January 13th, 2008
05:12 PM ET
1 year 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. pstrmrk

    After reading these posts attacking Gov. Huckabee I believe he is exactly the person we need in the White House. America's education system is worse than I thought. He brought Arkansas from 49th in the nation to 8th in education. If ever we need a competent, effective, leader it is now. Particularly, in light of these biased, uninformed, ill-thought, comments attacking a good man. Check out MikeHuckabee.com and read what Mike stands for. That is, if you can read or comprehend anything beyond a 30 second television spot.

    January 14, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  2. Bruce

    How much did Hucklebee get paid for this sermon? $10,000 again like the church in Dallas? That is for me a big reason not to vote for the man.

    January 14, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  3. Brenda

    It sickens me to think that someone would vote because of religion and the thought that he is standing in church parking lots or from the pulpit for speeches makes me want to throw up. I certainly hope they find more to him than just religion. He is not a conservative where it counts, on the issues!!!!

    If Mitt did this they would be all over him. Mitt doesn't interject his religion into politics, but has had to struggle to keep it out because everyone else wants him to address it.

    And no, I don't think ANYONE else is going into churches. Although they might if they didn't fear and expect the backlash.

    I'm voting for Mitt Romney no matter what. I know his record and I'm behind him 100%.

    January 14, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  4. Craig Louisville KY

    Mike Theocracy is the scariest republican this nation has ever seen. 1st off why wont he make public the transcripts from his speeches while speaking to the southern Baptist conventions???? (Yet, the republicans can cry over some cattle deals in Arkansas from over 25 years ago can you can double standard) 2nd he is SO unelectable my 93 year old grandmother who votes straight ticket republican and who only voted once for a Dem president (FDR in his third term) stated she would not vote for him. If he somehow won the nomination a vote for Mr. Theocracy would be a vote basically for Clinton. Why do you think no one on the left is attacking him?? Also, we are already 43 in science as rated against other nations ( China 27th, India 4, IRAN 23rd!!!!) how low do you think science standards would fall under a Mike Theocracy can you say national security threat!!!!! What Mr. Theocracy needs to go do is be a tour guide at the Creation Museum. Let me guess the comments of those supporting Mr. Theocracy “He is restoring this nation back to its Christian identity” “I pray that Mike Huckbee is the next president” go back to home schooling your kids and crawl back under your Calvinist/ End of Times Bunkers

    January 14, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  5. Joy Greer SC

    Second times a charm!

    “No man can serve two masters. Either he will cleave to the one and forsake the other…” Which one will Huckabee forsake, God or country? Either answer is wrong.

    January 14, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  6. Jan

    I disagree with previous comments alluding to a fear Huckabee would seek to create a theocracy. I also think the comment pointing out that other candidates have appeared in churches is worth remembering before criticizing Huckabee's pulpit showing.

    It is important every candidate seek to engage in a dialogue with people of faith. The fact that Huckabee has a history of having been a pastor only means he is A) more at home in that milieu and B) more conscious of higher leves of scrutiny as a result: both in terms of overall ethical scrutiny and ecclesiastical scrutiny with regard to adherence to biblical precepts.

    My research and exposure to Huckabee leads me to conclude he is honorable and as qualified as any to run and to serve. McCain disappointed with his waffling and dissolving into a Bush apologist in 2004. Romney is beholden to corporate interests.

    Michigan and the nation need vision, strength and fairness with regard to domestic issues. Huckabee's pragmatic populism makes sense.

    January 14, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  7. Lee

    As noted by others here, Huckabee is not the only candidate to have been invited to the pulpit by churches in violation of IRS tax exemption rules. My previous comments are also directed at the churches inviting Clinton, Obama, and any other candidate to the pulpit- no double standards, all are in violation of IRS rules and should loose tax exempt standing.

    One often hears Christians as the question "What would Jesus do?" Well, if Jesus were to show up at a church consecrated to Him and found anyone of these candidates at the pulpit for obvious self-serving purposes, what would He do? I think the story of Jesus casting the money changers out of the temple would serve as a good precedent to follow.

    January 14, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  8. issa

    why do you people not say anything about it when Democratic candidates speak in churches? Obama does it so do Clinton 1 and Clinton 2, Kerry did it and the list goes on.

    January 14, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  9. Mike, Minnesota

    Hey Huckabee,
    You keep your religion out of my government and I'll keep my government out of your religion.

    January 14, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  10. JH

    Not all Christian conservatives support Mike Huckabee!

    Some of us do not need our pastors to tell us who to vote for and can think for ourselves. Some of us realize the difference between a man who can give good sermons and a man who is qualified to be the leader of the free world!!!

    I AM INSULTED THAT MIKE HUCKABEE THINKS THAT BECAUSE HE IS A CHRISTIAN, I SHOULD VOTE FOR HIM, RIDICULOUS!!

    January 14, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  11. Travis, Columbus, OH

    Looks like Huckabee shot himself in the foot with this one. What's he doing accepting speaking engagements in a church during a political campaign? Some here have argued that he was talking about Jesus and not his campaign, and that may be true, but seriously, why get yourself entangled in that kind of conflict of interest?

    Oh, and to all you "separation of church and state" people who are up in arms, what about Hillary and Obama blantanly campaigning in churches accross America for the past two years? For any politician to stoop to using the pulpit for political gain is dubious at best– are we willing to hold both sides of the aisle equally accountable?

    January 14, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  12. MAC

    NO RELIGIOUS TEST!!!!

    IF YOU ARE VOTING OR NOT VOTING FOR SOMEONE BASED ON THEIR RELIGION, YOU NEED TO READ THE CONSTITUTION.

    January 14, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  13. Eric-Houston, TX

    I guess all the hullabaloo about Huckabee being a former pastor is somewhat reminiscent of the ridicule Regan suffered about being a former B movie actor. The interesting aspect of the criticism above that I see is a pattern to bite and lash out at people who are reaching out to you. I see in Huckabee and Giuliani a certain inclusiveness that I haven't seen in the Republican party in a long, long time. Odd that one is from the South and the other from the North....a potential Ticket?

    PS On the religious stuff. Don't forget Carter was a Sunday School teacher, fond of asking "If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" What of James Garfield being a Minister? No pogroms or inquisitions then, eh?

    Anyway I'm always hopeful to hear genuine contributions to discourse. The spewing of nonsense should be left to Rosie.

    January 14, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  14. Eric

    I challenge anyone to look at Huck's record. He was a great conservative leader in a mostly democratic state. He gets things done and is a good man. By the way, I have heard several of his sermons. When he is behind the pulpit he talks about Jesus. It is not a violation of IRS rules for a political candidate to deliver a sermon. If fact, it is a protected RIGHT by the CONSTITUTION. Ever heard of it??

    January 14, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  15. GS

    America bless God NOT God bless America

    Only 2 kinds of people in the world
    Forgiven-cleansed by the blood of Jesus, accepted by God
    Unforgiven (God is waiting for you.) will be rejected at the gates of heaven and sentenced for judgemt

    No man is perfect. I think that if Mike Huckabee is truly following Christ then he will be blessed and so will America.

    "You will know a man by his fruit" (what he does and says).
    Just keep an open mind and vote.

    January 14, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  16. M

    That's pretty twisted Ed. In the same breath you accuse someone of being a radical and an extremist and then suggest that anyone with similar views that differ from your own be rooted out and destroyed.

    January 14, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  17. DHowell

    Huckabee has spent more time in Public office than he did in pulpits, yet everyone criticizes him. Maybe you should look back to all the pics and articles of Clinton, obama, and the other countless politicians who have been in the pulpits.

    He gets attacked i suppose b/c he used to be a preacher. Yet there's nothing wrong with Hillary speaking from the pulpit and having her people villify Obama's past drug use from the pulpit.

    January 14, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  18. LB, Franklin Lakes, NJ

    Huckabee is one of those people who calls himself a "Christian" (as if Catholics, Lutherans, Greek Orthodox are not). He's an Evangelical like Bush and one of the main activities of Evangelicals is attempting to convert others to their form of "Christianity". Bush tried this proselytizing with his Faith-based initiatives. The US air force academy was pushing this stuff on their students not too long ago. What do you think Huckabee will do if he becomes president? He will subtly try to push his religion on us anyway he can.

    January 14, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  19. Chuck

    Nowhere is it stated in the constitution "separation of church and state". Nowhere. If a religious man brings himself to a public debate or forum and leaves his religion at home, he has left part of himself at home. He wouldn't be true to himself. No one needs to push their particular brand of religion on anyone, but basic religios tenants are the foundation of all law. I can bring my religiuos beliefs to the political table, not my church traditions.

    Nowhere do I here Mike huckabee assuming if your a Christian you should vote for him. It is illegal for a pastor to say "vote for Mike Huckabee". The church could have their tax exmpt status removed. Mike Huckabee was at one time a preacher. Many conservative evangelicals believe if a man (or woman) has been called to preach, then that gift never leaves. It would be normal to invite him to preach on Sunday. Everybody calm down.

    Those of you comparing Christianity to Radical Islamic extremism are wacko and offensive. Not all religion has violence on its mind.

    I'm still making up my mnd on Mike Huckabee. He seems a genuine Christian, no doubt. I'm just not sure he is the best candidate for the job.

    January 14, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  20. Jason NYC

    Bigv: Thanks for being an example of what's wrong with the critical thinking skills of some of the members society.

    Where Huck stands on the issues is directly related to his faith, therefore the rationality behind his faith must be considered. If he can't separate them, how can we?

    To quote Bill Maher in his interview with Huck, "If someone believes that the earth is 6,000 years old and every scientist in the world is saying that it is billions of years old, why shouldn't I take that into account when I am assessing the rationality of someone I am going to put into the highest office in the land?"

    The Office of President of the United States requires careful thought and examination of current social, political, economic and global issues. We cannot trust in the abilities of someone who so blatantly believes things to be true when in fact there is significant proof for the opposite.

    Wanting something to be true does not make it true. If you really took the time to educate yourself and objectively look at the worlds data, you would plainly see that human beings evolved from ape-like ancestors that existed around 7 million years ago in the late Miocene epoch.

    January 14, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  21. SC_GOP

    Plain and simple. If you don't want a president who believes in God, vote someone else. If you do, Huckabee is a good candidate that you should look into make your own decision.

    January 14, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  22. D Mills Garland, Tx

    I've seen comments on several posts here talking about Hillary and Obama preaching from pulpits, however, their messages aren't that women need to lose their right to choose or our constitution be amended to ensure that bias and discrimination are written into law if they are elected. I think it is great if our leaders have convictions of faith, but none of them should be using houses of worship to further their political careers and that covers both parties.

    January 14, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  23. Jeff

    Everyone just needs to calm down.
    I agree that no canidate should use the pulpit to talk solely about their campaign. But the truth is, they do. Hillary and Obama have both done this, as well as many of the others. The reason this is a big deal to the press, is because before he was govenor, Huckabee was a minister. Of course they're going to make a big deal about it.
    The point is, Huckabee is the only canidate that has professed his faith and stood by it through all of the criticism. How can you be mad at that? Even if you're not a christian, you've got to admit, his faith is strong, he knows what he believes and he's going to stick by it. As govenor, he didn't impose it on the people, I don't think he'd do it as president either. What stands out to me is his unmoving faith, and I feel more comfortable with someone who has that, then someone who would dodge a tough question like "What do you believe"?

    January 14, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  24. Bob - Michigan

    Mitt Romney has the least chance of swinging independent voters and winning the General Election. I am a Gulianni supporter and my wife is a Huckabee supporter, but we are both voting for John McCain in the Michigan primary to help get Romney out of the race.

    I know that voting for Gulianni or Huckabee are wasted votes in Michigan, so MY WIFE AND I ARE VOTING FOR JOHN MCCAIN IN MICHIGAN TO MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE!

    Guliainni will make his stand in Florida against McCain, but hopefully without Romney's negative ads financed with Romney's personal $$$. George Bush stole the 2000 election with negative ads and look at the mess our country is in now because of him. We don't need another rich guy buying the election with negative ads! We don't need negative Romney ads in this campaign anymore. STOP ROMNEY!

    January 14, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  25. Deism is the Way

    I will choose the candidate that most embraces REASON and LOGIC not- superstition.

    January 14, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
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