Mike Huckabee, Former Presidential Candidate, Headlines Annual Lincoln Day Dinner
BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
Keeping the United States on its feet requires maintaining three elements: food, fuel and the ability to fight.
Those key factors were the highlights of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's Friday address to guests of the Greene County Republican Women's Club.
Huckabee became a household name during his 2008 bid for the Republican presidential nomination, easily winning Tennessee's vote.
Recent political chatter concerning Huckabee's potential run for the Oval Office in 2016 has been heating up. A Politico poll earlier this week ranked him as the top Republican contender.
However, Huckabee deferred attention from his political aspirations, pointing instead to 2014 and his desire to see more Republicans in the U.S. Senate.
"This is an important year," he said. "2016 -- it will come soon enough. People ask me, am I going to run?
"The honest answer is, I don't know right now," he added.
"But this I do know: When I ran before, in the primary, the people of Tennessee gave me their vote, and I often say, if the rest of America had been as smart as Tennessee, we would not be in the mess we're in!"
His popularity with those attending Friday's annual Lincoln Day Dinner at the General Morgan Inn was evident not only in the standing ovation they gave him, but also by the packed-out ballroom, which featured tables filling even the hallways outside open doors.
More than 200 Republicans from across East Tennessee came out to hear Huckabee, along with U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, of Johnson City.
FOCUS ON JOBS
Highlighting the need for jobs and fewer government handouts, Huckabee expressed a distaste for President Barack Obama's policies.
After an extensive round of praise for Alexander and Roe, the former governor dived into his speech with a critique of Obama's recent State of Union address, saying that it offered no new ideas to address the 92 million Americans without jobs.
"That's staggering," he said. "Many of the people who are working are working part-time when they want to be, need to be and were working full-time jobs."
Huckabee summarized Obama's plan to fix the situation as putting more people on government benefits.
"People without work don't want another year of unemployment," he said. "They'd like to have the next several years in employment."
He further criticized the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, as coming between doctors and their patients and made several joking jabs at the National Security Agency's surveillance.
FOOD, FUEL, FIGHT
At the core of his speech, however, were those three key elements: food, fuel and the ability to fight.
"A nation that cannot feed itself is not free, because a nation that must depend on someone else to put food on its table is a slave to whoever it is that's putting the food on its table," he said. "It is high time that we never apologize for standing with those in rural America who farm the land, who make it possible for us to have the food and the fiber that keeps us alive."
He heavily criticized the cost of fuel and, in his view, the under-utilization of the nation's own natural gas, coal and oil resources. Huckabee said that the nation should do everything it can do to be energy independent.
Turning the focus once again directly back to jobs, Huckabee concluded by highlighting the need to maintain manufacturing industries within the United States.
"We cannot fight for ourselves if we cannot manufacture our own weapons of defense," he said.
"God help us if we can't feed ourselves, fuel ourselves and fight for ourselves."
Also speaking on Friday were Alexander and Roe.
Roe excitedly noted that the House plans to bring an alternate proposal to Obamacare to the floor during this spring session. Roe chaired the Republican committee that formed the new proposal.
He further noted that House Republicans are unlikely to address immigration in the coming session, saying that there is a lack of trust in how the president would manage the issue.
Alexander highlighted many similar issues, including the national debt and ACA, saying that the nation could take a lesson from the economics and policies he implemented locally when he was governor of Tennessee.
Alexander introduced Huckabee, saying that Huckabee would have the support of many in another presidential bid.
"We just like Mike," Alexander said.