Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.) bemoaned the Obama administration’s foreign policy priorities in the final speech of the Iowa Freedom Summit on Saturday.
The winner of the 2008 caucuses criticized President Obama’s indifference toward foreign threats throughout much of his speech, slamming his State of the Union address this week for singling out climate change as the greatest threat to the country.
“Not to diminish anything about the climate at all, but Mr. President, I believe most of us would think that a beheading is a far greater threat than a sunburn," he said, echoing criticism the president took last year for not taking seriously enough the threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) amid the beheadings of journalists.
Huckabee is exploring another run for president, recently ending his eponymous Fox News show to do so. That anticipated time conflict was one reason the former governor was given the final slot of the evening, so he could have made it from New York City to speak to the conservative gathering.
Instead, the audience that had been there since early morning had thinned out and was much more muted, something the former Baptist preacher even joked about.
"They that endure to the end shall be saved,” he said, referencing scripture.
Huckabee used his time to defend his conservative positions, many which have been under fire from activists who see him as insufficiently conservative on fiscal and education issues. While the former pastor’s social credentials have never been assailed, with a diverse field and a party that’s moved further to the right than when he was the insurgent favorite seven years ago, it’s a weakness he has to address.
He bemoaned Democrats assailing the GOP about income inequality, blaming over-burdensome regulations and government overreach for stunting economic growth.
“Sometimes I think the greatest challenge we face economically is intelligence inequality,” Huckabee said to laughs. "We will never be able to build a strong economy when we punish productivity.”
Huckabee also defended his past support for Common Core standards, saying he supported them when they were controlled at the state level but that once the federal government got involved, he grew opposed.
“Education is not a federal function — it is a local function,” he said.