Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal both came out strong in the first debate, but Huckabee’s response to CNN’s Jake Tapper’s attempt to make him appear ‘lawless’ for supporting Kim Davis was a golden jewel of a moment, a truly great thing to see.
He refused CNN’s desire to have him attack Jeb Bush, and he instead posed a great, crystallizing, impossible-to-rebut question that shimmered and hung in the air: “We made accommodation to the Fort Hood shooter to let him grow a beard. We made accommodations to the detainees at Gitmo — I’ve been to Gitmo, and I’ve seen the accommodations that we made to the Muslim detainees who killed Americans. You’re telling me that you cannot make an accommodation for an elected Democrat county clerk from Rowan County, Kentucky?”
Jeb Bush also made it clear he favors accommodations for the bakers, the florists and for Kim Davis, because a great country has room for tolerance.
Read the full transcript below:
JAKE TAPPER: Governor Huckabee, last week, you held a rally for a county clerk in Kentucky who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as I don’t need to tell you. You’ve called what happened to Kim Davis, that clerk, “an example of the criminalization of Christianity.” There are several people on the stage who disagree with you. Governor Bush, for example, says that that clerk is sworn to uphold the law. Is Governor Bush on the wrong side of the criminalization of Christianity?
MIKE HUCKABEE: No, I don’t think he’s on the wrong side of such an issue. Jeb is a friend. I’m not up here to fight with Jeb or to fight with anybody else. But I am here to fight for somebody who is a county clerk elected under the Kentucky constitution that 75 percent of the people of that state had voted for that said that marriage was between a man and a woman. The Supreme Court in a very, very divided decision decided out of thin air that they were just going to redefine marriage. It’s a decision that the other justices in dissent said they didn’t have and there wasn’t a constitutional shred of capacity for them to do it. I thought that everybody here passed ninth-grade civics. The courts cannot legislate. That’s what Roberts said. But heck, it’s what we learned in civics. The courts can’t make a law. They can interpret one. They can review one. They can’t implement it. They can’t force it. But here’s what happened: Because the courts just decided that something was going to be and people relinquished it and the other two branches of government sat by silently — I thought we had three branches of government, they were all equal to each other, we have separation of powers, and we have checks and balances. If the court can just make a decision and we just all surrender to it, we have what Jefferson said was judicial tyranny. The reason that this is a real issue that we need to think about…
TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.
HUCKABEE: No, no. Let me finish this one thought, Jake. I haven’t gotten that much time, so I’m going to take just what little I can here. We made accommodation to the Fort Hood shooter to let him grow a beard. We made accommodations to the detainees at Gitmo — I’ve been to Gitmo, and I’ve seen the accommodations that we made to the Muslim detainees who killed Americans. You’re telling me that you cannot make an accommodation for an elected Democrat county clerk from Rowan County, Kentucky? What else is it other than the criminalization of her faith and the exaltation of the faith of everyone else who might be a Fort Hood shooter or a detainee at Gitmo?
TAPPER: Well, I’m not telling you that, Governor. But Governor Bush is, because he — because he disagrees. He thinks that Kim Davis swore to uphold the law. You disagree? You’re not — you don’t…
JEB BUSH: I don’t think — you’re not stating my views right.
TAPPER: OK. Please do.
BUSH: I think there needs to be accommodation for someone acting on faith. Religious conscience is — is — is a first freedom. It’s — it’s a powerful part of our — of our Bill of Rights. And, in a big, tolerant country, we should respect the rule of law, allow people in — in — in this country — I’m a — I was opposed to the decision, but we — you can’t just say, “well, they — gays can’t get married now.” But this woman, there should be some accommodation for her conscience, just as there should be for people that are florists that don’t want to participate in weddings, or bakers. A great country like us should find a way to have accommodations for people so that we can solve the problem in the right way. This should be solved at the local level…
TAPPER: You did…
BUSH: And so we do agree, Mike.
Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at American Principles in Action.