Huckabee To Latino Evangelicals: ‘I Don’t Speak Spanish… But I Do Speak Jesus’


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HOUSTON, TEXAS — In a flexing of its growing political muscle, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) welcomed to their convention this week two Republicans who have their eye on the White House: former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. At the event, the group unveiled a challenge to presidential candidates to pledge support for four “pillars” of immigration reform: “No amnesty, secure borders, secure families, and an integration process.” But the millions-strong Evangelical group showed little interest in holding Bush or Huckabee’s feet to the fire on what they claim is their make-or-break issue.
At a press conference Wednesday, Huckabee said he would not even consider supporting immigration reform until the US/Mexico border is further militarized.
“The first thing you do is not go down to Home Depot and shop for a faucet. You stop the leak. And the first thing we have to do is to control our border,” he said. “Once we have convinced the American people that we’re serious about that, then I think Americans are willing to have a rational and sensible but just approach to the process.”
When pressed on whether he would ever support a path to legal status or citizenship for undocumented people, he responded: “You’re asking me to get to second base, but we haven’t gotten to first yet.” As for the NHCLC’s immigration reform pledge, Huckabee told ThinkProgress: “I haven’t read it, so it would be hard to commit to signing something I haven’t read. I won’t even sign a bank note I haven’t read.”
Huckabee was seated directly next to NHCLC president Samuel Rodriguez as he said this — the man who earlier that day had vowed that religious Latino voters will abandon Republicans who don’t get on board with immigration reform, including a path to legal status for undocumented people in the United States.
But not only did Huckabee’s speech to the roughly thousand conference attendees get multiple standing ovations, Rodriguez publicly bestowed a blessing on him, booming into the microphone: “Righteous God, we thank you, we give you honor and glory for the life the ministry and the calling and the assignment of Mike Huckabee, we know you have great things in store for him, you have already put so many good things in his life… In these difficult days in our nation, you have gifted him and called him to be light in the midst of darkness.”
Huckabee’s speech barely touched on immigration, focusing instead on his impoverished childhood and religious calling. “I don’t speak Spanish…but I do speak Jesus,” he said, a line that won raucous cheers from the audience.
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