WASHINGTON – Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee urged Republicans to stop attacking each other and instead focus on defeating the Democrats in the upcoming elections.
In a luncheon speech Thursday at the Republican National Committee winter meeting in Washington, Huckabee criticized Democrats for portraying women as “helpless” individuals whose only goal in life is for the government to provide for them birth control.
“If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it,” he said. “Let us take that discussion all across America because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked about Huckabee’s comments and whether that indeed is the president’s message. “I haven’t seen that report, but whoever said it, sounds offensive to me and to women,” Carney said.
Huckabee also made some comments in reference to the ongoing political battles over reproductive rights in which the Democrats have consistently called the Republican Party’s position a “war on women.”
“Republicans no longer accept listening to Democrats talk about a ‘war on women,’” he said. “Republicans don’t have a war on women. [We] have a war for women – for them to be empowered to be something other than victims of their gender.”
Huckabee, a onetime pastor and current Fox News talk show host, urged the GOP to be more aggressive on income inequality and said Republicans should get involved in the debate about poverty and other issues that some conservatives think the GOP should shy away from.
“Let’s talk about the fact that the party that has preached poverty and how to fix it has led this country to spend $20.7 trillion in current dollars since 1964…and today more people are impoverished than when we started the war on poverty,” he said.
Huckabee said poverty cannot be eradicated until you bring to people a sense of “hope and optimism.”
“Real hope and optimism comes when people can get an education and get a job, and going beyond the life the government wants them to live,” he said.
He said the Republican Party should strive to build a country based on the notion that people willing to work hard will be able to get ahead.
“You cannot build an economy as long as you’re punishing productivity and rewarding reckless irresponsibility,” Huckabee said.
Huckabee also sent a message to conservative groups who are supporting efforts to defeat elected Republicans.
He said the GOP is poised to increase its numbers in the House and the Senate, but only if Republicans can stop attacking each other.
“The only thing that would keep us from seeing that happening is if we’d decide that we’d rather fight each other than to fight for the people of this country that deserve a different and better kind of government than what Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi have given them,” Huckabee said.
He also dismissed the term “RINO,” which stands for “Republican In Name Only.”
“Let’s stop calling each other somehow less Republican than someone else,” he said.
Huckabee has criticized Tea Party activists and other conservative groups for attacking other Republicans as RINOs to suggest they are not committed to conservative principles.
He said the differences between Republicans are “minute” compared to those they have with Democrats.
“If you are with me 90, 80, even 70 percent of the time, you’re still 70 percent closer to me than I am to Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama,” he said.
Before delivering his speech, Huckabee spoke to reporters about his possible campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
Huckabee, the runner-up in the 2008 GOP presidential primary, said he has received more calls to run in 2016 than he received in 2012 when he decided not to run because of personal reasons.
“The encouragement has been much stronger than I would have anticipated,” he said.