HOPE, Ark. (Christian Examiner) – Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee announced today he is running for president of the United States, joining world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson and businesswoman Carly Fiorina who announced yesterday.
But each of the three new entrants stand in sharp contrast to each other, including where they chose to announce their respective candidacies. Carson made the announcement in the city he considers his hometown: Detroit. Fiorina used social media in place of a locale. Huckabee stayed in Hope.
The pastor and former governor at least three times in his 30-minute speech this morning used the phrase "From Hope to Higher Ground" as he gave a thoroughly nuanced explanation of the issues that concern him and that should concern all Americans, he said.
He spoke to extended applause about abolishing "the IRS bullies," reclaiming April 15 as a "beautiful spring day," and enacting a "fair tax," which would be a tax on purchases rather than on wages.
"I learned how to govern and I learned how to lead," Huckabee said about what he said was his proven ability to work with Democrats.
Other points Huckabee emphasized: stagnant wages, protecting Social Security benefits, states rights in government and in education, and defeating those who would wage war against the United States.
Drawing sharp contrasts with some presumed front runners, Huckabee said he did not come from a family dynasty, but a working family. "I grew up blue collar, not blue blood," he said in an apparent reference to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Seemingly taking aim at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's proposal to "trim" Social Security benefits and increase the retirement age, he said, "If Congress wants to take away someone's retirement, let them end their congressional pensions, not your Social Security."
He also put Senators Rand Paul (Ky.) and Ted Cruz (Texas) in the crosshairs: Cruz for boasting about repealing Obamacare "and then turning around and signing up for it." Paul for running for reelection as senator while also seeking the Oval Office. "At least have the integrity and decency to resign the one you don't want anymore and pursue the one you'd rather have," Huckabee said.
But Huckabee also addressed key policy issues.
'As president, I promise you, we will no longer try to contain jihadism," Huckabee said. "We will defeat it."
He also insists on a secure border, though he favors "creating a path to citizenship for children of immigrant parents who brought them to the U.S. illegally," according to Fox News. Likewise, he denounced virtually unchecked abortion and the rise of same-sex marriage, saying the United States has "lost our way, morally."
"The Supreme Court is not the Supreme Being," Huckabee noted. "They cannot overturn the laws of nature or of nature's God."
He also said he would work on are term limits for all three branches of government, to get the nation back to what its founders envisioned: a citizen's government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Ben Carson, M.D., spoke Monday morning at the Detroit Music Hall, following a prayer breakfast and assembly at the Detroit high school that bears his name.
The music that preceded his arrival on the stage included 30 minutes of taped orchestration of a medley of American stalwarts while people found their seats; a black acappella choir; and "Veritas," and a male quintet from Nashville, who also sang without instrumentation.
Carson introduced his wife, Candy – "my best friend," he called her – their three sons and their wives, sitting in the audience, and then himself.
"I'm Ben Carson and I'm a candidate for president of the United States," he said and gave an almost sheepish grin to his wife, as if to say, "Can you believe I'm saying this?" as the audience erupted into applause.
Carson's gentle and nearly soft voice – unlike a politician's tirade – illustrated the "calm unwavering resolve" with which he plans to lead America, a pre-announcement video said.
"America remains a place of dreams," said the physician who grew up in poverty. "I have no desire to get rid of safety nets for people who need them. I have a strong desire to get rid of programs that create dependency in able-bodied people."
He is not politically correct because he is not a politician, Carson said. "I'm not even asking people to vote for me. I'm just asking people to listen. The real pedigree we need to heal this country is someone who believes in our Constitution. ... Listen and think for yourself. Don't listen to pundits and the people who try to control everything."
Six years in a row named among the top 10 businesswomen in America, Carly Fiorina supporters present her as the Republican answer to Democratic leader Hillary Clinton.
Fiorina touts her rise from secretary to CEO and her interaction with international leaders, and her understanding of "how the economy actually works," she told reporters in a conference call yesterday. Her private-sector background and conservative credentials – she's adamantly pro-life – make her the best-positioned candidate to take Clinton on, she said.
"I understand executive decision-making, which is making a tough call in a tough time with high stakes," she told ABC News Monday.
Carson, Fiorina and Huckabee join already announced presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz, (R-Texas); Sen. Rand Paul, (R-Ky.); and Sen. Marco Rubio, (R-Fla.)