Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR)
Republican Party of Iowa
Abraham Lincoln Unity Dinner
Des Moines, Iowa
April 14, 2007
Thank you very much.  Thank you Craig, and thank you Iowans.  I need to tell you about a little problem we've had here tonight.  The program said that the former Governor of Arkansas would be on the program, and unfortunately someone else thought he was to be here to and it's a little awkward moment but I thought it only appropriate since in respect to the office I would at least let him have a brief moment so let me introduce you to another former Governor of Arkansas who is here with us tonight and I'll let him come and say hello briefly.
Paul Shanklin (as Bill Clinton): You probably know me already.  I too am a former Governor of Arkansas and Mike I was the original Man from Hope, Arkansas.  Mike's done a great job.  He's cleaned up the mess in Arkansas.  It took him ten years but he cleaned up that mess in Arkansas, and I should know, because Hillary made it.  [laughter, applause].  But I want you to know something, I want you to know something.  I too am an avid hunter, but not varmits, and that's why I'm here tonight to reach out across the aisle to Susie, Amy, Jennifer, Elizabeth, and Candy.  Thank you very much  [inaud.]  [applause].
Ladies and gentlemen that's Paul Shanklin.  You've heard him on the Rush Limbaugh Show.  He is the voice of all of those wonderful parodies on the Rush Limbaugh Show.  Give Paul Shanklin  a great hand tonight who is here with us.
And if you like the wonderful humor and comedy of Paul Shanklin and all those things that you've heard on Rush for the many years tonight after the event at a reception in Room 145 we'd like to invite you.  Paul will be performing along with Capitol Offense, the rock band that I play in.  It is my other hobby.  People ask why am I running for president.  Well my band didn't make it on American Idol so [laughter] you'll find out why tonight if you come to Room 145.

I can't imagine people going through ten political speeches tonight.  A Scripture comes to mind:  They that endure to the end shall be saved.  [laughter, applause].

I want to thank you for your patience tonight with all of us.  What an incredible opportunity it is for each of us to stand here.   One of the things that's interesting is every single person who comes to this podium tonight is going to tell you that he's a true conservative.  Now you'll have to sort out whether that's true, but let me tell you the good needs.  At least it proves that in our party it still matters to be a conservative and no one but a conservative has any hope of getting to the presidency from the Republican party in 2008.  [applause].

Now I know I'm the guy that some people have said showed up a little late for the presidential election.  Some have said that I should have started years ago, months ago, but I didn'tit's just been a few weeks ago.

But while I may be one of the guys coming a little late to the presidential process of running, let me tell you what I'm not late in showing up for.

I'm not late in declaring that I believe life begins at conception and that we ought to protect human life and that's one of the reasons that I am a Republican today, because it was the only party that gave people like me a voice and a choice.

I'm not late believing that marriage is still between a man and a woman and it's not anything else.  It still means something.

I'm not late in believing that the Bush tax cuts were good when they were first proposed, they're still good today, and that they ought to be made permanent.  And I believed it then; I still believe it now.

I'm not late coming into the idea that the 2nd Amendment is not about protecting our capacity to go hunting deer, turkey, duck, antelope.  I enjoy those things but that's not what the 2nd Amendment is.  The 2nd Amendment is about protecting our basic freedoms and about protecting our homes, our families, and it's about protecting us from a government should it ever get out of control.  Our Founding Fathers understood that and that's why they made it an important part of the Constitution.

I'm not late in believing that government ought to be competent and it ought to be free of corruption, that our education system ought to work and it ought to be solid for every kid who goes through it.  It worked for me when I was a little kid growing up in South Arkansas.  I was the first male in my entire family lineage to even graduate high school.

What an incredible country this is that affords someone like me the opportunity to go on to college, get a degree and to go from being the kid whose dad at eight years old said son, I'm going to take you to meet a governor 'cause you may live your whole life and never get to meet one to the kid who got to become one.  This is America.  That's why I love this country.  And I want every little kid growing up in America to have the same capacity to reach for the next rung on the ladder and know that it's possible to get there.

We're looking for a president in this country.  Republicans and Democrats alike will be putting forth ideas.  By the way it's tax weekend.  The Democrats have a new proposal Hillary's come out with.  It's a simplified 1040 plan.  Simply this.  Line one says, "How much did you make?"  Line two says, "How much have you got left?"  Line three says, "Send it in."  [laughter].  I'm not sure that's the best idea.

Well what makes for a good president?  Frankly I think it's, to some it's telling people what they want to hear.  To some it may be vote for me because I'll tell you what you don't want to hear.  I'd like to think that the reason you might vote for me is because I'm going to tell you what I truly believe and it's what you believe and not just what you want to hear, but it's what you want to see us get done.

Let me be honest with you tonight.  I'm probably not going to be the pick of Wall Street.  I'm doubtful I'm going to be the pick of the lobbyists on K Street.  What I'd like to be is the voice and the choice of the folks who live on Main Street, in towns like where you come from and where I come from, who believe that the Republican Party does matter because it does believe something.  And as my pastor used to tell me as a kid, if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.  I want us to be the party that truly stands for something.  But not just a voice to speak to you; I believe a president's elected to speak for all those folks who can't speak for themselves anymore.

I want to be the president who will speak for Little Miracle Brion Craig [phon.] who died on March the 10th of 2006, nine days shy of her first birthday.  Little Miracle Brion Craig, that was her name, born into an African-American family in New Orleans, was on an oxygen ventilator when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast.  Her family was evacuated to Texas and then moved back to Louisiana and ended up in a trailer park in Baton Rouge.  Her parents kept saying, our little daughter is sick, needs medical attention, but she kept getting shuffled from one shelter to another.  The doctors said she was okay.  They didn't discover the heart disease until they did her autopsy.  I want to be the president who is a voice for Little Miracle Brion Craig so that that doesn't ever happen in a country like ours again.

I want to be the president [applause] who will be a voice for people like Martin Toler, who was the foreman in the Sago Mine where the explosion happened January the 2nd of 2006.  As the last minutes of oxygen began to run out in that Sago Mine, Martin Toler wrote a note to his family that was later found by those who recovered the bodies of the twelve miners lost in that incident.  The note read: "Tell them I'll see them on the other side.  It wasn't bad.  I just went to sleep.  I love you."  That mine had numerous safety violations, more than three times the national average it had.  Martin Toler spent his life digging through the dirt and the grime of the coal to give our country energy.  He's gone now.  I want to be a president who will speak up for the Martin Tolers of the world, who work awfully hard to make our lives better but who get forgotten at a moment when we need them the most.

I want to be the president for a guy like Jonathan Schulze, a 25-year old Marine, served in the Iraqi War, earned two Purple Hearts.  On January 11th of this year Jonathan Schulze packed a photo of his baby daughter and his Bible in his duffle bag and he drove 75 miles to the V.A. Medical Center in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

He walked in that day and he said he was feeling suicidal.  He had seen 16 of his fellow Marines killed in Iraq.  And when he told them that he was feeling suicidal, they told him they were filled up.  There was just no room for him.  They sent him home.  He drove the 75 miles back to his home.  The next day he got on the telephone and he called.  And he said, I'm feeling suicidal.  What can you do?  And they said, sir, you're number 26 and we only have 12 beds.  It'll be a while; we'll call you.


For four days Jonathan Schulze held on and he fought the toughest battle of his life.  He had fought battles in Ramadi; he'd fought battles in Fallujah, but now he was fighting the toughest one he every fought, and four days later he couldn't fight it any longer and Jonathan Schulze took his own life.  Ladies and gentlemen, I want to be president for the people like Jonathan Schulze, who when this country asked him to give his all, he answered that call and he did it.  But when he asked our country to give what had been promised to him and the assistance that he had earned and deserved, he was told to wait in line like he was at a bakery.  And ladies and gentlemen that should never, ever, ever happen again.  [applause].

We can't allow the resources of this country to ever be used if they're not first used for the people who have guaranteed our freedom the most.  He didn't die because we lacked the resources; he died because of incompetence, indifference and old-fashioned greed.

There are a lot of cracks in our system.  I believe our party, if we get back to our principles, has the capacity to fix those cracks and give this country once again the optimistic and resilient leadership that Americans not only depend on us for but deserve to have.

[There are] some good folks walking across this stage tonight all asking to be your president.  I'm one of them.  I hope I'll be the person you decide that could lead this country and articulate who we are and what we stand for, and I promise if I get that position I'll not only remember where I come from, but I'll remember to be a voice for the people like Little Miracle, for Martin Toler, for Jonathan Schulze and for folks like you and your children.  Thank you for letting us be here tonight.  God bless you and God bless this great country of ours.  Thank you.  [applause].

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Time: 13:00