Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee came to First Baptist Church of Charlotte on Thursday night to woo the white evangelical voters from the South he will need if, as expected, he makes another run for the White House in 2016.
At a town hall meeting that attracted more than 400 people and several questions from the audience, the former pastor and TV talk show host won hearty applause by ripping President Barack Obama, federal judges and the entertainment industry in Hollywood.
Huckabee also made it clear to those in the pews that, at a time when some Republicans want to reach out to new voter groups by shying away from controversial social issues, he will continue to stress his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.
He challenged the constitutionality of federal judges’ throwing out state laws banning gay marriages, saying the country has wrongly “surrendered to the doctrine of judicial supremacy.”
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Huckabee said he would not follow the lead of some GOP presidential candidates who are poised to let the issue die if the U.S. Supreme Court rules this year that all states must allow same-sex marriages.
In 1973, Huckabee said, others said abortion had ceased being an issue after the high court’s Roe v. Wade ruling outlawed state bans on the procedure.
“Did that settle it?” he said. “Forty-two years later, we are still debating (abortion).”
Huckabee also said Congress should vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act piece by piece and criticized what he called the president’s “disdain for the state of Israel.”
A 2008 candidate for president, Huckabee said nothing Thursday about running again. But some in the audience hope he’ll try again.
“He’s logical, he makes sense ... and he’s a Christian,” said Rebecca Perkins, 68, of Pineville. “He would make a great president.”
The event was sponsored by the Civitas Institute, a Raleigh-based conservative think tank, but Huckabee was introduced by the Rev. Mark Harris, a former Republican U.S. Senate candidate who is pastor at First Baptist.
Like many would-be presidential candidates, Huckabee has just published a new book about the people in “flyover country,” the land between America’s east and west coasts. Its title: “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy.” At the end of the town hall, a long line formed for people who wanted a signed copy of the book.