Mike Huckabee: Democrats put politics ahead of economic relief

Ex-Arkansas governor, GOP presidential candidate says coronavirus has 'tempered, toned down' President Trump

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Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump, 2016
Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump shake hands during veterans rally in Des Moines, Iowa, 2016.
(Christopher Furlong/Getty)
Last Updated:
March 26, 2020 - 9:39pm

Democrats are putting political partisanship ahead of the health of the American people during this coronavirus crisis, says former Arkansas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. 

“No doubt in my mind about it,” Huckabee told Just the News in a podcast interview on The Pod’s Honest Truth with David Brody. “It's shameful. Here we are in the midst of a pandemic, when millions of Americans are out of work, and they're not sure they can pay their rent, feed their families, and the Democrats’ solution to that is, let's exploit the tragedy. Let's exploit this incredible suffering for our own political ends … this is political payoff to the people who faithfully vote for them.”

Huckabee was referring to the initial list of demands that Democrats wanted included in the $2 trillion stimulus bill that is expected to be signed into law by President Trump in a matter of days. Those requests included permanently raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour for businesses that receive coronavirus-related federal aid; cuts to Immigration and Customs Enforcement; environmental requirements for airlines that accept COVID-19 assistance; and allowing Planned Parenthood to be eligible for Medicaid money

Republicans held firm, so those requests will not be in the final bill, but Huckabee still thinks Democrats should pay at the ballot box for trying to hold emergency relief hostage to extraneous policy demands. 

“Let's punish them,” said Huckabee. “Let's make them pay for being so selfish at a time when most Americans are being called upon to be unselfish.”

Democrats have been unsparing and relentless in their criticism of President Trump’s response to the coronavirus crisis — in over his head, too slow to react, not unifying, won’t heed the advice of the medical experts. Huckabee, a big supporter of the president, sees it differently, as you might imagine. As a former governor, he knows a thing or two about handling a crisis.  

“I really think the President has handled this very well,” Huckabee said. “He’s recognized that when you manage a crisis, push the decisions as close to the people as possible through the governors and the mayors. That's where this should be handled … this is a president who has said to the governors, ‘Tell me what you need, I'll work really hard to help you get it.’”

Media coverage of the president’s crisis management has been harshly negative by and large, much as it has been from the beginning of his administration. As the sparring between the president and the press corps has increased as the crisis wears on, some in the media have fixated on the president’s use of the term “Chinese Virus,” attributing it to underlying racism. 

“That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard,” said Huckabee. “I don't remember them saying that ‘MERS,’ which stood for Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, was a racial slur against people from the Middle East. We still talk about the Spanish Flu, and people get the German Measles. These are descriptions that have to do with where something originates. It has nothing to do with race, ethnicity, religion, color, or creed.”

Huckabee has gotten to know Trump well over the last five years or so, ever since they both battled for the Republican nomination for president. The coronavirus crisis, Huckabee believes, has “tempered and toned down” the larger-than-life figure known for his outsized swagger and hubris.

The president “is now careful,” Huckabee observes, “recognizing that when he says something like ‘We're going to have all these test kits,’ that people will take him literally, as if they're all going to be there tomorrow … so he's much more careful about making promises.”

Nowadays, careful is the key word in every American’s vocabulary: careful about shaking hands, standing too close to someone, or attending mass gatherings, including church services. Huckabee, a former pastor, agrees that parishioners should change their routine by viewing church online for now but thinks one thing shouldn’t change: their tithes and offerings, despite an income that may take a serious hit. 

“I think it’s a time when everyone who can should say, ‘When my income goes down, my obligations don’t,’” he said. “I think that's important for us as believers, because one of the reasons that we do tithe is to express that we have confidence that we can trust God with the dime out of each dollar, and God will bless the 90 cents that's left.”

But ultimately for Huckabee, this crisis isn’t about personal economics or even America’s economic health. He’s confident the economy will come roaring back. He sees this global pandemic as an opportunity for people to get to know God in a real and personal way. “I think there are people crying out to God who haven't even thought about God in a long time,” Huckabee said.  

As for him personally, he’s confident in his future, even if the coronavirus affects him at the age of 64. “If the worst thing that could possibly happen did in fact happen to me and I contract either this virus or some other disease and passed away, I think for me, the good news is I've made arrangements,” he said. 

“There's another life that still awaits,” Huckabee continued, and “if I didn't believe that, what difference would it make? If [there] isn’t an afterlife, if this is all there is and when we die we just turn back into dust and we become worm food, then there really is no value in us living our lives with a sense of responsibility, character and decency and compassion and concern for other people.”

 

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