Huckabee: Romney Speech A "Good Thing"

From CBS News' Joy Lin:

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- During a press conference with his wife Janet by his side, Huckabee was asked about his opinion of the Romney speech. Huckabee said he hadn't been able to watch the speech in its entirety, although he said, from what he could tell, it was a "well prepared, well delivered speech" that was a "good thing" and "healthy for all of us" in that religion was being dicussed in the public square. He said he did not see enough of it to say whether he had differences, and even if he did, he would not share them because the "whole point of the speech for him to identify his own perspective." Huckabee said he had "nothing but respect" for his coming forth. He said he had been clear about his own values, and it was important for candidates to share "their value systems" and "what drives us" and "frames" decisions.

Asked about the increased scrutiny he has been getting, Huckabee said, "This is not new. If you were a Republican in Arkansas, you will have been through some...some serious fastballs to the head." He said its "old ground plowed before" and the truth is his "best ally." He said the he jokes it got him so upset that he had to take "half a baby asprin" last night to get to bed.

Huckabee said he plans on announcing some "hefty endorsements" when he is in Florida Sunday for the Univision debate. He said he has "growing" organization in Florida and Texas. He said he had an "amazing" level of volunteers organizing themselves in "meet up groups" online.

Huckabee was also asked about the critical attention he received on the National Intelligence Estimate report. He said it was an "ambush question," stating it came out at 10am and a reporter asked about it late in the afternoon after reporters had trailed him non-stop. Huckabee said, "George Bush had it for four years and he hadn't read it yet"

Huckabee said there were 16 agencies contributing to the report, which was four years old and still mostly classified, and he was "assuming only a handful of people" had read it in its entirety. He said, "in a way, the report tells us we've got a serious problem with our intelligence agencies. The same intelligence agencies that told us it was a slam dunk, there were weapons of mass destruction and there would be no difficulty in taking Iraq were the ones who issued this report." He said it was "interesting" that the a lot of people who had "pilloried" the intelligence community for saying Iraq would be a "slam dunk" were now "heralding" this report as being the "gospel truth." huckabee, they could not "have it both ways." He said, if people wanted to "pound" the intelligence agencies for the wmd report, then the best thing to do would be -- quoting Reagan -- "trust but verify." He said the us does not "absolutely, positively know" whether iran has an ongoing nuclear reactor program if the "only source of information is the same body of agencies that gave us the wmd report."

Huckabee said his policy on Iran would be to get out of "our enslavement to oil." In the past, Huckabee had said indirect diplomacy would be an effective tool in U.S.-Iran relations.

When asked if he considered himself and economist populist as many had labeled him and how he thought he would appeal to economic conservatives, Huckabee said he considered himself an "economic conservative" but also a person "who understands what its like to be at the bottom of the economic heap." He said that if the U.S. had a tax policy like his fair tax propsal, which he said would policy help everybody, it would be better to the top and the bottom. Continuing, he said he "didn't really care if people call him an economic populist so long as they vote for him.