- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 7, 2007

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said yesterday that Christian conservatives will become “irrelevant” to the political process if they give up their core convictions for expediency”s sake.

“Christian conservatives are on the brink of becoming irrelevant in this election cycle if they do not remain active because they really believe something about their faith that drives them into the political arena,” he said in remarks made at a Pew Forum press conference.

Typically, Christians have entered the political arena out of concern for the family, to stop abortion and because of other issues that “really emanate from our faith,” he said. “If they say those issues are not as important this time; if they say the real issues are taxes or national security, then frankly, they are just another Republican special interest group.”

Mr. Huckabee, 51, is one of the most outspokenly evangelical candidates in a crowded Republican field. An ordained Southern Baptist minister who became a Christian at age 10 at a vacation Bible school, he decided to enter politics in 1992. After a failed U.S. Senate race in Arkansas, he won a special election to become the state”s lieutenant governor in 1993 and became governor in 1996.

Yesterday”s remarks were on how his religion affected his politics during his 10-year tenure as governor.

“How did we handle 75,000 evacuees that came to our state in the course of five days when Hurricane Katrina hit?” he asked. “I promise you, faith guided me through all of that, not just in terms of my compassion for the people I saw. … I determined we were not going to treat these people like boxes … stacking them up in some sports arena and calling that rescue.”

Instead, he got church leaders to open up camp and conference sites across the state to house refugees.

“It went back to the simple prescription: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” he said, quoting Luke 6:31.

Mr. Huckabee, who barely registers in national polls, is hoping that the Republican Party”s evangelical base is unhappy with the current leaders in the race and that there might be room for a traditional-values candidate. Not only does he oppose abortion and same-sex “marriage,” he also believes creationism should be taught in schools alongside evolution.

In a presentation filled with humorous one-liners and references to his less-than-stellar showing compared with the party”s presidential front-runners, he said money is driving the media”s perception of who can win.

“[It happens] every time when the ‘fair and balanced” Fox News network puts candidates” names on the screen that says ‘2008 election” and they only list three,” he said. “And when the others of us are busting our backsides every day to be one of those guys? It perpetuates the idea there”s only three choices.

“This whole process is being driven solely by money and not by message. … If we”re not careful, we”re leading this country not towards a presidency but to a plutocracy. I am not sure that”s where we want to be.”

Interviewers, he said, constantly toss him “God questions” during candidates” forums such Tuesday”s debate in Manchester, N.H.

“I wasn”t sure whether I was being interviewed to be president of the United States or chaplain of the Senate,” he added.

“If you want to know what makes me tick,” he said, “to understand me and [my] decision processes, do it in the context of my faith. I sometimes marvel when people running for office are asked about faith and their answer is, ‘Oh, I don”t get into that. I keep that completely separate. My faith is completely immaterial to how I think and how I govern.” To me that”s really tantamount to saying, ‘My faith is so marginal, so insignificant, so inconsequential, that it really doesn”t impact the way I live.” I”d consider that an extraordinarily shallow faith.”