ABC’s Chris Cuomo, who previously tried to push John McCain to give a preference between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, asked Mike Huckabee, after citing Hillary Clinton, "can a woman be president?" Cuomo inquired this after mentioning that Huckabee signed an ad stating "a wife is to submit graciously to...her husband."
Huckabee appeared on the December 13 edition of "Good Morning America" to address his recent questioning of Mormon doctrine that "Jesus and the devil are brothers." Cuomo also asked Huckabee why he is "unwilling to say" that Mormons are Christians. Huckabee responded "it's not my place to start evaluating his faith, your faith, somebody else's."
It is also notable that GMA co-host Diane Sawyer previously attacked Huckabee for playing the "religion card."
The entire transcript is below.
CHRIS CUOMO: Now to the race for '08. For Republican candidates, has it come down to what one newspaper this morning calls a holy war for votes? At the center of that war, Governors Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. Mr. Huckabee has had a huge jump in the polls to the top of the pack fueled by the evangelical vote in the Iowa Caucuses and also by controversy. He joins us now live. Good morning, thank you for joining us.
FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR MIKE HUCKABEE: Thank you, Chris, great to be with you.
CUOMO: So let's get right to it. Are you basically asking people in Iowa and around the country to vote for you because you're a Christian?
HUCKABEE: Total nonsense. Absolutely not. In fact, one of the reasons that a lot of people are so completely surprised by our campaign is that we're number one now in Delaware, Michigan, places where it's not about evangelicals. It's about change. It's about somebody who's not from Washington, someone who grew up like most Americans connecting with the American people. This whole idea of a holy war is absolutely the creation of somebody, but is not the creation of my campaign. I get asked more God questions than anybody on the campaign trail, try to answer them all as honestly as I can. But that's not what is going on either in Iowa or the rest of the nation.
CUOMO: Well to the extent that the flames were stoked by your recent interview with "The New York Times Magazine" where you asked, "don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the Devil are brothers?" Now, I know you apologized to Mitt Romney. I know he accepted the apology.
CUOMO: But let me ask you, why did you ask that question? Did you ask it to bait the bias against Mormons among your followers?
HUCKABEE: Absolutely not. That's why I apologized to Mitt Romney. It was in the course of a conversation. The writer of the story actually knew more about Mormonism than I did. And I was asking him, because he was telling me things that I didn't know. I told him -- and I think it maybe in the article, it's an 8100 word article. And the only thing that was lifted out for the news stories was that one quote, ten words. And the interesting thing is, I was asking -- it was a conversation and it was more to ask him. Is that the case? And frankly didn't think much about it. I think he was surprised that it's become such a national story. But the point is that it did become a national story. I felt obligated to tell Mitt face to face, "look, that was not my intention, I apologize to you." He accepted it, done deal, it's over. I've been very careful because I've been asked, Chris, you can imagine, every day on the campaign trail, tell me about Mormonism. And my answer is I'm not going there. I'll tell you about my Baptist faith. I can barely explain that. I sure can't explain somebody else's and I'm not going to try.
CUOMO: But it keeps coming up mostly because it seems that you're drawing a distinction. You've been somewhat noncommittal about saying whether or not you think Mormons are Christians. You know Mitt Romney's come out and says he accepts Jesus Christ as his personal savior. Do you believe they're Christians? Why are you unwilling to say that?
HUCKABEE: Because it's not my place to start evaluating his faith, your faith, somebody else's. If I don't answer, people say I'm being evasive. If I do answer, they say I'm taking shots or drawing distinctions. So what I'm saying is I'll be happy to discuss what I believe. I'm not going to try to get into somebody else's heart, mind and soul and talk about what they believe. What I think we need to be talking about is not so much our differences of faith, but our differences on key issues. Whether it's taxes, whether it's immigration, whether it's the issue of how to protect this country, education, there's lots to talk about. I believe one of the reasons incredible poll numbers are going our way, is because I focused on a positive campaign. I've not done mailers, attack ads on television, I don't do robo calls against the other candidates. People are looking for someone they can be for, not somebody that they can just get disillusioned because the other candidates have hit him in the kneecaps with a ball bean hammer.
CUOMO: If the momentum continues the way it is and you become the candidate, the nominee and then you win the election, how will you deal with your faith? You say faith comes first, and your motto, faith, family, freedom, with the U.S. Constitution? That's what comes first for this country. Would you put the Constitution first or your faith?
HUCKABEE: Well, you always put the Constitution first. You know, I was a governor ten and a half years, longer in an executive position than anybody running for president. Nobody can find evidence that in Arkansas I tried to take the Capitol dome down and put up a steeple or that I said let's exchange our legislative meetings with prayer meetings. The point is I led an education reform. We rebuilt our road system. We made a transformation of protecting our natural resources. We made tax cuts. Those were the things that I focused on as governor because that was my job. And I'm going to do that job. This country has a wonderful long history of presidents who unapologetically also were people of faith. They didn't feel that they were muzzled because of their convictions. And no American should be.
CUOMO: Right --
HUCKABEE: Nobody --
CUOMO: It becomes just a question of evaluating what role your faith may play in your leadership. For example, in 1998, you signed a statement in a full-page ad about the family in "USA Today" that said "a wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ." Let me ask you, your main opponent on the Democratic side may well be Hillary Clinton. Can a woman be president?
HUCKABEE: Absolutely. In fact, I don't want it to be next year because I think I'd like to be president next year. So will there be a female president? Of course there will. And should there be? Absolutely. There's no gender test for being a president. Many women have been some of the greatest leaders in the world, whether it's Margaret Thatcher, other great women across this country. If you look at my cabinet, I had more women in my cabinet and on my staff in key positions, including chief of staff, than any other governor probably in Arkansas history.