Mike Huckabee: Thank you. Thank you very much. What a delight to be here at the Sunshine Shuttle. I flew all night from Las Vegas on the red eye to get here. So, I just wanted to say that to you because normally I’m used to people in the audience going to sleep during my speeches. This may be the one time when I go to sleep and you have to wake me up. I hope not.
I’m spending most of my time these days on airplanes. And just about two weeks ago on a Friday night, I’d been in South Carolina on my way to Cedar Rapids, Iowa and got as far as Atlanta. If any of you fly anywhere in the east part of the United States, you know that when you go anywhere you gotta go to Atlanta first. I know when I die and go to heaven, I will stop in Atlanta on the way.
And I was in Atlanta and the flight got delayed and then delayed again and then yet again. At first, it was because the plane hadn't come in. And then the plane came in but we didn't have a crew. Now, it’s about two hours late and it’s gonna be 1:00 in the morning when we get to Cedar Rapids, which is already not a pleasant thought. And the gate agent who was really wonderful and he was trying to keep everybody up and chipper and not ready to go on a complete rebellion against him. And so he gets on the PA system at gate D31 at the Atlanta Airport and he says, “Ladies and gentlemen, we’re still hoping the crew will be here any minute but they’re delayed and so I know you’re ready to get to Cedar Rapids. Would anyone here like to volunteer to fly the plane to Cedar Rapids?”
And we all did exactly what you just did, we laughed out loud. I mean as tired and frustrated as we all were, everybody in that gate area laughed out loud because the thought that any of us would be as foolish to get on an airplane with somebody who just volunteered to do the job, we all thought that’s nut. It was ludicrous to think that we would do that. Nobody actually was gonna get on that airplane flown by someone who had never been in a cockpit.
Now, I want to suggest to you that when you’re thinking about electing somebody president, maybe, just maybe, it would be helpful that a person had been at least in the cockpit before. That it is not an entry level job to be President of the United States. It might be a little harder than that.
I wanna suggest to you that in one way, I don't have anybody who is better prepared to take on the battle with Hillary than me. Because nobody else has ever had to face the Clinton political machine like I did, because every election I was ever involved in was against the Bill and Hillary Clinton political apparatus. And folks, when I hear people say you need a fighter, I’m thinking you had never seen a fight ‘til you’ve had to fight the Clinton political machine.
In fact, when I first got elected, first Republican in 25 years and only the fourth in a 150 years in Arkansas, which at that time was the most lopsided state in the country. More Democrats, fewer Republicans than any other state in the country, including California, Oregon, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, you name it. They were so excited about me being there that after I was sworn in to be Lieutenant Governor, I walked down the hall to take my office and try to open the door and it was nailed shut. From the inside. Literal nails.
Webb Hubbell, Hillary’s law partner, and who at the time was working at the White House, had made a phone call back to the state capital and said get him. ‘Cause I had done something that wasn’t supposed to be done, I defeated their handpicked candidate, the one that they had financed right out of the White House. The one that they had campaigned for. And there was no way that I was supposed to win that election. That door stayed nail shut for 59 days before it finally was open. And when it was finally opened, all the office furniture and equipment had been taken out. It was an empty space. I’d get on the elevators and people would get off.
The system was incredibly corrupt. I got reelected Lieutenant Governor and then, when the governor was convicted of White Water related felonies, I became the governor. It got so bad as we started pursuing the corruption in the state over 17 different elected officials indicted, tried, and sentenced. We got to saying the five most feared words of a politician in Arkansas were these, will the defendant please rise.
But I’m gonna tell you, if we don’t stop the corruption in our nation’s capital, our great republic will not, cannot survive. We must stop that which is killing this great country.
People ask me all the time, what do I think the most important issues are. Is it the economy? Is it national security? And I say that is like asking me, which wing on the airplane is the most important the one on the left or the one on the right. You need both. Yes, we have to fix our economy.
I’m the one candidate who believes that tinkering with the current tax code is an inadequate approach. We need to do something bigger, bolder, and something that will bring rocket fuel to the fact that for the bottom 90 percent of American workers their wages have been stagnant for the past 40 years. It is singly, the single most important thing that has to happen in this country for America to prosper again. And I don't think that will happen if all we do is just rearrange some of the pages of the 77,000 pages of the tax code. I suggest we scrape it altogether, implement the fair tax, which we would pay tax on consumption not on our productivity.
There’s several things that would happen if we did that. $31 trillion of offshore capital would come back to America. Do you think that might just goose the economy a little bit? And what about manufacturing things in America again? Why don’t we do that? Because we tax capital and labor, so you can create the design of an iPhone in America, but you make it in China because if you make it in America, 22 percent of the embedded cost are the taxes that will go into it that will be part of the price. But if you make it in China, that 22 percent tax isn't there.
Wouldn’t it better not only to design things and create things and innovate things in America but to make them in America so that Americans would be getting the jobs, making things again. And the fair tax helps us to get that done.
Our economy is in trouble because every time we see wages start to go up, the fed begins to make decisions to artificially adjust the value of currency. Which means that the people who are working end up seeing their dollar not worth as much because for some reason for 40 years, the fed has been so very afraid that people’s wages would go up. And as a result, they haven't.
In the 25 years between 1948 and 1971, wages for Americans went up by 85 percent. They have been stagnant for the past 40 years.
The lady that cleans the building in which our headquarters is located in Little Rock, her name is Kathleen. Two weeks ago, I was at the headquarters late one evening. Kathleen was in the building. I got to talking to her. I said Kathleen, you work another job other than this one? She said she did. She works at a hospital all day long, eight hours, gets off at 5:00, 5:30, she comes to work with the people that own the building and where our headquarters. I said how many hours a day do you work? 15, 15 hours a day.
Let me suggest to you that Kathleen is not working 15 hours a day because she really, really enjoys scrubbing toilets, vacuuming other people’s messes, and wiping off the counter for the mess they made for lunch. Kathleen is working 15 hours a day because that’s what it takes just to survive. Not get ahead, just to survive.
There’s something wrong in a great country, when someone has to work 15 hours a day at hard work to be able to feed a family. Thank God she’s got the kind of ambition and grit that she wants to work that hard. But the sad thing is that we don’t have a strong enough economy so that she could have time to be with her own family.
But if we can get the economy fixed, we also need to make sure that we keep this country safe. I was delighted to hear today that it appears that we’ve got Jihadi John. I think he’s from all indications, he’s dead. Not a moment too soon.
But we have to take the fight to the people who wanna kill us because there’s nothing to negotiate. They don’t want a piece of land. They don’t want a better seat at the United Nations. They wanna kill every last one of us. And we have to come to the place where we acknowledge who they are, what they’re about, and go after radical Islamic jihadist with all of the full force of the United States. And build the strongest, most powerful, potent, the absolute best trained, best equipped, best financed military in the history of the world, because the only way to keep our men and women from having to go to a constant war, is having the kind of military that nobody ever wants to have to fight with. Strength will keep us at peace and strong.
But even if we can get both of those wings on the plan working just fine. The plane doesn’t fly without a steering mechanism and America can't fly without the steering mechanism of a strong moral foundation where we understand that the old fashioned virtues of work and honor and decency and family really do matter. And somehow we’ve got to again rekindle our notion that our system of government cannot function in a vacuum. Simply cannot.
And that we have to be the people who understand the best government of all is self-government. Not a government that we elect or hire, but a government that is within our own consciousness to do what is right. And we can start doing what is right by recognizing that among us, every one of us has intrinsic worth and value, and there is no such thing as a person without worth and value.
And we need to repent for the 60 million unborn children that we never recognized their worth and their value. I don’t see how God can bless a nation that could be so savage as that. And get back to our understanding of what it means to honor each other.
We face many divisive issues. Among them, immigration. And I guess every Republican says we will secure the problem. Well, we always say that but we never seem to do it. Securing the border is not the end of what we do, it’s just a matter not of trying to keep people out, but making sure that the people who come in want to come and help us build a great America. Because throughout our entire life as a country, it has been the immigrants who come to this country and help us build a great America. It’s not to close people out and say we don’t want anybody else. But it’s to make sure that when people do come, they want to come to be a part of making this country even better with their skills, their talents, their abilities, their hopes, their dreams, their aspirations. But you can't do that if you don’t control the border itself.
I wanna be very clear that we can get this done and we can do it in less than a year because 73 years ago, we built a road between British Columbia and Alaska. A road in the arctic conditions under engineering capabilities of 73 years ago. That road was 1,700 miles long and we built it in less than a year.
As President, I will put the director of homeland security and his family stationed in Laredo, Texas, and say to him, you’re not leaving until we secure the border. It’ll be done in less than a year.
But let’s be rational about bringing people to this country who will contribute to our success, our prosperity, our security, our safety. Let’s not have an immigration policy that displaces Americans. For example, under the H1B process, it wasn’t long ago that Disney. Yes, I know I’m in Orlando. Yes, I know it’s the happiest place on earth. But it wasn’t very happy for the Disney workers who were replaced by foreign workers under an H1B visa because they would be willing to work for a lot less money. And to add insult to injury, the Disney workers were required to train their foreign replacements before they ultimately were shoved out the door.
America can treat its people better than that. And immigration should not be about seeing if we can displace American workers, it’s about making it so that everybody who does come here comes to contribute to something greater than himself or herself.
And let me mention this, now I hear sometimes, my fellow Republicans wanna say, let’s bring real cuts to Social Security and the people who are on it. Let’s make them work longer. Let’s means test it. Let’s cut the benefits. I think a far better idea than cutting the Social Security benefits of the people who paid their own wages into that fund would be to grow the economy. Because if our economy was growing at just four percent a year, we wouldn’t even have to even talk about cutting any benefits. We would more than be able to make up the needs of Social Security and Medicare.
But I wanna be on record of saying that Social Security is not a welfare program, it is not an entitlement. It is the earned benefit of the people who involuntarily had that money taken out of their checks by the government. And the government should keep their hands off of it. It’s a matter of America keeping its promise to the people who never got a choice as to whether they wanted to make those contributions or not.
And speaking of promises, one group of Americans deserve the first fruits of our treasury. And we acknowledged them two days ago on Veteran’s Day. But it is an incredible embarrassment to this country that we ask people to put on a uniform, go halfway around the world to places whose names they can't even pronounce until they get there, and stand between bullets and bombs, and the rest of us, having promised them that they will receive healthcare because they have in fact served their country and kept their promise. And when they get back, we don’t keep our promise to them. We can fix this and one way to do it is make sure that the President and every member of Congress get their healthcare from the VA until they get it fixed.
One of the great incredible joys that I’ve ever had is to go many, many times to Israel starting in 1973, and I was all of 17 years old. I’ve been back dozens of times and I’ve taken thousands of people. It’s a remarkable place because you can only explain Israel by God’s hand being involved.
And I will tell you that one of the reasons that I feel such an infinity for the nation of Israel is because when I’m there, I sense what America was like when. In our early days, we understood the only explanation for the United States of America was God’s providence. There’s no other explanation for how a rag tag group of farmers and merchants and people could take their muskets off the mantle and challenge the greatest army in the history of the world at that time, the British Army. So well prepared, well armed, well equipped, well trained, even well dressed. No way we could take them on and win. But we did.
And we did it because we had some incredible people on whose shoulders we enjoy our freedom, who decided that liberty, the ability to think our own thoughts, to speak our own words, to worship in our own way was more valuable than any other concept belief that we could ever hold to.
My friends, if we forget where we have come from, and forget our responsibility in this world of ours, I can only hope that God will forgive us for being so forgetful of his grace and what he has done. And on that same token, if we cannot express our alliance, our comradery, and our support of those who mirror our values and our commitment to freedom and a sense of self-governing. And God, I hope will forgive us for that. But the truth is, I’m not sure he will. I’m not sure he should.
But there’s a better option than having to beg God’s forgiveness for the sins we’ve created, and that’s for us to be America again. It does the right thing for the right reason. For those people who come after us. And as I’ve often said in town halls across this country when people say why in the world are you running for President, what is it that possesses you to do something like this. And I tell them, it’s because I have five grandkids and I do not want to walk my five grandkids through the charred remains of a once great country called America and say here you go kids. $20 trillion of debt, a decimated military that’s 25 percent less than it was when this President took office. A nation where cronyism has created such a corrupt environment in Washington so that six out of the 10 richest counties in America surround Washington, D.C. And why? Because the donor class has fed the political class and kicked the working class in the teeth. And we can do better than that and we should and we will.
And I hope to have your vote as President of the United States. Thank you and God bless you. Delight to be with you today. Thank you very much.