Editor's note: Below are the video and transcript of remarks given by Mike Huckabee at the David Horowitz Freedom Center's 2018 Restoration Weekend. The event was held Nov. 15th-18th at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida.
Thank you. Well, thank you very much. It is a delight to be with you. You don't have to worry about me going over the time today, because I've got to catch a flight out of here, get to D.C. to guest host the Sean Hannity show, because the FBI's looking for him and I need to go in and fill in. Of course, the bad news is, they're looking for me too. So, please don't tell them I'm going in to D.C. There's a lot of those guys up there. Andrew, don't tell them. I know you've got a lot of contacts in there. It is a delight to be with you, and I want to say thanks also for the introduction, because he actually mentioned some biographical things about me, which are unimportant, but these days I don't get that anymore. I used to. You know, he was governor this time. He did this. He did that. Now, most of the introductions I get are, "Ladies and gentlemen, Sarah's dad", and that's it. That's the whole thing.
And, as you can see, the mere mention of her name gets four times the applause I got for showing up. But people ask me all the time, where does she get that toughness, and sometimes I'll say, "Have you ever met her mother?" Never say that when Janet is around. But there is an honest explanation for it, and it's pretty simple. She had two older brothers who were unbelievably mean to her. Really. They once super-glued her fingers together. That was a trip to the emergency room late one night. They once gave her a big glass of mud and told her it was a chocolate milkshake, and so, when you see what the press is doing to her, she's used to it, and, in fact, if anything, it made her tough, and she, even to this day, she will say, "I'm so glad my brothers were as mean to me as they were, because it made me learn how to fight", and she does, and I love how she does it.
By the way, I may have said this when I was here 2 years ago, but I want to just make it real clear. Donald Trump was not my first choice for president. I was my first choice for president, just to get that out of the way. But the good news is we did get a Huckabee in the White House. It just wasn't the one that I thought it was going to be, but I think she's doing a great job for the President. She takes nothing off those guys. Now, I know many of you have been in the meeting. You may not have heard it, and this is not a punchline. This actually happened, but the federal judge ruled just about an hour and a half or 2 hours ago that Jim Acosta from CNN is going to get his hard pass back to the White House. Yeah. I was just as excited as you are. The good news is, the judge did not rule it on First Amendment grounds, because that would've been ludicrous. There is no First Amendment case. Jim Acosta and CNN, his failing network, is free to say anything they want, and he is not inhibited by the government to report. If he were, he would've shut up a long time ago. But it was on Fifth Amendment grounds saying that there was not a process in place to deny his hard pass.
What I hope happens is an energy saving measure by the White House will be announced soon. They will permanently turn off the lights in the press briefing room, and it will stay dark until they decide they're going to behave like adults and not go in there like a bunch of wild people. And I did wonder to myself, I wonder what would happen if Jim Acosta went into the federal courtroom and pulled a stunt to the federal judge like he did to the elected President of the United States. If had gone into the federal courthouse and said, "I challenge you, judge," and then when the judge said, "You're going to need to sit down, sir," he wouldn't do it, and twice more he was asked to sit down and he didn't do it, and finally the bailiff comes over to get the microphone and Acosta pushes his arm away, and basically all but eats the microphone so nobody else can have it, I wonder if that had happened in a federal courtroom if the judge who was so understanding of Acosta's being the southbound end of a north mule, I wonder if the federal judge would have been as understanding and as accommodating as he was when Acosta acted that way toward the President of the United States in the White House. My guess is no, and thus sort of forms the frame of what I would share with you today.
I don't have to tell you we're living in divisive and combative times, but I also would be the first to say that one of the reasons that I think that many people, even some never Trumpers, and there were a lot of them out there, have come around to the President is because despite whatever you think about him on a personal level, he does fight back, and we are in a time where we have to. As I said, Donald Trump was not my first choice, but to the surprise of a lot of people, he was my second choice for President. He really was, and when I left the race, which I had to do because of illness, people were sick of me and I had to get out, but when I left the race, I endorsed Donald Trump, and again there were a lot of people who were shocked by that, and they said, "Why?" You know? You would think that I would have endorsed one of the other evangelicals or someone else, maybe with a kinder manner about them, and I said, "Look, here's part of it. He's the only person that I feel like on that stage that is not already obligated to the donor class, because he's financed his on primary. When he becomes President, there aren't a thousand donors, all of whom have their hooks in him and will begin to really direct him more than he will be able to direct the policies of the country." And I said, "That's part of it." The second is because I felt like that of all the people on the stage, including President Trump, no one knew Hillary better than me, but because I did know her as well as I did and do, I was convinced that there was no other person other than Donald Trump who would be able to take her on in the matter in which was going to be necessary to win.
Now, little did I know that she would not show up for many of the states in the election and decide that she didn't really need to campaign that hard, because she had it in the bag, and she was busy signing checks to get her fireworks show all set for election night, but that being said, I think what we saw in this President was that unlike so many of us kind and gentle Republicans, who in our own congenial way end up getting our heads handed to us because we think we're all playing to the same rules and we find out the other side is not, President Trump, if hit, will hit back ten times harder, and sometimes people don't like that, but here's what I've discovered standing up on the debate stage with him. People would say, "How come you never challenged him?" I said, "Well, there's two reasons. First of all, I didn't get up there and argue with any of the other Republicans for a simple reason. One of us was going to win, and whoever won needed the support of the others, and I did not want to have to claim that these guys that I had said horrible things about now were great guys." I said, "Then that's disingenuous, so you have to battle that." And I said, "The other reason was these guys aren't my enemies. They're my political opponents for the primary, but any one of us on that stage would have been infinitely better every day of the week and twice on Sunday than having Hillary in the White House would have been." And that's why.
When I look at the judicial appointments alone that the President has made, two on the Supreme Court and dozens in the federal judicial system, if for no other reason, and add to that the relocation of the embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, which I thought was a gutsy and wonderful move, and throw in the tax cuts and throw in the deregulation that has resulted in the doubling of the GDP growth and a significant increase of people having a better paycheck than they've had in many years, and the fact that we have more African-American and Hispanics employed and in better jobs than have been for African-Americans ever in history, for Hispanics the best probably ever, and for women in 30 years and the list could go on, throw those things in there and I can tolerate come 5:00 a.m. tweets that sometimes are cringe-worthy, okay? And if that's the worst thing I can say about him, I'd rather have a President who occasionally will either say or tweet something that is not the way I would say it, but he's getting the job done that we sent him there to do. And this is why I think many of us continue to support this President.
I've had friends of mine who will try to argue with me about support for the President. Here's how I respond. Suppose you have been diagnosed with a very serious disease that is going to require surgery that could, in fact, take your life, and there's two doctors that you must choose from to do the surgery, and one of the doctors comes in and he's the kindest guy in the world. He comes and sits on the edge of the bed. He hugs your wife. He sheds a tear as he describes how serious this is. He answers all the questions that every family member has, and he's gentle. He's kind and he's just the most thoughtful guy, and before he leaves he hugs you and hugs everybody else. The other guy comes in. He throws everybody out of the room. He says, "I ain't got time to answer a lot of questions. Look, I'm just here to tell you how this goes down," and he's gruff. He's rude. He's caustic. He insults your wife, and he has the bedside manner of a porcupine, but he's done that surgery 1,200 times, and 1,100 of his patients have survived. The other guy has done it 9 times, and 8 of them died. You tell me who you'd pick to be your surgeon, and that's how I look at President Trump in the White House. His bedside manner may leave something to be desired from time to time, but I sure do like the results, because folks, I want to keep our country. It's as simple as that. I want to keep the United States of America as the great republic that we have inherited.
A week ago, I had on my television show that I host every weekend on the Trinity Broadcasting Network a 95-year-old World War II Congressional Medal of Honor recipient. I still, I just am in awe of some of these guys that handed me my freedom. I'm overwhelmed by what they did. When I read the stories of the Medal of Honor recipients, but for that matter, even if a guy served back in the States or anywhere, I realize I am the beneficiary of the most amazing sacrifices in the history of humankind, people who did it not because there was a gun to the back of their head if they didn't move forward, not because they were slave labor, but because they chose to serve this country and to keep the battle for our freedom somewhere else other than in the streets where we live, and thank God for them.
But I fear if we don't see the willingness to fight back against the so-called resistance, and I wonder what is it they're resisting? Are they resisting liberty? Are they resisting freedom of speech? Are they resisting property ownership? And the answer is, yes. They're resisting all of those things. The whole notion of changing our great Constitutional Republic, a nation of law where we elect our public officials, and if the person we voted for didn't succeed, we suck it up and say we'll do better next time. We don't try to delegitimize every election we lose, whether by arguing that it really shouldn't have happened or we didn't get the popular vote or just being, I guess, here in Palm Beach County, or next door in Broward County, and just keep counting votes until we come up with enough, even if we have to dig them out of a trunk of a car or a warehouse somewhere.
Folks, this is a dangerous place for America to be. The single greatest threat to us in my view is that we don't respect the results of our elections. That, singularly, threatens our republic, and for 2 years we've heard about Russian interference. We've got to stop these Russians from interfering, and I don't want the Russians interfering any more than I want us interfering, as we did under Barack Obama with the election of Bebe Netanyahu in Israel, when we spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars trying to defeat him under the Obama administration. I don't remember the same level of anger and angst over the U.S. Government involving themselves in that election, but the Russians have not proven not to have turned one vote in the 2016 elections.
But what I do worry about is that U.S. election officials and U.S. political figures trying to change the results of an election, either by ignoring the fundamental law of which our elections are held by going through some of their process by which they can overturn the election by finding new balance, claiming that the whole point is to know the intent of the voter. Look, if a voter is not competent enough to mark the ballot correctly, the intent of the voter is to be stupid, and I think at that point you throw the ballot out, and you say when you learn how to vote like a big boy, or a big girl, then you bring your ballot in, but if you mark it so that you mark everybody on it, you don't get to after the election come in and say, "You know, I think I intended to vote for this guy." It shouldn't be that hard.
I want to preserve this country, because like so many of you in this room, this country has been good to me, better to me than I ever could have imagined, and I owe it more than just being a participant occasionally and a deserver for the most part. I know where I come from. I grew up dirt poor in a little insignificant town in south Arkansas that you would never heard of had Bill Clinton not run for President. Yes, I to believe in a place called Hope. So, but I actually grew up there. Clinton was born there. He moved when he was 5, but you have to understand, he moved to another town in Arkansas where he really grew up, but it would not have sounded as good in the '92 campaign, particularly given his reputation, if he had made his speech and said, "I believe in a place called Hot Springs, huh." So, as a result, people knew where Hope was suddenly, but nobody did when I was growing up.
But, I come from a family that were not significant, major people in the community that everyone wanted to talk to. My mother and dad both grew up in the depression. I feel like I did, because I heard those stories so many times, I thought, my gosh. Some of you heard them too, walking to school uphill both ways, carrying their homemade lunch in a bucket, walking through snow, even though it never snowed in south Arkansas. I mean, I heard all these stories and I though, oh, my gosh, but then I got older and found out they were really, a lot of them, true. My mother grew up in a house that didn't have a floor. It was just dirt. Dirt. It had a roof, no floor. Dirt. No electricity, no running water, just a shelter. She was the oldest of seven and had to work from the time she was a young teenager just to help keep food on the table for her six brothers and sisters.
My dad grew up in a time when he also had to work to help the family have food. These weren't people who were working to get a Ferrari. These were folks who were working just to survive. My dad never finished high school, and his father had never finished high school, and his father before him hadn't, and on and on it goes. In fact, I am the first male in my entire family lineage to have ever graduated high school, much less gone to college. So, when people want to talk about the America dream, I've lived it. At the age of 8, I remember my dad said to me, "Son, I'm gonna take you down to this new lake that the State's built, and the governor's gonna come down here and make a dedication, and he'll make a talk, and I'm gonna take you down there to hear the governor make his talk, 'cause son, you may live your whole life and you may never see a governor in person.
I still vividly remember going down at 8 years old and seeing the then Governor of Arkansas come and make that talk, and I got to shake his hand and my dad said, "Now, son, you cherish this, because that's probably the only time you're ever gonna see a governor." You would never have been able to convince my father that one day his son would spend more time living in the Governor's mansion than any house that I've lived in so far in my life. I don't think he would have believed that. But, like so many people who built this country, he didn't ask the country to do a lot for him. He never accepted a penny of relief or welfare. He worked two jobs. He was a fireman, and he worked 24 hours on 24 off, and on the 24 hours that he was not at the fire station, he was a mechanic and working on cars in a shop standing on his feet on a concrete floor and lifting heavy things and getting his hands dirty. And I've told people, "Look, my father, that's all he knew. Hard, hard work."
And I'll bet some of you had fathers like mine who worked with his hands and got his hands dirty and never could scrub them completely clean, and I've watched him scrub them, so I knew he tried, but there was always the residue of his work that never could get out of his hands, and I'm going to tell you something. I grew up, and the only soap we had in my house when I was a kid was Lava soap. Many of you in this room do not understand what that means, but let me try to describe it. Here's the deal. I was in college before I learned it isn't supposed to hurt when you take a shower. What a revelation that was. And we're at this marvelous hotel at The Breakers in Palm Beach, and my guess is that some of the ladies who are here will spend some time at the spa, and they may even spend a couple of hundred bucks and have an exfoliation. A bar of Lava will do the exact same thing. But to the husbands here, let me recommend, do not next Valentine's present your wife with a bar of Lava soap and say, "Here, honey. Go exfoliate yourself," 'cause skin's comin' off of you and Lava won't even be involved with it.
That was my life. And, as a kid, I used to have to do the things that a kid had to do. If I wanted BBs for my BB gun, or if I wanted a baseball or a baseball glove, there was no parent writing a check or saying, "Here, here's my credit card. Go down and get one." It was, "Well, kid, good luck. Go find a way to make the money." So, whether it was collecting pop bottles or doing some other things, and when I was too young to get a real job that puts you on the clock, 7, 8, 9 years old, the only job you could get was catching chickens. Now, some of you have not lived in an area that is prevalent with poultry. Can I just tell you something? There aren't many things in this world worse than going out at 10:00 at night and working all night long in a chicken house chasing chickens, catching them, and putting them in those old wooden crates so they could be hauled off so that you could have one at the Colonel's house. I'm telling you, it's the most God-awful thing, and every time I'd do that, I'd always say, "What do I have to do so I don't have to do this for the rest of my life, and the answer was always the same. Get a good education, work hard, treat people right. So, I can tell you at an early age, I said, "I don't know how I'm going to do it, but I'm going to get an education, I'm going to work hard, and I'm going to do my best to treat people right." That's the old-fashioned, American formula, to do better than the generation before you, and to pass something on to the next one.
And folks, I said all of those things for the simple reason that the battle that we are in now is not a battle so that Republicans can win over Democrats. I could care less what the labels are. I really could. I care a lot about what kind of country my kids, and now my six grandchildren are going to have, and if we don't fight back, and if we don't stand tall, and if we don't do something significant to protect our Constitutional form of government, and I believe that next to the Holy Bible, the Constitution is the most inspired document on planet Earth that gives us the framework for house civilized people can and should live under a system of law. And it's existed, and it has thrived, and as a country we have thrived because of it, and before we let people shred it before our very eyes, and I hope you believe that we've got to stand up and fight for our system of government and for the processes that gave every one of us in the room the extraordinary privilege and blessing to be citizens of the greatest nation on God's green Earth, the United States of America. That's what's at stake, folks.
I don't want a single young American growing up in poverty. My hope and dream would be that no kid would ever sleep in a car under a bridge at night. My hope and prayer is that no wife or child would ever be on the receiving end of a beating from some abusive husband and father. My hope and dream is that no father would ever have to go home empty handed and not have a paycheck with which he could pay the rent and put food on the table and be able to say we're going to have a decent life. I don't want there to be ever a family who has a child with a developmental disability that can't get the access to being able to take care of that child without losing every last dime they have, because I'm not a heartless person. I've often said I did not grow up sitting at a head table. I grew up more comfortable with the people working in the kitchen, not the folks at the head table. I had to learn how to sit at the head table. I knew explicitly well how to work the floor. I want every America to grow up with the belief and understanding that there are no limits, except the ones that we impose upon ourselves. And I want no one, ever, to be limited because of their color, their gender, their geographical backgrounds and where they've come from, who their father was how much land their family owned. It means sometimes we have to work a little harder. Maybe there aren't the advantages, but folks, the United States of America is not about guaranteeing us an outcome. It's guaranteeing us the right to fight for one. That's all I've ever asked, and it's all I would ask for the rest of my fellow Americans. But when we have people who are now talking about giving everybody a guaranteed income, regardless of whether or not they work for it, we lose this country.
When we talk about that we change the whole idea of what it means to be even male or female, then we start losing our minds. When we live in a culture that thinks that somehow the greatest way to protect a woman is to take life of the child within her, and end its life, arbitrarily, which is not only an affront to the baby, it's an incredible affront to the birth mother as well, and as a pro-life person, I want to make sure that we are very clear that there are two victims in every time Planned Parenthood is successful in taking taxpayer money and using it, because it's an injury to the baby, but it's also an injury to that woman who probably was talked into it, and we need to love both.
So, I say to you today, it's time for us to be polite, to be good people, to be gracious. I never, ever, ever would encourage people who believe like we believe to go into someone's neighborhood and go bang on their door and scream. I would never, ever suggest that we go to a restaurant and yell at people while they're trying to have dinner with their families; that we would go to them, as Maxine Waters suggested, at the restaurants, the service stations, the malls, wherever and get in their faces and scream at them. That's not the conduct of civilized people. I never suggest we do that. But here's what I do suggest. I suggest we work really hard to make sure that the elections are fair and they're just. And I strongly urge that we get on the front lines of battle and we don't give up and we don't surrender and the values and the things that we know make America a truly great place to live and the place that people from around the world want to come to that we yield not 1 inch of the territory, and that we take a lesson from our current President, and we recognize that this is no time for subtle surrender. This is a time for principled fighting for the things that we value and that we hold dear.
Several years ago, Mike Levitt was Governor of Utah and invited me and a couple of other governors to go out the Salt Lake City. It was February 2001, exactly 1 year before the Olympics would be held in February of 2002. And he invited us to come out for a conference and so we all came out that evening and we spoke, and the next day we were supposed to have a special activity, and he got up at the end of it and he just said, "Now, folks, tomorrow, we're going to go out to Olympic Village just outside of Salt Lake. You will be some of the first people to see it." It's not officially open, but the athletes are there and they're training, and we're going to go out and experience Olympic Village 1 year before the Olympics come to our state. And he said, "And we have a special treat for you. The special treat is we're going to have the Governor's bobsled competition." And that caught my ear and I thought, "What?" And, I thought, well, I guess what they're going to do is name bobsleds after each of the governors and we will cheer them on, and the more he talked, the more I realized, he was talking as if we were going to be in a bobsled.
Now, as I told you, I grew up south Arkansas. We didn't have snow almost ever there, so I'd never seen a bobsled in person, ever. The only bobsled I had any vision of was on ABC's Wild World of Sports that ran on Saturdays, and they had this ski jumper that would gracefully jump and make this wonderful landing, and they'd say, "The thrill of victory," and then you'd see this bobsled go careening off the side of a mountain, and the announcer would say, "And the agony of defeat." And I'm thinking that guy probably got capitated in that bobsled for God's sake. And so I go up to Levitt afterwards and I said, "Now, you're not serious. We're not going to actually be a in a bobsled, are we?" He said, "Yeah, yeah, but don't worry about it. We're going to get you some training before you do it." I didn't sleep that night. And the only thing I could find out a bobsled was that a bobsled can go up to 95 miles an hour. I asked Levitt about that. He said, "Well, you guys aren't professionals. You probably won't get yours over 75." That was a real comfort to know that.
And we get up there the next day to Olympic Village and here's my training. They pair me with a 16-year-old junior Olympic athlete, who's going to teach me how to drive the bobsled. Look, no offense, but I don't want to learn how to drive anything from a 16-year-old boy. Nothing. And the training was putting spikes on my boots, and we started at the bottom of the 1‑mile track of the bobsled, which is nothing but a sheet of ice, and the kid walks me from the bottom to the top with those spiked boots, and at each of the 12 curves in the bobsled track, he tells me where I need to put the skids. Like, I'm gonna remember this. And we get to No. 12 and he says, "This is, like, No. 12. And, like, when we get to this curve, you need to, like, put the skids, like, right here, 'cause, if we, like, put the skids up here, then we could go off, and if you put the skids way down here, then we'll, like, bounce back and forth against the wall, and that'll hurt." And then we get to No. 11. He goes through the same thing on No. 10 and all the way up to the top. By the time we get to the top, I'm hyperventilating.
First of all, I'm exhausted. I've just climbed a mile up a sheet of ice, and secondly, now I'm terrified. I'm pretty sure that that night on the news, here is the headline. "And in Utah, Governor of Arkansas tragically killed trying to drive a bobsled." So, I get to the top, and there are a couple of guys, and they're the attendants that are going to squeeze me down into the bobsled and the kid's job, he's the brakeman, which makes no sense, because there is no brake on a bobsled. And he said, "Now, here's what we're gonna do. I'm gonna push off. I'll jump in, and then I realize there is no brake, so all he does is hold on for dear lie. I've got to drive it. And the guy's up at the top says, "Well, Governor, are you ready?" Oh, they were so chipper. And I said, "Ready for what? To meet Jesus. I mean, come on, guys. This is not a good thing here." And they get me down, but just before we go down, the kid says something I'll never forget.
He said, "Now, when we come off the top, you're gonna see the first curve. And as soon as you see it, steer for it, because we're gonna be picking up speed pretty quickly." Of that, I was certain. And he said, "As soon as you see the curve, steer for it," and by the time you've reacted to it, you'll be in the curve." And he said, "If, if you think you've made a mistake, never think behind you. Never look behind you, because the ice behind you can't hurt you." The implication is, the ice in front of you still can. He said, "And if you are in the curve, don't try to correct everything, because centrifugal force is going to be controlling the bobsled in the curve. Ride it out, but don't try to over correct, because you can't. But as soon as you come out of the curve, you'll see the next curve, and when you do, steer for it, and you'll be fine."
And his basic advice was simple. Steer for the curve ahead. That was it. And by the way, I came in second only to Levitt, which I think he cheated, because he was the host governor. I'm pretty sure he did, but I lived, because I listed to this piece of advice. Steer for the curve ahead. And I got to thinking about it, the kid had no idea of the profundity of that statement, but I say to you, it was extraordinarily wise advise, not only for driving a bobsled, but being a governor, being a husband, being a father, owning a business. Quit worrying about the things behind us. Can't fix it. Can't change it. Not a thing I can do to make it different. Don't try to fix everything at one time. Can't do it. The centrifugal force of nature itself is such that if you think you can just make everything happen in an event, you cannot, but there's one thing that we can and one thing that we must do, and that would be my advice for America today.
Steer for the curve ahead, and let's win. God bless you. Thank you very, very much.