“I want to be the president for all of America, not just for people who are already hard-core Republicans,” Huckabee said at a post-event press conference in Silver Spring , Md. “I’m kind of surprised that I’m the only Republican who is here.”
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Huckabee addressed the executive council immediately before two Democratic presidential candidates: Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Democratic frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton and ex-Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) will speak to the group on Thursday.
Huckabee, the 2008 GOP winner of the Iowa caucuses, is an outspoken skeptic of trade deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and often warns against the power of big corporations over the GOP.
On Wednesday, he decried the loss of 5 million manufacturing jobs and 60,000 plants since 2000, as well as the $11 trillion trade deficit since 1990.
“Those are not good things for American working families, and we need to be talking about it,” he said, praising the AFL-CIO for operating some of the most extensive training programs to get into trades and crafts.
Asked about collective bargaining, Huckabee said he defers to the states on whether to pass right-to-work laws.
“I’m not opposed for people to make their own choices about collective bargaining and unionization,” he said. “That’s a choice that people ought to be able to make.”
“The demographics of a state can be very different in terms of ethnic makeup of the states. I just think the federal government has done a miserable job in trying to dictate to the local level of how to best govern ourselves,” he added.
Huckabee also said he has “no regrets” about his comment over the weekend that President Obama is marching Israel to “the door of the oven” with his Iran nuclear deal.
“I still feel like I’m speaking truth,” he said Wednesday. “The overwhelming response I’ve had, even from Israel, has been very affirming.
“I didn’t say what I said because I thought it was going to be popular or unpopular,” he added. “I said it because I believed it, and I still believe it. By the way, today we tweeted out some comments of many of the leaders of the Israeli government using the exact language that I’ve used, almost verbatim.”
Then, Huckabee again invoked Nazi Germany.
“The graphic language was appropriate, and it was consistent with the language that they themselves have employed in order to talk about Israel and the United States,” Huckabee said.
“And I think Americans and the rest of the world need to be very clear that accommodating this regime in Iran is very akin to accommodating the [Nazi] regime 70 years ago, and it was a disastrous failure. We did not take seriously the threats that were being made. How can we not take seriously the threats that have been made for 36 years by the current Iranian regime?”