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September 3, 2015 CLP Forum Transcript

Note: Official YouTube Video Linked Through Subheadings in Transcript

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON:  Alright, morning, afternoon, good day? We’ll say good day. How is everyone doing? First off, I am Alan Wilson, state Attorney General and I want to welcome everyone here to the Conservative Leadership Project Presidential Forum. This is the first in a sixteen forum series that’s going to try to present all the Presidential candidates on the Republican side who are coming through South Carolina, which is the first in the South presidential primary, and as you know with the exception, we usually pick Presidential nominees for the general election. But as you watch all the Presidential candidates coming in, you see a lot of questions being asked-a lot of high profile, hot button, hot topic issues-but the one thing I’ve always tried to drive home, and something that doesn’t get as much press time, is that four of the nine Supreme Court Justices were born in the 1930s. In the first four years of the next President of the United States, four-nearly half of the Supreme Court-will be in their eighties which means the next president could pick nearly half of the Supreme Court Justices for the United States, which could, in effect, change the footprint of our country for generations-even beyond the lifespans of the people in this room. And so I wanted to give you all the opportunity-wherever you are, whatever your beliefs are, whoever you choose to support for President, it’s important that you have an idea of how the presidential candidates view their role in the executive branch as both the Commander in Chief and the CEO of the United States of America and how that relates to the authority of the states. These are very important questions that I’m sure many of you want to know. Before I ask Governor Huckabee to come out here, I would like just to thank a couple of individuals. First, Winthrop University for the wonderful venue, for hosting the CLP with our presidential forum, we really appreciate this university and all of its officials. I would like to thank President Dan Mahoney, his wife Laura, Dr. Jeff Perez, Dr. Mark Heron, who’s the CR adviser and Chief Frank Zapados, who is the police chief here for the University of Winthrop. We appreciate all of the officials for making us feel so at home here today. Now we also have some elected dignitaries, and whenever you start to introduce people, it’s a name game. And everybody here is important, I almost want to say ‘If you think you’re important, stand up and-’ or I should say ‘If you think you’re important, stay seated, if you think you’re unimportant, stand up and applaud everyone else who’s seated.’ But I do want to at least introduce a few of your elected representatives and officials, and I will do that right now. We have with us today, first the York GOP Chairman, Wes Climer. We have judiciary chairman of the House of Representatives, Greg Delaney. We have Speaker Pro Tempore of the House of Representatives, Tommy Pope. We have Representative Gary Simrill. We also have Lancaster County council member Brian Carnes. We also have York Sheriff, Bruce Bryant. I want to thank Brielle Appelbaum and all of the interns and the staff members at the CLP for putting this on, and all of the many people, I want to thank the media for showing up. Now that I’ve done all of my introductory remarks I would like to go ahead and have all of you give a warm welcome to the first presidential candidate in this series, former governor Mike Huckabee. Governor, welcome, we’re glad to have you here today.

GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: Well thank you, delighted to be here and I’m so happy somebody showed up. I wasn’t sure, this is great.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON:  Governor, we have a wide array of individuals here: we have students, we have folks of all ages, all backgrounds, here to hear about your candidacy for the President of the United States. I’d like to ask you to just take one moment to introduce yourself to the crowd before we jump into the questions.

GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: I was born in a little town called Hope, Arkansas. You may have heard of it only because Bill Clinton was also born there. He moved away when he was a little kid, I stayed. He’s older than me-by a lot, but it is kind of an unusual moment of history for America, a little piece of trivia that might win a game someday. The only time in all of American history where a sitting president and a sitting governor came from the same hometown birthplace was Bill Clinton and me: Hope, Arkansas when I was governor and he was president. The only time this happened, we thought it’d be New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, it was a little town of 8,000 people called Hope, Arkansas. I was governor of Arkansas for ten and a half years, lieutenant governor before that, and in my previous life before politics some twenty five years ago, I served as a pastor in a Baptist Church. That taught me how to be tough and mean, preparing me for politics in a way nothing else could, and my first career was actually advertising and radio and television, and that was what I did when I was a young adult. So I’ve had experience in the private sector, the non-profit sector, and then in the public sector. For the last six years, I went back to that original experience of radio and television, hosting a daily commentary on 600 radio stations and then doing a show on the Fox News Channel. I want to just mention this to the Attorney General-it’s really hard to run for office, it’s a challenge. It’s even harder to serve in public office, especially if you’re governor, you’re responsible for a state. I’m going to let you all in on something, some of you are deciding what you want to be later in life. The easiest job I ever had was not running for office, it wasn’t holding office, it was being on TV and talking about the people who ran for office and who held office and I’m going to let you in on this-it paid better than anything I’ve ever done in my life. So there is a question, what on Earth am I doing, doing this all over again? But I look forward to the exchange with you today.

On Judicial Philosophy

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON:  Thank you Governor, and as you recall in my opening remarks, I talked about how the president is going to have such a powerful impact on leaving a footprint in the United States for generations to come in the way that the President has such an important role in the selection of Supreme Court Justices. As you know over the next several years in the first term of the next President of the United States, four of the nine Supreme Court Justices who were born in the 1930s will be over eighty years old. Meaning that the next President of the United States could pick up to four members of the Supreme Court. What we want to know, are a couple of things. First off, what is your overarching judicial philosophy? How would you expect members of the Supreme Court, and other courts-the lower courts, to interpret the Constitution? When should courts override the decisions of elected officials?

GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: I tend to be Jeffersonian in my understanding of the Constitution and the role of the Judiciary. Jefferson believed that the Judiciary, while equal to the other two branches of government, if there was a weaker branch it would be the Judiciary because Congress had the power of the purse and the Executive Branch had the power of the sword. The Judiciary had the power of neither-it had the power of its opinion, the power of its thoughts and ideas. It is an equal partner in the three branches of government, but I do not believe that the Judiciary is a superior branch of government. It’s a doctrine that we have succumbed to over the past number of generations, and a very dangerous one. And I’m sure we’ll get into the details of that, but if I were picking Supreme Court Justices, I would want them to be more in the model of a Scalia, a Thomas, an Alito. Not because they’re perceived as Conservative, but because they’re perceived as people who believe that we should let the language and the actual words and the intent of the writers of those words in the Constitution be the guide by which we judge. Not culture, not politics, not trends, not thoughts, but the words. Because Jefferson was again, I think, totally on point when he said that if the Judiciary goes ex cathedra to the text of the Constitution itself, and it began to deviate from what was the intended purpose, which was simply to make sure that the Constitution was being adhered to, he said then the Constitution would become a thing of wax. In other words moldable, malleable into whatever the opinion of the day was. That’s a very dangerous place for us to go if we indeed are a Constitutional Republic that is bound by the document rather than bound by our passions and our feelings. So I would want to make sure that somebody truly believed that the Constitution was the highest order of our frame of government, respected, believed it, and adhered to it.

On the Constitution

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON:  When you look at the Constitution, do you view it as a living, breathing document or do you view it through its original intent the way it was framed by the people who wrote it?

GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: I view it as its original intent and sometimes when that question is asked people say ‘Oh I believe it’s a living, breathing document’ because what they think that means is that it’s alive and it’s not dead but when we speak of the Constitution being a living document, people use that term to mean that we can contort it from its original intended purpose to make it fit something that is entirely modern. And that’s like, for me, taking the Scripture and saying ‘Well I know what the Bible says, but I know how culture has shifted and therefore we need to adjust the Bible to culture.’ Well that’s like adjusting the tuning fork to an untuned piano rather than adjusting the piano to the tuning fork. There has to be a standard by which we measure, that standard must be constant. It must be something that is reliable. And the Constitution has been the reliable source of understanding who we are as a people-what kind of government we have. What’s right, what’s wrong, what’s legal, what’s not. And if we begin to make it so that we apply culture to the Constitution rather than the other way around, we will ultimately become a nation that is unrecognizable from what we started out to be.

On Educational Diversity on the Bench

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON:  Now, we obviously want to see diversity on the bench. We want to see gender diversity, racial diversity, one of the things I was looking at on statistics for the Supreme Court, 100% of the Justices are from Ivy League schools. Now I don’t know if that’s a cultural thing, but somehow that’s the pool we go to, one question I want you to answer is do you think a Supreme Court Justice has to have been a former judge or come from an Ivy League school? I like to tell people that I happen to know for a fact that the University of South Carolina is an Ivy League school. I know this to be true because I’ve seen ivy growing there. And I’m sure you’ve seen it at Arkansas’ too. What would you say to that?

GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: I don’t think it ought to be a requirement that a person has had bench experience, although in most cases it would be desirable and admirable that they’ve had some understanding of the role of the Judiciary, particularly at the appellate level. There are lots of people from whom we could choose who would meet that qualification. I totally agree that our court no longer represents the population of the United States. It’s not that a person should be disqualified because they aren’t from an Ivy League school. What I was saying to the President of the University earlier here today, I’ve spoken at nearly every Ivy League school in America. I’ve been to the campuses, I’ve interacted with the students, I spent a week at Harvard teaching in the School of Government. I’ve been on the campuses of Brown, Dartmouth, Cornell, and Yale, and on and on. Let me tell you guys something. The kids on those campuses are no more intelligent, insightful, or able than those of you who go to Winthrop University, I mean to tell you that. They’re just not, they’re not smarter than you. And the thought that somehow if they’ve been to an Ivy League school they’re somehow superior, is a complete fallacy. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with going to an Ivy League school, but I think there’s something that causes one to be a little more isolated from the reality of the world, the culture, and the country, when they live their whole lives in what I tend to call, and I’ve written about it extensively: the bubbles. And there are certain cultural bubbles that exist in this nation in which people are really not in tune with, disconnected from, folks that live over in what we would call fly over country. And I think it’s a dangerous precedent when the entire court represents a very small minority of the population in attitude, in values system, in approach to life, and their understanding of what the world looks like.

On the Power of the Judiciary

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON:  Governor I have a question that was written from John Thomas Eaves. Mr. Eaves asks “Do you think that the judiciary branch has too much power? If so how would you address this issue as President?”

GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: Great question, and it’s not that they have too much power, because the power is defined for them in the Constitution. The problem is that we have treated them as if they have more power than they have. This is the problem. If we actually adhere to the text of the Constitution, we don’t have a problem. No they don’t have too much power, because they have the equal power of the other two branches. It’s almost like all of us who took ninth grade Civics learned a very fundamental aspect of being an American. We learn three branches, each equal, none of the branches were superior to the other. But somewhere between ninth grade when we took Civics and getting out of one of those Ivy League schools, it’s like we have become uneducated. And we’ve become more interested in what some professor of law has said or what some court’s precedent has become as opposed to what the actual text of the Constitution said. Let’s go back to the origin. So back to the founders, because their language in it was quite important. Jefferson was the one who made it very clear that if we believe that the court, specifically the Supreme Court, could issue a ruling, and that that ruling was final and it was the law of the land, as we often hear today, we hear it regularly, Jefferson said that in so doing we would have surrendered to the doctrine of judicial supremacy and in an essence we would be under judicial tyranny. What he means by that is you have now nullified the other two branches of the government by simply saying the Supreme Court can come out and say something and that becomes the law. There is no real argument other than going through amending the constitution or impeaching the justices. Well that is an extreme way to deal with what should be very simple. The courts make a ruling, the other two branches of government then have to engage to create the enabling legislation to put that ruling into place if they agree with it. I’m going to give you an example, I was on MSNBC this morning talking to Joe Scarborough. They were pretty much all over me because I’ve taken the side of the county clerk in Kentucky who says that she does not have to fill out a marriage license for a same-sex couple. In part because the Constitution of Kentucky expressly says that marriage is between a man and a woman, the form that she is required to fill out for that marriage specifically has the language “male and female,” that law hasn’t been changed. Now if the Governor of Kentucky brings the legislature into session and the peoples’ elected representatives decide to change the form, if they decide to overturn their Constitution, if they decide to make a lot of changes, then that clerk would in that point would probably be required to either follow her faith and conscience in law that has been enabled and inactive in her presence. Let me explain what I mean by that because I think it’s a very important point Alan, I really can’t emphasize this enough: the idea that the courts make a ruling and that’s it. Think about it. It doesn’t make even common sense criteria. As a governor, I’ll give you an example. My state’s Supreme Court often made rulings, one was a very monumental one. It ended a twenty court battle on school finance. The court ruled that school funding in Arkansas was both inequitable and inadequate, the two basic fundamental tenants of education funding. I read the ruling, I said ‘You know what, they’re right.’ According to the Arkansas Constitution, what the Supreme Court has ruled is one hundred percent right. We are not in compliance with our Constitution. But the next day after the ruling, I didn’t go around saying it’s the law of the land and order the Department of Education to write new checks to three hundred and seventy seven school districts in the state. Why? Because I didn’t have the power to do that. The legislature had to convene, develop and pass a new funding formula that would tell how the money of the state taxpayers was to be distributed to those school districts. I had to sign that for it to become law and after it was law, passed by an executive, elected body of representatives, then I had the authority to order the Department of Education to change the amount which they were sending to the various school districts. Prior to that, I had no authority to do that because I didn’t have the power of the purse, only the power of the sword, and the court had neither so the court couldn’t tell us exactly what that amount should be. And you know what, we don’t want the court making that decision for us. We’re living in a time where we have just sort of accepted this notion of judicial supremacy and I challenge people: read the Constitution. Not what someone said it said, read for its own words, tell me where you find that. And when the clerk in Kentucky has taken the position she has-I’ve been challenged the same: ‘How can you defy it?’ I say ‘She’s not defying it.’ They say ‘Well she has to carry out the law.’ And my response is ‘Quote to me the statute that she is going to have to follow. Quote to me the specific law. Because the Constitution says not one thing about marriage, nothing. The Supreme Court reached out into thin air and created a constitutional right from words that aren’t even in the Constitution, words like spirituality and intimacy, and base it on their cultural interpretation of what they thought it should be, not what the Constitution said it was. That’s a role for the peoples’ elected representatives to play and if they vote differently, and the chief executive of the county signs it, now you have something that is the agreement of all three branches of government and that’s a whole new understanding. But otherwise I think we are on treacherous grounds when we begin to just accept that the Court’s rule-that’s it, move on, let’s follow through-that is only valid when you have a cowardly executive branch and a cowardly legislative branch that will not follow its own responsibilities to keep pledges to you.”

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON:  Governor, I think you answered about eight or nine questions ahead.

GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: Sorry about that.

On Executive Action

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON:  No that’s good because you’re teeing me up on some things. The next section I want to go into is executive action. You’ve all heard the president talk about how he has his phone and he has his pen, and those things that Congress will not do he will use those items and basically rule through administrative fiat. As we all know, administrative agencies are under the direct control of the President but they are overseen by Congress. They are charged with enforcing laws passed by Congress. When the President’s policy preference is inconsistent with the statutes that Congress has enacted, which branch should the agency obey?

GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: Well if the agencies are under the Executive Branch authority, they would follow the Executive Branch unless those orders and requirements are outside of the law, and then the law ultimately has to be the arbiter. It may be that those agencies would be required to submit that order of the President to the Court and ask for an interpretation of whether they were to answer to what they believe the statute said or to what they were ordered to do. The brilliance-and this is where I marvel at our system of government-we have a lot of students here today and if there’s any one thing that I hope happens, you may disagree with everything you hear me say today and that’s okay because you live in a country where you can do that. But I hope if there’s one thing that you come away with, it’s that you celebrate the most amazing government that has ever been designed by human beings. It is not perfect, but it is as close to perfection as we’ve ever seen because it was built in with the understanding of the frailty of human beings and the fact that all of us have our imperfections. None of us can be trusted so wholly and so fully as to be without someone else checking and balancing us-that was the genius. And the genius of the Constitution is that each of the branches are checked by the other two so that one never gets out of control if the other two do its job. If there is executive overreach, it is not so much an indictment over the Executive. It’s an indictment over the Congressional Branch who has failed to fulfill its constitutional duty to hold back the Executive Branch from overreach. And I would say politically, one of the things I’m most upset about with my own Republican party, is they now have the majority but they don’t have the guts to do their constitutional duty to check executive overreach.

On the EPA and Overreach of Federal Agencies

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON:  So some of the examples of executive overreach that I’ve dealt with as Attorney General of South Carolina: I don’t know if people are familiar, but at the beginning of the President’s administration he shuttered Yucca Mountain, which was the nuclear repository for all of the country’s nuclear waste. As you know there over one hundred nuclear sites in this country and now states are having to store their own nuclear waste in their home states which creates one hundred potential targets as opposed to one guarded target. Plus there are the environmental concerns.  A joint congress several decades ago, and re-ratified through resolution in the early 2000s, said that they wanted Yucca Mountain to be the repository. Basically the President, through administrative fiat, shuttered Yucca Mountain and they cut off funding. Of course we won the court battle but there’s still no funding for it, that’s one example. We all know about the immigration suit that was filed by twenty-seven states, led by Texas that South Carolina joined in, in which the President decided he was going to effectuate immigration policy contrary to the will of Congress. Then of course the EPA. We’ve filed nearly fifty suits and been involved in nearly fifty actions as a state fighting EPA overreach. The EPA is now trying to regulate ditches running through your yard because they want to redefine those ditches as a water of the U.S. because several weeks out of the year it may be filled with water in the wet season and now you have to get a federal permit to build on it. These are some examples I’m giving the audience to understand what I’m dealing with. These are some of the concerns that I have seen as Attorney General. How would you reconcile the conflict that one of your federal agencies might have and that of the will of Congress, because President Obama said ‘pen and phone.’ What would a President Mike Huckabee do to circumvent that?

GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: Well a pen and phone is a wonderful thing to have but it doesn’t supersede the law. You have to have the law on your side, not a pen and a phone. A pen and phone is not superior to that which the peoples’ representatives duly put forth. The EPA is a great example of overreach of authority. The EPA is essentially making law by regulatory administrative capacity-that’s illegal. What should happen is the President should clip the wings of the EPA and make them only subject the citizens of the United States to any regulation that has authority in clear, congressional intention. Because if you don’t have that, then you have unelected bureaucrats essentially usurping the elected power of members of Congress. Now look I get as mad about Congress as anybody in this place, probably madder than most of you, and they frustrate me often. But whether I like what they do or not, they’re the ones in whom has been vested the authority to make decisions that have the force of law. When an unelected body like the EPA can tell South Carolina or any other state what it has to do with a ditch of water, then it has the force of law because that agency can not only come up with a rule, it can enforce the rule and impose the penalty of violating the rule. That violates the fundamental aspect of American jurisprudence which is that you are innocent until you are proven guilty. The IRS is another great example. The IRS is a one-stop shop. The IRS can open an investigation on you, can carry out the investigation, can come to findings as a result of the investigation, and impose the penalty which could in fact put you out of business, destroy your livelihood, or even put you in jail. There is no check and balance within that system. I think that’s blatantly unconstitutional. It’s one of the reasons I’m a strong advocate for fair tax which is the only way to get rid of the IRS because I think the IRS has become a criminal enterprise targeting people for their beliefs and acting outside of the jurisdiction of its power.

On Executive Action

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON:  So earlier you mentioned a couple of the President’s executive actions. Which of the executive actions do you disagree with the most and are there any that you agree with?

GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: Well I disagree with his implementation of what he would call the Dream Act. Not because I disagree with the ultimate goal, because quite frankly when I was governor I helped to sponsor and push a bill in our legislature that recognized that if a student, who by law had to be in our schools, this was a state issue-it shouldn’t be a federal one. But in our state if we had a student who had no choice about where he came to live in America, and he came here when he was four years old, and under Arkansas law he was required to be in school regardless of the status of his parents, then he’s in school for the entire time, kindergarten through twelfth grade. We actually had a kid who at one of the largest schools in our state, who was valedictorian. Valedictorian, smartest kid in the class. His parents brought him here when he was four, the only place he’d ever really known he lived was Arkansas, in this one town. And the question was ‘If he went to college, which he was qualified for-obviously being valedictorian of one of the state’s largest high schools, should he be able to qualify for the same financial assistance as any other Arkansas student, would he be granted in-state status?’ He wouldn’t get special treatment, but should he get the same treatment as any kid who went to Arkansas schools? I argued that he should and I wanted to make it law but I didn’t have the authority just to say he did. Now it passed in the House and it lost in the Senate, and I was disappointed. Some people think ‘Oh you’re for amnesty?’ No I just don’t believe you punish a child for something his parents did and something that child had nothing to do with. Now we could have kept that kid from ever going to college or making it very difficult for him. But I ultimately asked this question: ‘Do we want that kid to be a tomato picker or a neurosurgeon?’ I think we would all be better off if he turned out to be a neurosurgeon-he’d pay more taxes, he’d save some lives. There is nothing unfathomable or dishonorable about picking tomatoes, but it would sure be a waste of a kid’s brilliance. Now here’s the point. When the President said that he wanted to have a pathway-not for parents, not for amnesty, I do not believe in amnesty-but for kids who had nothing to do with how they got here, and he wanted to make it so they would be able to go to college in the U.S. Twenty-three different times the President said he didn’t have the authority to just do that. Twenty-three times. He said it in front of Hispanic groups, he said it on Univision, and he said it in speeches twenty-three different times that he can’t do it. One day he wakes up and says ‘I just did it, I just signed an executive order.’ That to me is a blatant example of executive overreach where he did what he thought he wanted to do, what he thought he should do, but he didn’t do it with the authority that he was limited to. There is no power in our form of government that is unlimited. All forms of government have limits and the ultimate limit is you-the people. And I felt that that was an incredible executive overreach. I could mention Obamacare, I could mention this latest-really it’s a treaty, it’s called an international agreement, the deal with Iran, Republicans really screwed that up. They’re the ones who allowed the President to treat this as an agreement rather than a treaty which would have required a super majority-two thirds vote-now it will be able to probably pass because the President will squeeze enough votes to protect his veto, it’s just a tragedy. But those are examples, Alan I think I could bring out today.

On the 10th Amendment

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON:  The Constitution in my opinion is an operator’s manual for our country and the Constitution says ‘Executive Branch you have these powers, Legislative Branch you have these powers, and Judicial Branch you have these powers.’ And then if you go to the Tenth Amendment it reads “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it, are reserved to the states respectively or to the People.” Meaning anything not listed in those Articles defaults to the states, which is a much longer list than specifically enumerated powers. How does your interpretation of the Tenth Amendment shape your policy, views, and plans for the federal government as it relates to the states?

GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: Well if we really, truthfully follow the Tenth Amendment, there’s major, major city blocks of Washington, D.C. that would be vacated. And I’m not just saying that rhetorically. There is so much power that has moved to a centralized federal government in which there is no authority for that power to exist in Washington at the federal level. One of the things the founders feared most, and the reason that the Bill of Rights was written and the reason specifically that the Tenth Amendment was added, was because they feared that one day, too much government would get centralized in too few hands. They always had a distrust of government. Isn’t it interesting that the people who created our government didn’t trust it very much? That should tell us something. And so, they were so fearful of it that they not only enumerated what the powers were, but then they put one more emergency brake on the whole thing called the Tenth Amendment and they said ‘If it’s not specifically listed here, it’s the state’s power.’ And if we look at what the federal government has done, whether it’s the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, many aspects of the EPA, you would just say ‘Where does that come from? Where does that authority originate?’ And the problem is because we have moved power to Washington, we’ve really messed this country up, to be blunt. One of the most important things the next President should do is to devolve the power away from Washington and bring it back to places where people live who are going to be most effective. The founders believed that the best government was local and the most limited: limited government because we really should limit ourselves, and the less government the better; local government because the best form of government is the government that is closest to the people being governed because there actually will be accountability that won’t be when you are separated by hundreds if not thousands of miles and many cultures, and many ways of which there is no connection between the people making the decisions and the people who have to live under the decisions. That’s been a true nightmare and I just remind everyone that when you read the Bill of Rights and pick up a Constitution, maybe it’s been a while since you’ve read it. Don’t feel alone, I’m convinced most of the Courts haven’t read it either so you will be in good company. When you read the Bill of Rights and ask yourself ‘Upon whom are the restrictions being placed?’ here’s what you’re going to find. The Bill of Rights never tells you what you can’t do. There’s nothing in the Bill of Rights that restricts you as a citizen. The Bill of Rights-every single one of them-restricts the federal government and tells the federal government what it cannot do. Because the founders believed that the people would ultimately make better decisions than people at the federal level of government so they put very strict restrictions on the federal government. They did not put those restrictions on you and every one in the Bill of Rights was a guarantee that you have the freedom of religion, that you have the freedom of speech, you have the freedom to assemble, you have the freedom of the press, to publish, to say what you wish. And as I said earlier, I remember going to Cornell, there was going to be about a hundred protesters that were going to protest my speech. The people who were sponsoring the event, they were so afraid I would see them and they said ‘We’ll drive around the back’ and I said ‘No that’s not necessary, go right where they are.’ And so we’re driving out and they were holding signs and they were protesting my presence on the campus-all in the name of diversity, tolerance, and free speech of course. So I told the driver, I said ‘Stop the car I’m going to go talk to them.’ ‘Oh no no no we can’t do that.’ I said ‘They’re not going to hurt me.’ ‘But they’re here to protest you.’ I told him ‘Yeah but they’re not going to hurt me, they’re college students. You know, they’re not here to be harmful.’  I got out of the car and walked over and I think they were shocked to see me and they thought I was going to come over and start yelling at them. And I walked over and I said ‘I just wanted to say I see you guys out here and see you screaming at me and wanted to come by and say thank you.’ That kind of got their attention and I said ‘I really wanted to say I appreciate it because your presence here today and the fact that you’re protesting my being on your campus speaking tonight is a great reminder and a terrific affirmation of something that sometimes I just tend to forget. And that’s what a great country we all live in.’ I said ‘Cause you know what, when I see you guys protesting here’s what I know: none of you are going to be put in jail because you’re out here screaming at me, none of you will spend the night in the pokey tonight, none of you are going to be expelled, none of you are going to be taken away never to be seen by your families again, none of you are going to be shot in the street left to bleed to death on the sidewalk because you’re standing here protesting me. Your right to stand here and scream at me is absolutely protected and you just reminded me why I love this great country so much and I just wanted to thank you for being here.’ And before it was over, I was taking selfies with half of those kids, I don’t know what the heck they did with them, but it was a great reminder to me and I hope to them, that we don’t have to agree with each other. We really don’t because there is a protection for our legal need that erased the line between traditional commercial banks and investment banks, and that gave the investment banks the opportunity to do what commercial banks did. You’ve blurred those lines, you’ve created the beginning of the bubble and that has been destructive and it was the reason for the collapse. When the collapse happened, it didn’t happen because your community bank screwed up. It happened because the big boys were trying to make money, not by building a product or a service or financing it, but by moving paper around making big, big money off of simple paper pushing. Basically they turned Wall Street into a casino. People weren’t making money because they invested in a product or a service, they made money because they bet on what a product or service would one day be worth and it all came crashing down. So let’s start with maybe reinventing Glass-Steagall or a version thereof, separating commercial vs. investment banks. Secondly, get rid of Dodd Frank because we’re punishing the wrong child who’s misbehaving. It was not your community bank that needed to have the strict regulations, but the result is community banks are no longer making the kind of consumer loans that community banks are known for: to give a business owner put twenty-five thousand dollars to put inventory in his store, to give a family who’s having their fourth child the opportunity to build a room onto the house. Those loans are gone because it costs more to process a twenty-five thousand dollar loan than they could ever make back no matter what the interest rate is. So who’s getting hurt? Little guys, not big guys. Big guys on Wall Street and banks are bigger than they’ve ever been, they’re bigger than they were before the crash. And who’s getting hurt? People in communities like yours. Because those banks are no longer able to do business with you, even though they know you and they trust you and they could do business with you, but the federal regulations makes it impossible. Obamacare really tried to solve the wrong problem, we don’t have a healthcare crisis in America, we have a health crisis. And what we need to be doing is putting a focus on cures and prevention rather than on just paying for the catastrophic cost of diseases run amuck. And if we would target specifically four diseases: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s, and declare that in a decade we’re going to find cures for those four things, it will transform not only the healthcare system, but the economy. I was a kid when the Polio vaccine was first discovered and implemented. I stood in line at the county courthouse three consecutive Sundays to get my Polio vaccine. I never had Polio but a kids a couple of years older than me did and they had to go to the iron lung and wear braces. Here’s the thing: do you know how much money was spent in South Carolina last year on Polio? Nothing. We’ve saved hundreds of billions of dollars because we’ve eradicated it. If we took on the process of curing and preventing, rather than just treating and trying to figure out how to pay for the treatment, Obamacare would be a complete waste of resources. And we need to be focusing on something that has a long term, transgenerational impact. We will never be able to spend enough money to catch up with the healthcare cost when eighty percent of every healthcare dollar is spent dealing with chronic disease and eighty-five percent of a person’s lifetime healthcare cost is spent in their last eighteen months of life. That may shock you but if you live to be ninety, the first eighty-eight and a half years of your life you’ve spent fifteen percent of your lifetime healthcare cost, it’s the last eighteen months in which you will spend eighty-five percent of your healthcare cost. Why? Because we’re sick and that’s what we need to fix.

On Immigration

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON:  Governor we’re going to do a quick lightning round because we are getting closer to the end. I want you to spend about a minute to a minute and a half tops on each of these next issues because I want to touch these issues for our folks out here in the audience. Immigration, we mentioned it earlier. Currently there are twenty-seven states challenging the President’s executive action-which we talked about earlier-on his immigration overreach. What would you do as President to solve the immigration problem in the United States?

GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: We would secure the border, we would do it in less than a year, and if somebody thinks that’s just big talk, look we built a seventeen hundred mile road between British Columbia and Alaska seventy-three years ago and did it in less than a year. We could build a secure fence, wall, or structure if we want to. We just haven’t had a President that wanted to and said ‘We’re going to get it done.’

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON:  You’d be the first one.


On the 2nd Amendment

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON:  In under sixty seconds he solved immigration, that’s good. The Second Amendment. You know South Carolina’s recently undergone a horrible, horrible tragedy and I tell people ‘If anything has represented our area-just the way South Carolina came together-a lot of symbols out there but that was the most powerful symbol, how the victims of the Mother Emmanuel nine reacted to a horrible and heinous act.’ But there are some who have called guns the problem, and what is your opinion on the Second Amendment in the wake of tragedies that have happened in Charleston and Missouri and New York or other areas-Baltimore? What is your view on the Second Amendment in the wake of those types of tragedies?

GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: The Second Amendment is an individual right. It is something that the founders believed was sacred because they understood that the last line of defense between you and a government that has become out of control, is you, armed, able to resist. I know that sounds really radical in the year 2015, but I want to remind you of something. Our country was launched by some radicals who started a revolution. And they overthrew their own government because their own government had become a tyranny. And I know, again, that sounds shocking for us to talk about it because we think we’re just supposed to be compliant. But they understood that the Second Amendment was not written to guarantee my right to go turkey hunting, duck hunting, or deer hunting-although I love all three of those things. The Second Amendment was designed to help me protect my home, my family, and ultimately, my country and my way of life. And one of the reasons that the Japanese, when they attacked Pearl Harbor and they basically destroyed the entire U.S. fleet, they had an absolute open door and a clear pathway to come to the west coast and continue on in an outright invasion of the United States. Later, Admiral Yamamoto was asked ‘Why didn’t you come on when you had the perfect opportunity? America was not mobilized, it was not prepared, why did you not come?’ He said ‘Because Americans all have guns and we would be fighting in every street in America and on the west coast.’ Now they’d probably be able to go through the west coast because California has disarmed its citizens. But at the time, their fear of the fact that there was an armed citizenry, that they would have to fight not just an army that would be gathering up, was what probably saved us from a west coast invasion after Pearl Harbor. It’s a great reminder of why it’s important.

On Law Enforcement

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON:  Next lightning round question: law enforcement. As chief prosecutor in the state I see we have a sheriff who is here with us today, I know law enforcement is important to everyone. When I was running for Attorney General, whether I was talking to Republicans, Democrats, Independents, they didn’t want to live in a community where they couldn’t raise a family without fear: fear from being murdered, fear from being robbed. Law enforcement obviously is something that is handled at the local level but in the recent months and the last several years, you’ve seen a lot of movements like black lives matter. You’ve seen a lot of viewpoints expressed violently, some not so violently, we’ve seen the murder rates go up in major cities. What do you think your role as President of the United States would be as it relates to law enforcement in the local community?

GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: We need to remind Americans that all lives matter, that there is no such thing as a life that matters more or that matters less. The fundamental premise of America is that we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all of us are created equal, and are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights-life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We need to teach, and the President needs to be the number one instructor, that the law enforcement personnel-while not always perfect-really do hold the thin blue line between us and anarchy. And if we want to argue with a cop we have a forum in which to do that: it’s called a court, it’s not in the street. We need to raise a generation of young people who understands that the police officer is not the enemy, the police officer is there to protect. They sometimes might get it wrong, but I’m going to tell you as governor, I carried out the death sentence. I had to do it more than any other governor in my state’s history. I just want to mention this: to carry out the ultimate expression of enforcing the law, which the death sentence certainly is, I had months to make that decision and go through the file of every person who was executed. And I took the time, I went through every page of every file and folder in that inmate’s file, sometimes it was several boxes including the crime scene photos, the trial transcripts, the appellate court transcripts. I read through every page to give every benefit of the doubt because I knew that of all the decisions I ever made, there was one decision that I have made that is irrevocable. I had months to deliberate, I could even delay my own decision if necessary, stay the execution to give myself more time. I carried out that sentence, repeatedly. The police officer who walks up to a car at 2 in the morning on a deserted road or knocks on the door may be confronted with someone he believes will make it so that he never ever sees his family again. He doesn’t have weeks to sort it out, he has a split second to make the decision. We pay them too little, we ask of them too much, to end up creating a whole culture in which we disregard what they do and the manner in which they do it. If they do wrong, yes we deal with it, but we need to uphold what they do and get on our knees every night and thank God they’re willing to do it. Because if they didn’t, our streets would be chaos and our country would be anarchy.

On Religious Liberty

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON:  We’re entering the last three minutes, I’m saying that just so you know, it’s the end of the sermon right, so you know we’re about to leave. But I’m going to get in two more questions. One question comes from the audience-I’m going to ask that one last, and one question is on religious liberty. Now the Supreme Court has recently ruled same-sex marriage is the same-sex question, but because of that ruling we are seeing a lot of stories-and you highlighted a couple of these stories earlier. There was the woman in Kentucky, the clerk marriage certificate. We also have a cake baker in Colorado who has been sanctioned by the court for not making use of his artistic ability to make a cake for a same-sex marriage wedding. Many have likened this generation’s issue of same-sex marriage to the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. What we’re seeing is that the religious liberty line is starting to be moved, that peoples’ private property and peoples’ private views are pushed solely within the four corners of the Church. There’s even a concern that where we’re going is that churches could lose their tax exempt status for on their face appearing to discriminate same-sex couples. What are your views on religious liberty and the balance between the public perceptions that people of that lifestyle don’t want to be discriminated against? But at the same time how do you accommodate the religious views of people in the community? How would you support that as President of the United States?

GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: We need to remember that the fundamental foundation of all our liberties is religious liberty. It is intentionally listed first in the Bill of Rights. The first thing is the ability to have the freedom of religion. Why? Because if the government can restrict what you believe, then the government can restrict what you say, where you go, who you meet with, what you publish, the way you defend yourself, and every other freedom you have-it all first starts with your ability, your fundamental right to believe as you wish. That’s why I believe it’s listed first. As President what I would do is to instruct the Attorney General of the United States to vigorously defend religious liberty and instead of sending the Justice Department to help persecute and prosecute Aaron and Melissa Klein out in Washington State for not baking a same-sex wedding cake and seeing them fined $135,000 for that. I’d send the Justice Department to defend their religious liberty. I would send the Justice Department everywhere religious liberty is being trampled because it is a fundamental, clearly expressed, explicit, Constitutional right. I would do the same with the Secretary of Defense in ordering that military chaplains and all members of the military are able to completely have their freedom of expression, belief, and practice so long as it did not endanger other troops. Because otherwise you’re violating the First Amendment rights of religion, of speech, of assembly. And when the government begins dictating that it’s okay for you to believe, but only so much and the government detects and describes what ‘so much’ means, that now we truly do have a tyranny. And that was what our country started to stop. And we cannot have a generation that tramples over the explicit and fundamental rights that are in the First Amendment and all of the Constitution.

On Social Security

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON:  I’m going to close now with a question from the Conservative Leadership Project, a question from someone that was submitted at the beginning. It’s not really in the vein of the things that we’ve asked and Governor I’m going to ask you to try to do this in under ninety seconds. Now understanding folks that it’s hard to answer a problem as big as this in ninety seconds. This is like a movie trailer. You want to go see the rest of the movie right so you’re going to give a movie trailer view. This question is from Matthew O’Malley. ‘Governor Huckabee how do you plan to address the fiscal solvency of social security?’ in ninety seconds-go.

GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: In ninety seconds, here’s how we do it. We grow the economy by passing the fair tax which helps us to fund social security and Medicare from all tax forms rather than only the payroll tax. The payroll tax is a declining form of revenue that’s going in to pay for a system that pays for ten thousand people a day getting into the system. It’s imbalanced. But we can’t not pay for these programs for the simple reason that that’s not the government’s money. These aren’t welfare programs, they’re not entitlements, these are fundamental obligations because the government took the money out of your check involuntarily. They never asked you if you wanted to contribute, they took it out of your check-forced it out of you, and they said ‘It’ll be waiting for you.’ It’s a promise and the government has to keep its promises. The fact that the government has screwed up by spending the money that you sent in, on things other than the purpose for which they intended it, is not your problem. You didn’t make that mistake, they did. You shouldn’t have to pay for the mistake, they should. And starting with let’s trim the size of government and if they’ve just determined somebody’s pension has to go, I know it won’t pay for the solvency, but let it start with ending congressional pensions, before we end the social security commission and I do believe that the key is growing the economy, you can’t cut your way or tax your way out of it.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON:  Governor I’m getting the little hook here, so let’s do this. I would like to make a one minute closing remark then I will give you the final minute closing remark and then we’ll adjourn, I think we have a media availability afterwards. Ladies and gentlemen, for those of you who came today, it says something about you. It doesn’t matter whether you’re Republican or Democrat or Independent or you’re not quite sure what you are. You love your community, you love your state, and you love your country, because you’re here to learn. Maybe you came here because you don’t like the things that we’re talking about today, maybe you don’t know what you think about them, maybe you love them and you want to reaffirm your belief in them but the point is you came. You came here to learn and be part of the political process. My seven year old son’s out there right now, I brought him here to be part of the process. To the students at Winthrop University I hope this is something that you can really learn to appreciate, that participating in the political process and learning about the men and women who are offering their names for the most important job in the land: the President of the United States. This is really something that we should all commit ourselves to doing. The purpose of this forum was not to address every issue, and the fact that an issue was not addressed does not mean that it’s not an important issue. We can only dive so deep into some issues but we wanted to give you a flavor for what Governor or a future President Mike Huckabee would do as it relates to the Judiciary, and the role of the federal and state governments as they work together. So I want to thank everyone for coming here today, I want to thank you for participating and showing up and being respectful. South Carolina continues to stand out, in my opinion, to the rest of the country on how hospitable we are. I want to thank all of you, Governor Huckabee I want to thank you and your team and the folks here at Winthrop University, and our elected officials, and all of the dignitaries and citizens of this community for being here today. So at that Governor Huckabee I’m going to give you your closing comment to the crowd, and thank you again.

GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: Thank you Alan, I just want to conclude by expressing thanks to Winthrop University, especially the students and for your presence here today. I hope you’re voters, and if you are voters I hope you vote for me. If you’re not going to vote for me, I hope you’re not voters, it’s that simple. I’m going to let Alan tell you how wonderful it is whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican but I’m not going to be so gracious, I need you to be a Republican, I need you to vote in the primary, and I need you to vote for me. If not I need you to stay home and watch it on TV, it’s that simple. Final things folks is this, when I told you that I left a good paying job to run for President again, here’s why: I’ve got five grandkids now. I care very much about their future. I’m close enough to the finish line, I’m probably going to be okay. But my grandkids aren’t. Unless we make some real fundamental changes on the trajectory of this country. I do not want to be the grandfather that walks my children through the charred remains of a once great nation and say ‘Here you go, this is what we left you.’ I want to walk my kids through the best America there’s ever been and say ‘Here you go, this is what we built for you.’  The easiest job in the world is to take a can of gasoline and book of matches and burn the whole place down. The toughest job in the world is to take a hammer and a saw and build it into what it ought to be. You have to decide. You want to elect somebody who wants to burn it down, who will tell you everything wrong with it? Or somebody who wants to lead it into the best shape it’s ever been in for you and for the generations that come after you? That’s your decision. God bless you and thank you.