Huckabee: US giving Iran and Cuba 'ice cream and candy'
© Greg Nash
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a potential 2016 Republican presidential contender, criticized the Obama administration Saturday over its moves to normalize relations with Cuba and work out a deal over Iran's nuclear program. 
 
"I think we ought to quit pretending that Cuba is some wonderful nation with whom we can sit down and visit with, anymore than we can believe the Iranians are. They're not," Huckabee said in a discussion on international trade to those gathered at the first Iowa Agricultural Summit. 
 
"These are untrustworthy people who have never kept an agreement in their lives. They oppress their people, they kick their people in the groin," Huckabee said. "You don't go around and make friends and nice with people who do horrible things. You put pressure on them. You don't release the pressure."
 
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Huckabee, a Southern Baptist minister and the son of blue-collar workers, harkened back to his childhood. 
 
"My gosh, if my parents had raised me that way – I'd have been a monster. My parents corrected my bad behavior, they didn't encourage it by rewarding me with ice cream and candy every time I did something horrible," he said.
 
"So when you've got the Iranians or the Cubans doing terrible things to their people, you don't give them ice cream and candy, for Heaven's sake," Huckabee added. 
 
Huckabee, who won the 2008 Iowa presidential caucuses and is weighing a 2016 White House bid, offered quick responses on a slew of agricultural and trade-related topics Saturday at an event drawing top potential GOP contenders such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
 
He slammed so-called globalists, those who think America can do no better than the rest of the world, and corporatists concerned about their international empires. Instead, Huckabee cast himself as a nationalist.
 
"I care about what's good for America," he said.
 
On trade, Huckabee acknowledged that "we have surrendered to the Chinese market" despite human rights concerns similar to Cuba and Iran, but quickly turned the topic to reflecting on America's future by invoking a visit he made last year to China.
 
"I thought they were becoming more like America used to be. But sadly, America is becoming more like they used to be. Our government is becoming more oppressive, theirs is beginning to ease up. We have allowed the Chinese to get away with things with trade agreements that we never should have done," he said.
 
Discussing a current push in Congress to streamline passage of global trade agreements with a trade promotion authority, Huckabee chuckled.
 
"If I were president I'd like to have all the authority there is. If somebody else is president, I think they ought to go through Congress, just 'cause I don't trust them. It's pretty simple," he said.
 
Huckabee noted that "if it's not fair trade, it's not free trade," and said, "We've allowed the Chinese to manipulate the trade market, to steal intellectual property, to dump products into the United States, artificially subsidize and make it very difficult for American manufacturers to compete."
 
On immigration and its effects on domestic workers, Huckabee questioned what the U.S. can do "to stem the tide of people who are rushing over because they've heard there's a bowl of food just across the border."
 
Huckabee acknowledged that some illegal immigrants want to pursue jobs in the U.S.
 
"But if you're coming because you hear there's free food, free drivers licenses –  you might even get to vote – and we'll also give you a free education and free healthcare ... then I think we meet them at the door and say, ‘You know what, it may not be a good fit,’”  he said to applause. 
 
Asked about clean-energy programs like wind, Huckabee quipped, "I think if we could ever harness the wind that comes out of Congress, we could supply the energy needs of the world, with plenty left over."
 
After applause, Huckabee followed up that "wind is an important part" of the long-term U.S. energy future, along with coal, nuclear energy and fossil fuels. "The portfolio of American energy ought to be as broad and as sustainable as possible."
 
He said the federal wind tax program that expired at the end of last year "needs to be debated" and that no government program should have "eternal life."
 
"The only living beings on earth that should have eternal life are human beings and dogs," he said.