Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said if more people exercised personal responsibility, there would be less need for government.
Huckabee, who spoke to about 1,000 people at Union College on Monday, said people should practice the Golden Rule.
“If everybody practiced that perfectly, we would need no other laws,” he said.
Speaking with reporters before his speech, Huckabee commented on Democratic Sen. Barack Obama’s remarks that people in small towns were bitter and clung to their religion because of that. Huckabee said he did not take offense to the remarks. He said he believes the comment may not hurt Obama as much in the primary as it would in the general election if he is seen as condescending.
He added that if the Democratic primary drags on into the summer, it might hurt their chances of winning the White House.
Huckabee did not rule out serving as John McCain’s running mate if asked, but he said the senator has to weigh carefully who best balances the ticket.
“I’m not sitting around the phone.”
Huckabee — the governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007 — won the Iowa caucus and seven other states during the primary process. He left the Republican primary race in early March when Arizona Sen. John McCain obtained enough votes to wrap up the nomination.
Dressed informally in a blue blazer and blue shirt, Huckabee spoke for 90 minutes at Memorial Chapel about the campaign, social issues and his future.
Huckabee said conservatives get the reputation that all they want to do is have lower taxes and less government. He believes that self-governance is ideal. The Founding Fathers believed in local government. The reason why government has to continue to pass more laws is people fail to respect each other. If people did not kill, lie, steal or cheat in business, there would be no need for a large government bureaucracy.
He said that during the 10-plus years he was governor of Arkansas, it cost roughly $18,000 a year to keep a person in state prison — more than it would cost for four years of tuition, room and board at a state school.
He cited a situation where two students, ages 11 and 12, opened fire with two high-powered rifles on a middle school campus in Jonesboro in 1998.
“It had never occurred that we would ever have a time where an 11-year-old kid would shoot teachers and students on a middle school campus,” he said.
Huckabee said among the highlights of his campaign was doing programs like “Saturday Night Live” and “The Colbert Report” aimed at young voters. However, he enjoyed traveling the country and seeing supporters. “There are some really amazing people in America. It’s easy to get cynical about politics and if you’re in the middle of it, it’s real easy,” he said.
Huckabee said he was touched by events such as the 500 truck drivers who put “Huckabee for President” signs on their rigs.
Huckabee said he would have never imagined running for president. No man in his family completed high school, much less college. He put himself through school in a little over two years by working full-time at a local radio station.
Huckabee said while he would love the students in the audience to all become Republicans, he would instead rather they be great Americans, love the country and strive to eliminate poverty, hunger and disease.
Huckabee said people should not be elected because of their faith or lack thereof, but the courage of their convictions.
“You have a right to know what makes us tick.”
“I’d rather have a person in office with whom I starkly disagree, but I know where they come from,” he said.
Huckabee also defended his religious beliefs. He said he is pro-life because he believes that life is valuable — at both the beginning and end.
During the question-and-answer session, multiple speakers asked about gay marriage. Huckabee, who is an ordained Southern Baptist minister, said he believes marriage is between a man and a woman and a nontraditional concept should not be introduced.
“We’re having enough problem making traditional marriage work,” he said. At what point is the definition of marriage extended, he added, and questioned whether it would include polygamy.
He said he plans to remain active in public life. He is relaunching his Web site as part of a new political action committee and he plans to stump for other like-minded candidates.
Jonathan Doucette, a 19-year-old freshman at Union College from Northboro, Mass., said he believes Huckabee was very well spoken. However, he said he opposed his view on gay marriage since he is gay himself.
“There is more instability by not legitimizing same-sex marriages,” he said.
Casey Mullaney, a 17-year-old senior at Niskayuna High School, said she considers herself a liberal, but Huckabee’s message of personal responsibility resonated.