Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Tuesday that the foundational moral issues important to our nation are the sanctity of life and of marriage.
Huckabee said the Constitution should be amended for clarity in both areas.
"One is to really protect human life from the point of conception. It's wrong to ever believe that a human being can own another human being, we resolved that with slavery," he said. "We clearly saw that as a moral issue. We amended the Constitution to clarify that. Now we have a new area of moral confusion."
Huckabee said that people have the right to live any way they wish and he respects that.
"But nobody has a right to redefine what marriage means, that's a step beyond personal lifestyle choice," he said. "That's a definition that has never existed in any culture or society."
Huckabee said the foundation for all issues facing America is how we treat each other as human beings.
"On this rests our civilization and culture," he said, "on whether we treat others as we wish to be treated."
Though he gives precedence to issues of human value, Huckabee said he understands the immediacy of the economy crisis.
"The best thing the government can do is to give people more of their own money that they can invest in their communities," he said. "That's the way it's suppose to work. The government was never intended to be a charitable organization. It was intended to protect our borders, essentially keep us free and safe, and we would take care of each other at the family level, at the community level."
He said the federal government should be the last resort, not the first.
"One of the things the federal government needs to be doing is decentralizing power and empowering families to keep more of what they earn," he said, "so they're not obligated to give half of what they make to the government and then find themselves unable to take care of their family."
Huckabee, a conservative Republican and anti-abortion advocate, said he does not support candidates based on party affiliation, but rather ideological values.
"I am Republican because of convictions and ideology, I'm not ideological because I'm a Republican," he said.
Huckabee said he would vote for a democrat if he was the person best suited to lead.
"I don't just automatically pull the 'R' button just because a person if Republican," he said. "I want them to stand for the things that matter to me."
Huckabee said principles are more important than the party.
"If the Republicans were to abandon the principle of sanctity of life, traditional marriage or low taxes, I would feel like that it wasn't that I left the Republican Party but that they left me," he said. "I'm not pro-life because of politics. I got into politics because I'm pro-life."
Huckabee finished second in the Republican presidential primaries and said people were surprised that he stayed in the race as long as he did. He was outnumbered 10 to one or 20 to one in some cases in campaign funds, he said.
"We were extraordinarily frugal," Huckabee said.
His staff would look for the lowest hotel prices on the internet because money was tight.
"William Shatner would be so proud of their negotiations," he said.
On a visit to the Houston-area, Huckabee's staff booked a hotel near Hobby Airport. Huckabee said he didn't know people could still pay to get in the hotel.
"I called my wife and I said, 'Janet, first of all, I am the only guy in this hotel who has sleeves. I am so out of place here. I don't have any tattoos I don't have any metal piercings, I don't smoke and I speak English,'" he said.
Huckabee told his wife to contact the Houston Police Department if she did not hear from him the next morning.
"They'll find me in a chalk outline somewhere out there," he said with a laugh.
Despite the fiscal shortcomings, Huckabee said his staff charged through the campaign. He said most people would be surprised to hear that the media did a fair and decent job overall, but he still faced some difficulties.
"Some tried and they almost ignored that I had been a governor for 10 1/2 years and previously a lieutenant governor," he said. "That I had more executive experience than anyone. They talked about me from being a pastor, 20 years before."
But Huckabee said the larger disservice - to himself and to the county - was the media focus on process rather than policies.
"They always wanted to know how much money have you raised, how much staff do you have, but that didn't mean a thing as to whether or not I'd be a good president," he said.
"What they ought to be talking about is what are their policies for health care, education, national defense, border security, that's what makes a good president. They never ask those questions."
Huckabee said he was more widely recognized after his campaign.
"I'm recognized more now than I was during the campaign, when I could have really used it," he said.
He said that people either come up to him uncertain if he's a childhood friend or presidential hopeful, and others promise loyalty.
"If everybody who says they voted for me actually voted for me, folks, I'd be the nominee right now," he said.
Huckabee was the guest speaker for the United for Life event Tuesday evening at the Brazos County Exposition Center sponsored by the Hope Pregnancy Centers of the Brazos Valley. He spoke on Philippians 2:1-4.
"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose," the verses state.
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to you own interest, but also to the interest of other."
Tracy Frank, executive of the Hope Pregnancy Center, said calling abortion a choice devalues human life.
"God did give us free will and we make choices every day: good and bad, large and small," she said. "Our desire is that no one be forced to make a choice without knowing the short and long term consequences."
Huckabee said he called the generation of his parents the greatest generation, those that survived the great depression and a world war.
"I can't think of any group of people that did more to put aside their own interests to elevate the lives of their children," he said. "Parents were willing to make extraordinary sacrifices of themselves for their kids."
Huckabee said he's worried by the priorities of the current generation.
"A new generation has come that has decided that it will sacrifice their own children to save themselves," he said. "If we're more concerned about ourselves than those that will come after us, then we are not being true to that spirit our founders had."
He said that even though people say some lives are unwanted, that does not give the right to end the life of a human being. He said he is not phased by arguments of science.
"It's irrefutably scientifically correct to say conception is the beginning of lif," he said. "It is irrefutably life different from that of the mother. It is not like the appendix or the gall bladder, because even the blood type might not be the same."
Anti-abortion is not about condemning people, Huckabee said, it's about offering help and counseling.
He said the reaffirmation of his anti-abortion beliefs didn't come from counseling pregnant teenagers; it came from counseling women in their late 20s and early 30s who had an abortion when they were teenagers.
"They were suddenly painfully aware of the decision the made 10, 15 years ago," he said.
Huckabee said the Hope Pregnancy Center offers a wonderful message.
"It's not just offering medical service, it's offering something that no medicine can ever heal," he said. "It's bringing the grace of God and the love of God and knowing that there is nothing on earth we can do make God love us less."
"God will never turn his back on them, will never quit loving them, and will never quit helping them to know that he wants that life to live," he said.
Every time a person makes a contribution to Hope Pregnancy Center, he said, they're contributing to the continuance of a human being
"What might have those children been? What might they have become?" he said. "Might they have been the one to find a cure for cancer? We'll never know."
Huckabee compared the moral prominence of anti-abortion movements to the abolition of slavery.
"One-hundred and fifty years ago, people, but not just people, but our courts, actually ruled that it was okay for one person to own another person. This was the Supreme Court," he said. "All of us now recognize that it was morally repugnant to ever believe that"
He said the nation needs to realize that, similar to slavery, abortion is a moral, not a political issue. Political issues can vary state to state, he said, but moral issues are nation-wide.
"We would never want someone to take our life because someone else decided we were in the way or an inconvenience," he said. "God will ultimately judge us not by how much money we had, not by how many people we knew, but how we related to his character in Christ."
Following the speech, Huckabee signed pre-purchased copies of his book "Do the Right Thing" - set for release in November. This will be Huckabee's sixth book release.
Huckabee donated all proceeds of book sales for the evening to the Hope Pregnancy Center
The Hope Pregnancy Center is a faith-based, nonprofit organization that offers free services, such as pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, peer counseling, parenting and life skills classes - including a Dr. Dad class - and material aid based on an "earn while you learn" system.
Kay Martin, a Bryan resident, has been involved with the Hope Pregnancy Center for several years.
"I've been real excited about what Hope stands for and what it does," Martin said.
Huckabee served as Arkansas lieutenant governor from 1993 to 1996 and as Arkansas governor from 1997 to 2007. He was a pastor and denominational leader and became the youngest president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.
"He delivered a marvelous message," Martin said. "One we all needed to hear."