going to keep it, and one of the promises is that nations that bless Israel will be blessed and those who curse Israel will be cursed," and I just believe that when Donald Trump made this decision, and he was under so much pressure not to do it, Mark, and you know that, you know this very well -- pressure from within the country, pressure from all over the world and world leaders.

And later after he had done it, had the opportunity to say, "What was the deciding force?" He said, "Because it was the right thing to do and I said I was going to do it." I was so refreshed by a President who is able to say it's the right thing to do, and I said I was going to do it. I haven't seen that commitment since Ronald Reagan, and I think a lot of people support Donald Trump because of it, no matter what his critics say, you can't take that from him.

LEVIN: Speaking of his critics, they're getting more and more out there.


LEVIN: Crazier by the day. We're about the same age. I would read George Wells Cohen religiously, great thinker, great columnist, but I don't read them anymore unless somebody hands them to me. This sad, embarrassing wreck of a man, "Washington Post," George Wells, and starts out -- first three words, "America's child President," and I stop there and I said, "This isn't rational thinking," when you look at what the President has done economically, you can disagree with certain aspects, I might disagree much with him, but I also have a lot of agreements with him when it comes to judges and taxes and regulations, he abides by the Constitution, which say big deal to me.

Look at his foreign policy, when it comes to Israel, when it comes to the Iran deal, when it comes to being tough on the North Korea, we still have military assets off the peninsula. and even though he calls Xi his friend, he's tough on the Chinese and he has been much tougher on Russia than Obama could ever have dreamed of.

HUCKABEE: Much more so.

LEVIN: What is this? "America's child President." They don't like the way he talks? They don't like the way he looks? They don't like the New York accent? What is the problem here?

HUCKABEE: It's personal with these guys. It's personal, but the vitriol is unhinged. It has no rational, no normal kind of basis, it's just that they cannot accept that Donald Trump won the presidency in November '16. I try to say to folks, "Look, I ought to be more bitter than you, I was one of the guys that put my life on the line for this." But I tell everybody, Donald Trump was not my first choice for President. I was my first choice for President. But he was my second choice and I unabashedly say that and I am proud to support him.

And part of what I admire is that there is this sort of bull in the China shop torpedo, full speed ahead torpedo be damned, let's go, I like that. I like that we have a President who has instincts and he follows them and he's not dissuaded by people who are always putting some strings on him and telling him who he is going to upset. Clearly, he's upset a lot of people in the Potomac world.

LEVIN: You think it's a cultural battle even within the conservative movement?

HUCKABEE: Without a doubt.

LEVIN: What is that?

HUCKABEE: It is resentment. It's resentment. There are a lot of people, and I don't think they even see this, but their world is about getting invited to the nice cocktail parties in Georgetown. Their world is about being part of the swells, but they live in the bubbles. And I say there's three big bubbles in America, New York, Washington, Hollywood, maybe a fourth, Silicon Valley.

People living in those bubbles don't know the rest of America. They think they do, but they don't. They resent the rest of America. They think they're better than the rest of America. We're the basket of deplorables, we are the people who are the great unwashed, but Donald Trump understands that the great unwashed people, people like me, who grew up more comfortable working in the kitchen than sitting at a head table, that we're the people that actually gave this country its strength, its roots and raised the kids that went to war and won battles.

I don't think they get that, but there's an anger and a resentment and it's personal, it's not political. It's one thing to argue with Donald Trump about maybe his style, even argue with him certainly about policies that you disagree with, but when you have people on major networks that say that anyone who supports trump is a Nazi, like the nut case Donny Deutsch said.

LEVIN: MSNBC on the Scarborough's show.

HUCKABEE: Scarborough said that anybody who supported him was a racist. That's unhinged, Mark, that's unhinged.

LEVIN: So this cultural battle even within the conservative movement, you think it's because he came out of nowhere and they didn't have a say in it? Do you think it's because he truly is an outsider? Do you think it's because of what he says and the way he says it? Because his policies, they are not left-wing policies, they're not anti-American policies, they're not -- and many of his policies actually are Reaganesque. Not all, but many. And some of these people who backed Reagan or backed bush, and so forth and so on, they are over the top hostile to Trump.

HUCKABEE: They don't own him. They don't control him. They don't get to pick up the phone and call him and say, "Got a favor, and don't forget I gave you the money to get you elected." He doesn't owe them anything, and I truly believe that one of the strengths of his presidency is that he can tell them all to go to the devil, and there's not really a whole lot they can do about it.

LEVIN: Ladies and gentlemen, don't forget, almost every week night, you can check me out on Levin TV by going to crtv.com or you can give us a call at 844-LEVIN-TV. 844-LEVIN TV. We'd love you to join our community over there. We'll be right back.

LAUREN GREEN, CORRESPONDENT, FOX NEWS: Live from "America's News Headquarters," I'm Lauren Green. President Hassan Rouhani of Iran is warning President Trump to make peace with Tehran. The Trump administration has threatened new sanctions against Iran and called on other countries to stop buying Iranian oil following the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. Rouhani warned the US saying quote, "Peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars."

Salvage operations to recover the sunken duck boat in Branson, Missouri will begin Monday morning. The Coast Guard will oversee the operation. Once it is brought to the surface, the boat will be under the custody of the National Transportation Safety Board for investigation. Seventeen people were killed when the boat sank to the bottom of the Table Rock Lake during a storm last Thursday. I'm Lauren Green, now back to "Life, Liberty & Levin."

LEVIN: I don't know who the most famous Huckabee is right now. You or your daughter?

HUCKABEE: I think it's my daughter.

LEVIN: It's your daughter?


LEVIN: And Sarah Huckabee Sanders.


LEVIN: And she's become somewhat of a very popular figure within the conservative movement and the Republican Party because she stands up there every day and deals with these reporters, particularly from CNN Jim Acosta and so forth, but also the Washington Correspondents' Dinner which was really quite awful, her experience at a restaurant in rural Virginia and other members of your family and so forth.

First of all, tell us a little bit about your daughter and tell us what she confronts in her daily life, as her father?

HUCKABEE: Well, first of all, I tell people we finally got a Huckabee in the White House. It just wasn't the one I think -- thought it was going to be. I'm very proud of Sarah. I'm proud of all my children, but Sarah obviously is one that now is more famous, more popular and more beloved, and rightfully so. She's a tough kid.

I like to say the force is strong in this one. But this is a young lady who grew up in a political household. When most kids were jumping rope, she was sitting around the kitchen table listening to Dick Morris do cross tabs of polls. She's been swallowed up and consumed in the political world since she was a tiny girl, and as a result, there's not anything she sees that is a shock to her. She's been there and done that.

I think in this White House, it's certainly intense in a way that we've never seen before, but she's got a very calm demeanor, and I think that's what people admire, whether it's sitting at the Correspondents' Dinner and have someone just intentionally try to destroy her, she maintained dignity and grace or whether it's at the podium every day where people try to accuse her of all sorts of things, and try to take her podium away from her, she never lets that happen, but she does it in a calm way, doesn't escalate the tension, but she knows how to just say, "We're not going there."

LEVIN: As her father, and your wife as her mother, it must give you great pains to watch this.

HUCKABEE: I take more of a pride than a pain, and I'll tell you what, I watch her and when somebody asks some stupid question, my thought is not, "I can't believe they said it," I'm sitting back saying, "You're about to get your rear handed to you. You just don't know it." And sure enough, that's what typically happens because I know that she's tough and I've always said when a southern woman begins or ends a sentence with these three words whether it's literally said or figurative and they say, "Bless your heart," you're about to be gutted like a deer, you just don't know it.

LEVIN: Thanksgiving Dinner. What's that like, Thanksgiving at the Huckabee household?

HUCKABEE: You know, it's surprisingly chaotic because we have six grandchildren, three of hers and three that are my -- one of my other sons, I have two other sons, and we may talk politics a little bit, but it's more family. We're a very close knit family. Our kids, grandkids all love each other and play together, and we have a good time. We grew up as a family very tight knit, went through tough times and I think it made us strong, so while there's enough politics that people would expect, it's not that everything is a political discussion when our family is together.

LEVIN: So she interacts with the media, obviously, that's her job, dealing with the media.


LEVIN: It's my observation that the level of reporting has really been degraded. It's difficult to tell reporters from commentators. It's difficult to tell reporters from Hollywood actors.


LEVIN: A lot of the time. It doesn't really serve the American people, does it?

HUCKABEE: Well, journalism ought to be something that is done agnostically, that you don't know what a reporter thinks. If a reporter puts himself or herself into the story, that's no longer journalism. That's commentary, that's editorialism, and most of what we see, 90% of it has a tinge of being editorial content.

I tell people all the time what I do, whether it's on TV or anywhere else, it's not journalism. I don't play a journalist on television. A lot of these people think they're journalists and they're not. When you use a Twitter account and you put your point of view into it, you've stepped across the line from journalism into advocacy, and the problem we have is that journalism has become a lost art and when the President says, "You know, we have a lot of fake news," they get all up on their high horse and they take umbrage to it. What they should do is evaluate what they're saying, what they're writing and ask themselves, "Am I a real journalist?" Because a journalist just presents the facts, lets the reader or the listener make the determination of what those facts should mean.

LEVIN: And what about so-called news outlets that have guests who throw the word Hitler around like they're throwing around the word "the" in describing the President and his -- any President and their policies.

HUCKABEE: This President nor any other President has ever marched millions of people to a cold-blooded murder. I think it is an insult to the six million Jews and to the 11 million victims of the holocaust to ever suggest that an American President could be compared to a Hitler, and I wonder where is the liberal Jewish community that ought to be outraged that there is a minimalization of the holocaust by making this comparison. It's insulting. It's insulting to the people who were murdered in the holocaust, and it's insulting, too, to those of us who believe that politics is something about which you can be passionate, but you shouldn't be stupid, and some of these people have just become stupid in pulling out analogies that are beyond the pale.

LEVIN: As a Jew, I couldn't agree with you more, and it is very troubling to me that we have dumbed down so-called journalism to the level now where concentration camps are thrown out there, where Hitler is thrown out, there the Third Reich is thrown out there because they don't like a President or disagree with his policies, it really is beyond the pale.

HUCKABEE: Mark, I want to just say this. I've been to Auschwitz three times, and I don't think anybody can ever go and see what happened to people and to say that anything that America is doing has ever done, would even be appropriately equated to that, and I resent it.

LEVIN: Mike Huckabee, let me ask you about the judiciary, this is crucial. I would argue, and I've written about this that the Supreme Court, the judiciary generally acts outside of many cases of its constitutional boundaries. The Supreme Court is supposed to be independent, it's not supposed to be supreme of all the branches of government. So we've reached the point -- we don't need to get into how we got here, but here we are where the court is enormously powerful. Where one Justice can decide what is or is not a fundamental right, which is kind of bizarre, if you think about it, so we have this battle brewing over the Supreme Court.

Now, whether Kavanaugh is a Clarence Thomas or not a Clarence Thomas, again, you've got a hundred organizations out there, turning him into this evil devilish figure. The left has really, whether it's Trump, whether it's Supreme Court nominees, whether it was Reagan, whatever it is, the left has really become extremely hostile to even our political processes, don't you think?

HUCKABEE: Oh, without a question, and I find it interesting that when Kagan was nominated, a lot of Republicans voted for Kagan, not because they agreed with her and thought, she would rule as they wish, but because the President has a right to make that decision under the Constitution, Sotomayor, the same thing. What I look for, people say, "I hope he appoints a conservative," and I said, "I don't." I don't want him to appoint a conservative or a liberal, I want him to appoint a constitutionalist.

LEVIN: Exactly right.

HUCKABEE: I want him to appoint someone who is -- I'll use the term again, agnostic when it comes to political ideology. I want them to look at the text of the Constitution, what it meant when it was written and apply whatever law to that Constitution and strictly stay there. The Supreme Court and the entire judicial branch is exactly what you said. It is one of three equal branches, but it is not a superior branch to the other two.

Jefferson even said that if there was a weaker branch, it would be the judicial because the Congress and the legislative branch has the power of the purse, the executive has the power of the sword. The judicial branch really has the power of neither, it only has the power of persuasion, but the judicial branch has become a legislative body.

I want to say to people wearing black robes, "If you want to be a legislator, take your robe off, resign that position and run for Congress, then can you be a legislator, but if you're sitting on the court, you don't get to make law, you get to simply look at the Constitution through the clearest most focused eyes you can, and forget whether it's conservative or liberal, but is it right or is it wrong in the context of the Constitution."

LEVIN: But they don't even agree with applying the Constitution. We talk about originalism, we talk about textualism and if you have a nominee who says, "Look, I believe in applying the Constitution ..." they'll need to at least say, "No, no, no, precedent," because they like the activist precedent and except when they don't like the activist precedent. So, they view the court do, they not, as a way to advance their agenda? Particularly their social agenda. It seems like the Supreme Court is a nationalized cultural and social issues.

HUCKABEE: Well, they've done that and interestingly, they've used that as the tool to effect legislative change that they never had the votes to get, whether it's at the state or national level, which is where that should have happened, whether it's abortion or same-sex marriage, two of the more controversial social issues of the day.

So, they couldn't win it legislatively, so they go in the judiciary. Didn't they say, but we can't let the judiciary, the very body that we believe should make these decisions ever change these decisions. Why not? If you live by the sword, you die by the sword. They don't see it that way. It's a truly hilarious almost beyond ironic approach that liberals have when it comes to they can't see their own irony, but there it is.

What I think we should start looking at is if we want these changes, if we want them to be done, then do it the old-fashioned constitutional way. Sell the public on it. Get the votes in Congress or your state legislature, get it passed, get an executive branch who will sign it and carry it out. Let a court decide that it is in keeping with the Constitution that we live under, now you've gotten your agenda.

LEVIN: Or how about this? If you think your position is so popular throughout the nation, why don't you try amending the Constitution the legitimate way, rather than through judicial fiat.

HUCKABEE: Yes, absolutely.

LEVIN: We'll be right back.

We talked about amending the Constitution, the old-fashioned way, there's two old-fashioned ways, really? There's a convention of states, Article V, which basically says that the state legislatures, rather than Congress, can propose to have a meeting, a convention, not a Constitutional Convention, a meeting, and the states can send delegates and they can discuss just as Congress would the Constitution whether or not should there should be amendments, and then it goes back through the ratification process. You still need 38 state legislatures or conventions, this is something you've endorsed?

HUCKABEE: I have endorsed it, and I believe very strongly that it is the only way we're ever going to get a balanced budget amendment. It's the only way we're ever going to be able to bring some real reform to our system because Congress is completely paralyzed -- paralyzed because of the money that controls it, paralyzed because of the political interests. People are more afraid of losing an election than they are losing their constitutional republic.

So I strongly believe that a convention of the states empowers the people of America to get things done that they've long wanted, perhaps term limits, but never going to get it as long as we put it in the hands of Congress.

LEVIN: And I don't understand the serious opposition -- is this not Federalism? Is this not what we've argued for, state authority, the 10th Amendment? Is this not actually in the Constitution? It's part of the Constitution? It can't be a runaway convention, since it still takes 38 states to ratify whatever comes out of there. Isn't this a way to take our constitution as written and take it back?

HUCKABEE: I think it is, Mark, and I've always believed the best government is the most local government. That's a conservative bedrock principle and what better way to make our government more responsive to the people at the most local level than the convention of the states which really listens to the people from the states. It's a high bar to overcome. It's not easy, and people say, "Oh, it could go off the rails," not likely. I'd be more afraid they'd never get on the rails, not that it would go off.

LEVIN: And what's the alternative? We have what I argue as the Supreme Court that the left wants to act as a Politburo. That's why you can have your four justices, but beyond that you don't get any, so you have a quota system constitutionalists. Otherwise, we control things. Why do they fight so hard? Because they don't view it as a court, they view it as a sort of Politburo, a political operation that on high can order things. But this cuts under that. This is true Republicanism and Federalism, is it not?

HUCKABEE: It is absolutely what it is. It's an empowerment of the people in a way that gives us the most raw form of constitutional empowerment to the people who are supposed to be served by the government rather than to be serving the government.

LEVIN: And even if the movement got close to having a convention of states, I think that would wake up Washington like they've never been awakened before.

HUCKABEE: It couldn't but do anything other than wake them up and shake them up and Lord knows we need a wake-up and a shake-up going on in the middle of the Potomac.

LEVIN: We'll be right back.

Governor Huckabee, 10 or 20 years and now, where do you see the future of the country? Positive, negative, you're not sure?

HUCKABEE: I say I'm not sure. I'd like to say optimistic that it is going to get better, but I'm watching some things happen that I've never seen before. The level of anger, hostility -- the fact that social media that gives people the ability to be anonymously hateful and have no accountability for their speech, and the shutting down of a point of view if you don't agree with it, and not just the point of view, but shutting down all of the businesses associated with that point of view. If we don't change that, I'm pessimistic. If people wake up, come to their senses and the university campus begin to recognize that they are defiling the very thought of true education, then I'll become optimistic.

LEVIN: And of course, the rise in violence that seems to be taking place, confrontation in the streets, Antifa, other organizations -- that's concerning, is it not?

HUCKABEE: It is very concerning, now I do remember back in the '60s, we had riots in the streets. People were burning down their neighborhoods. We had shootings on campus, it was -- you go back and you look, it was a pretty rough time. People being hosed with fire hoses in the streets over racism, there were some bad things that happened in this country in the '60s and I though then, we may never make it another ten years, and we did.

The one thing I have hope for is that ultimately, I think God has blessed this nation. I don't think we would be here without Him, and I also believe this, that this is a resilient country and sometimes, it goes through tough times and then its people wake up and we decide we are better than this and that is my hope for us now.

LEVIN: Nothing worse than what took place during the Civil War.


LEVIN: I don't mean the outcome, I mean, those battles were absolutely unbelievable. It's been a great pleasure to have you.

HUCKABEE: The pleasure has been mine. Thank you, Mark.

LEVIN: All right. See you next time on "Life, Liberty & Levin."

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