From CBS News' Joy Lin:
GREENVILLE, S.C. -- "I want to visit with you because our country today heard some very bad news," Mike Huckabee said today in a speech to a crowd of approximately 250 people. "Today the unemployment rate in this country has risen now to 6 percent...It is one of the highest unemployment numbers we've had in a a while. Clearly there are things in this country that are on the wrong track."
Huckabee pointed out that he was the only candidate at the GOP debate in Dearborn, Michigan who said the economy was particularly difficult on the middle class, even if the macroeconomy looked good.
Today there are a lot of people talking about the economy," said Huckabee. "My point is that they should have been talking about it months ago. They would've been talking about it months ago if they listened to more people and not just a handful of people at the top."
Huckabee observed that today, "people are at a point where there's significant challenges to their lives. Fact is if you're buying gasoilne, you're making 75 to 80 cents more today for a gallon of gasoline than you paid a year ago. That affects the way you live...it also affects everything you buy at the store, so when you reach for a loaf of bread, a dozen eggs, a carton of milk, you pay more for those items too."
Huckabee said Bush's newly unveiled stimulus plan is "on the right track" and agreed with the president that tax cuts need to be permanent. "People need to know those tax cuts are not going to be immeasureably changed," he said.
"But in the long term, you've got to give American people, not only individual consumers, but you've got to give business people a clear indication that you're not going to raise their taxes because that would have a...counter effect upon trying to revive the economy. It would be devastating." said Huckabee in a satellite interview with MSNBC following the speech.
"I think ultimately, you need to be... looking at enforcing our trade agreements--far more so on both sides of the border, we haven't done that. We have trading partners who cheat, the result is we lose jobs. People lose jobs, they don't have any money to spend. They don't have money to spend, they don't buy homes, cars, next thing you know we're in a recession. So if we're really serious about it, it has to start with jobs. That's where we really need to be focused."
Huckabee later seized the chance to call out one of his competitors on a obliquely related issue when asked about reports of push polling, which he has repeatedly denounced.
"I hate push polling. I wish it didn't happen. It certainly isn't happening with our permission, blessing or encouragement."