January 13th, 2008
05:12 PM ET
6 years ago

Huckabee spends Sunday behind the pulpit

Huckabee at a Michigan church Sunday.

Huckabee at a Michigan church Sunday.

(CNN) - As evangelicals mobilize for Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor is bristling at suggestions his political success in South Carolina depends on people of faith.

"I don't think it’s just evangelicals. I think there is a strong support for me among evangelicals - at least I hope so - but I think there is also a strong support for me for people who want immigration to be addressed," he said Sunday, a day in which he addressed three church services in two states.

But he didn’t deny the potential political influence of the state’s ministers. Does he hope they’ll mobilize on his behalf? "Well, I just hope they don't mobilize against me, that's the first thing. Kind of like the Hippocratic oath, first do no harm,” he told reporters.

“The second thing, I mean, we would love for pastors... they can't mobilize, for example, from the pulpit, say ‘everybody, the bus leaves the church 8 a.m. on Saturday,’” he added. “It's a matter of urging them to use the influence they have to get their people out to vote. And I hope they will. Why wouldn't they?”

Huckabee has garnered overwhelming support from evangelicals, and his strongest showings in recent surveys have come in states with significant Christian conservative populations.

The former governor said he felt confident in South Carolina. “We really want to win here," he told reporters, before heading off to campaign events in Michigan. "To say we would be content with fourth place is not true, we wouldn't be, we want to win." But he also said that winning is not vital, as long as he continues to place at the top of the field.

The ordained Baptist minister had looked at home behind the pulpit at First Baptist Church North Spartanburg early Sunday, as he discussed his faith in God and spoke in detail about heaven. "You may be surprised the people you see in heaven, but they might be surprised to see you there as well," said Huckabee.

As Huckabee spoke, grassroots organizers across Michigan planned an ambitious day of evangelical outreach in advance of Tuesday’s primary, including phone trees by attendees of the state’s biggest churches and attention-grabbing events in church parking lots.

Evangelicals may make up as much as 40 percent of GOP primary voters in that state, according to a recent Detroit News poll. Huckabee is running behind Mitt Romney and John McCain there in surveys released this weekend.

Related video: Huckabee reprises preacher role

–CNN's Trisha Henry, Wes Little and Rebecca Sinderbrand

Filed under: Michigan • Mike Huckabee • South Carolina
soundoff (107 Responses)
  1. Walt, TX

    Since he has such a dismal record as a Governor, raising all those fees and letting all those felons go, he will hopefully fall by the wayside, preacher or no. Romney's not much better, far worse if you consider his religious factor and their lack of equality for women! Two losers, neither served in the military, neither has any foreign policy expertise at all and seem to be lacking in the intestinal fortitude department (guts) as well.

    Sounds more and more like John McCain is the Man!!! Thanks for serving, John. Thanks for being willing to serve some more!!!

    January 14, 2008 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  2. David - Oregon City

    God please save us from these complainers and fake alarmists here who are rattling on against Mike Huckabee. I am sure they are just as critical or more so of those who speak ill of their favorite football team or mobile home. Wake up American! These people are the reason why our country has moved in the wrong direction for the last forty years.


    January 14, 2008 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  3. Mitch Coley

    The Hippocratic oath? How about the Hypocrite oath?

    In many interviews, he has denied that his role as a former preacher would play a role other than being the foundation from which he gathers his values and therefore his moral vision for the nation. I am turned off by his approach.

    On the other hand, you have to give it to him. He is playing his cards at the right table...

    January 14, 2008 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  4. william walsh col ohio

    if you dont call running for president and giving a serman on sunday all day about your god then what is it? yeeeeeh ha!! huckelbee, i think you can put a fork in it now, god should have told you not to do it! why dont you start your own church after the election, and teach bible studies on wed /frid and sat/ night?

    January 14, 2008 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  5. Kevin

    I don't think politicians should ever stand behind a pulpit in a Church. The protection that separation of Church and State was not enacted to protect the State, it was enacted to protect the Church. This simple fact gets missed all the time... there's nothing wrong with having a Pastor as President, but there's everything wrong with having a President act as a Pastor.

    I see Mr. Huckabee as a fantastic presidential candidate. He seems like a REAL Christian to me, not just someone who's tagged Christ's name on to his campaign.

    Further, Mr. Huckabee is smart, caring, "presidential" and honest. As for his international experience I have two questions – Does the world really need another President sitting in Washington who thinks he's got it all figured out? Or would everyone be better served by a President who is keenly aware of his need for relying on a good team of people?


    January 14, 2008 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  6. Chad

    Well said Leif! He was asked to come and minister to this church. He didn't mention his campaign. The government isn't stupid. Do you really believe these religious institutions would jeopardize their churches for one man.

    January 14, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  7. Chip Celina OH

    I guess most of you won't vote for Obama or Clinton either. I just saw clips of them being introduced at churches. The big difference being, they went to talk about POLITICS, where Huckabee spoke about Jesus.


    January 14, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  8. jw, canadian,ok

    Religion belongs in the churchhouse, not in the Whitehouse or the schoolhouse.

    January 14, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  9. Wayne, Greenville TX

    What part of "separation of church of state" does Mike Huckabee not understand???

    January 14, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  10. Bubba, Swainsboro GA

    Leif, are you talking about a different Huckabee? This one said he wanted to make this country uncomfortable for non-Christians. Great, just what we need! Will he be putting the Jews in camps this time, or just the Catholics and Mormons? And how exactly will that end the war and bring the economy back and drop the price of gas? Face it, Huck's a loon. We need leadership, not slogans. And after 9-11, yeah, we're a bit scared of people who think they talk to God.

    January 14, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  11. Craig

    I don't necessarily agree with candidates using the pulpit to garner support, but I hope anyone who would speak out against it is also willing to add every Democratic candidate who has ever spoken in front of a black church to the list of culprits. For some reason, when the Republican candidate does it, we are inching ever closer to a Theocracy, but when the Democratic candidate does it, they are shoring up their base.

    But then again, I lost all hope long ago that politically informed people would speak without hypocrisy.

    January 14, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  12. JohnKing

    Huckabee is just vote pandering, avoiding real issues.

    Ron Paul is the only candidate with a solid track record of living and voting in accordance with biblical principles.

    January 14, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  13. Steve Pinkston, GA

    Nancy, Darryl ( your other brother Darryl), Gundy and Bob......

    Strange you are so against Mike Huckabee in the pulpit but yet Obama, Clinton and Edwards were ALL in the pulpit each and every Sunday!!!!!!!!!!

    January 14, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  14. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    Lief-no nation has withstood destruction by religion. It has ruined every civilization on the planet and Huckabee has stated his intention to pursue "taking back this nation for christ" as well as destroying the separation of church and state that protects this nation from it's worst enemy. They are not "good people" they are the enemy of our country and all that we stand for. Radical religious extremists are anti-american subversives and need to be rooted out and destroyed, regardless of which brand.

    January 14, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  15. Allison, NH

    Lief – the problem is I do not fear religion – I fear intolorance for other religions. Our country was founded on freedom from religion – and this guy feels as if we should all be Christian's who believe in HIS God. Sorry, pal, that's not the way it works here in the USA.

    Steve, Pinkston, GA – No they were NOT in the pulpit each in every Sunday!!! There is a big difference between attending church and being acting Pastor (Preist, Preistess, Bishop, etc.) of a church.

    Huckabee is going to loose a lot of votes if he keeps pulling the religion card. Not only from Jews, Mormon's, Agnostics, Johova's, Muslims, Buddists, Scientologists, and Athiests [et. al.] – but also people like myself who are Christian and feel he is being intolorant of others.

    January 14, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  16. boggsie

    Wayne in TX: "separation of church of state" ...

    The candidate probably fails to overtly recognize it, because it isn't in the constitution. What is there is: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ..." With all due respect to the various Supreme Court decisions ...

    JohnKing : " ... the only candidate with a solid track record of living and voting in accordance with biblical principles."

    Scripture is clear; those who will bless Israel in word and/or deed will be blessed and those who curse Israel will be cursed. The candidates stand on the need to withdraw support for Israel from the region is clearly in conflict with scripture.

    January 14, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  17. D. Hern, Massachussetts

    Ed. You sound as an extreme as a Stalin. I hope your simplistic thinking grows up sometime soon.

    ROMNEY CHECKED WITH THE HIGHEST LEADERS OF HIS CHURCH BEFORE RUNNING. So all you Romney people are talking out of both sides of your mouth.

    Huckabee has a track record of being a good public servant and you should not impugn his character that way. However, he would probably be like another Carter in the White House so I probably won't be voting for him.

    MCCAIN 08.

    January 14, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  18. Jen Cedar Falls, IA

    Huckabee is completely out of his league in this race.

    Let him go back home to his congregation, his pulpit and worship band.

    Free the nation from the worst ever comic-wannabe Presidential hopeful.

    This is a serious race and he's making a mockery out of it.

    He also happens to be the most hypocritical of all the candidates on either side, most people are seeing through him now, I saw it right away here in Iowa.

    He's a Fake.

    January 14, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  19. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I would hope that all people look at the issues that the candidates are trying to run on to get the nomination. The important question is how can people demonstrate how their religion plays a part in their life with it being viewed as their religion being the sole influence in their life.

    Because of Huckabee's past a pastor, this makes people nervous because of the possiblity that he could impose his religous views on everyone. The same could be seen of Romney. We should all reflect on what JFK talked about; the Catholic Church wouldn't control him. We trusted that to be true and it was for his short presidency. Have we had other presidents been all controlled by their religion? I have a feeling that the answer is most likely no to that.

    January 14, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  20. David, Encinitas, CA

    Craig, Susan et al,

    There's a difference between candidates giving a speech at a church and a minister giving a sermon. The latter has far more influence among the congregation and could possibly use religion as a basis for garnering votes (e.g. vote for my values or you will go to hell). While I don't particularly like any candidate to speak at churches for the reasons you raise, it's much more of an issue in the case of Huckabee. Frankly, the reason I stopped going to services was because of political messages in the sermons. Mixing spirit and politics makes for a bad cocktail.

    January 14, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  21. Derek, TX

    Ed from New York, you are quite mistaken in your statements here. If you look at any empire of the past it was certainly not religion that destroyed it, but the economy and greed. This country was founded by men who were devoted religiously, not necessarily Christian, and religion has continued to show itself to be an amazing driving factor in happiness, economic productivity, and generosity. Though religious extremists have certainly caused much destruction, Huckabee is most assuredly not one of them. If the aim is to claim that Huck is a religious extremist because he uses a Sunday to address believers about God and not even address politics (as many Democrats have from the pulpit), I can only hope that the majority of voters in this nation are not so completely off base with reality.

    January 14, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  22. Independent in IA

    Remember, voters.....he has promised "...not to be TOO intolerant of other faiths."

    January 14, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  23. Mark G., BBH, ME

    They would not because mixing God adn polictics is the worst kind of Pharishee.

    January 14, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  24. chicken


    January 14, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  25. chicken


    January 14, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
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