Finding Florida's Religious Pulse

(CBS)
From CBS News' Joy Lin:

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. -- Mike Huckabee tried to pump some momentum into the religious arteries of Broward County today, touting endorsements from central figures involved with local hot button issues.

Although he wasn't present, Terry Schiavo's brother Bobby Schindler endorsed Huckabee as did Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle, who drew national attention to his gay-friendly town when he said he wanted to build an expensive single-occupancy public restroom on the beach to deter homosexual activity in public restrooms.

A reporter said Naugle had been on the record for calling gays sexually promiscuous, a comment Naugle -- standing next to Huckabee -- interjected to say was never made. The question was directed at Huckabee: did he think gays were sexually permiscuous?

"Some are and some aren't," Huckabee said. "You know I think that's a generalization that's not fair to make. What I do understand the mayor did was try to make some of the public facilities in this city acceptable so a child or any family with some sense of decency wouldn't come in on something that was absolutely disgraceful."

"I'm not going to get into the all the details of that," Huckabee continued. "I appreciate the Mayor and I appreciate his stand for wanting to have a community where every person could feel welcome and feel comfortable…Public facilities ought to be just that, public facilities. Public facilities should be a place where people from the public can feel comfortable and not feel like they they're going to be put in what ought to be very private encounters."

Broward County Right to Life also awarded Huckabee with the honor of "Champion for Life," while at the same time saying it wasn't able to endorse a candidate.

Earlier in the morning, Huckabee spoke at a religiously-intoned "Businessmen's and Businesswomen's Breakfast" at Calvary Chapel, where he expanded upon an idea he pushed at yesterday's debate: jumpstarting the U.S. economy by improving the country's infrastructure.

On the latest economic stimulus plan, Huckabee predicted the U.S. would "borrow money from China" and then "spend $150 billion of borrowed Chinese money" by turning it "back into the Chinese economy." He said rebates were insufficient to buy American made items like cars and would instead be used to buy cheap, Chinese-made goods.

"My question is: why don't we put that money into the infrastructure of the United States?" Referring to the congested roadways in Florida, Huckabee said highways and airways nationwide need to be retooled and made more efficient as they were dampening the nation's economic output. In addition to creating U.S. jobs with U.S. materials, Huckabee argued, such a plan would repair an infrastructure that is "falling apart."

Huckabee spoke at length about the immeasurable amount of "social capital" lost to traffic congestion because parents are unable to attend their children's "soccer games and dance recitals."

"There's a direct economic correlation between strong families and how much money as a taxpayer you pay," Huckabee said. "When I was governor of Arkansas, we did a little study and found that if a person grew up in a stable home, had two parents, was able to get an education, and go to college and finish. That person would end up paying about $2.5 million dollars over the course in his or her lifetime in overall taxes…On the other hand, if that person came from a broken, torn family, and ended up in our prison system, having gone through the juvenile justice system, that person would cost us over a million dollars in direct costs."

"There is a direct, economic correlation between the strength of marriages and families and the strength of America's economy," he said as the audience applauded.

"If you don't want to pay more taxes, one way to do it: Have stronger families."
  • Joy Lin

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