Huckabee: Time for government, not 'people of faith to scale back'

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) didn't disguise his presidential ambitions on Thursday, touting his socially conservative bona fides and blasting both President Obama and Hillary Clinton in his Conservative Political Action Conference speech. 

"These are the things that I know. I know there is a God, and I know this nation would not exist had he not been the midwife of its birth. And I know that this nation exists by the providence of his hand, and if this nation forgets our God, then God will have every right to forget us," Huckabee said. "I hope that we repent before we ever have to receive his fiery judgment."

Huckabee is making strong signs he'll make another run for the White House in 2016, positioning himself as a favorite of social conservatives. 

The speech from the Baptist pastor was predictably heavy on social issues. Huckabee warned that "a society that sacrifices its own children is no better than the ancient Philistines," and criticized the Obama administration for its policy requiring contraception coverage in insurance plans, warning they're impeding on religious liberty.

"When the government begins to say 'it's okay if you have faith but you can only have this much of it because, when you have this much of it, it may somehow conflict with something government has passed, here's what I know: It's time for the government to scale back, not for people of faith to scale back. Religious liberty should be unimpeded in this nation."

But Huckabee made sure to blast Democrats on foreign policy and the economy as well, positioning himself in strong opposition to Democrats' early 2016 front-runner, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"Four Americans were murdered at Benghazi, and our government lied to us as to what happened," he said. "With all due respect to Hillary Clinton, it does make a difference why they died."

He also tweaked Obama, accusing him of being a weak leader.

"I know that the only time Vladimir Putin shivers is when he has his shirt off in a cold Russian winter," he said. "No one trusts us; no one listens to us; no one respects us, and no one fears us."

Huckabee largely avoided fiscal issues, an area where he has had problems with the base, though he threw red meat to the conservative crowd on taxes.

"I know that the IRS is a criminal enterprise," he said. "The best way to get the IRS off our backs and out of our lives is to enact a fair tax which will eliminate the IRS once and for all."