Newly minted Iowa frontrunner Mike Huckabee appeared on This Week with George Stephanopoulos to defend his record in Arkansas that's coming under increased scrutiny as he gains in the polls.
Excerpts . . .
On polls in Iowa:
"I'm not peaking at all. I'm still gaining and growing. You peak when you stop. We haven't stopped yet."
On his support for some education benefits for the children of illegal immigrants in Arkansas:
"If you have a child who's been there since he's five, six years old, or even since he's 13, and he's had his entire high school experience sitting along Arkansas students, the point is, is he better off going to college and becoming a taxpayer, as opposed to not going to college and potentially becoming a tax taker?"
On whether he would support federal aid, like Pell grants and student loans for children of illegal immigrants:
"I'm not sure that I would support that. There's a difference between being punished and being rewarded."
On his opposition to requiring proof of citizenship to vote in Arkansas:
"I think the most important thing to do is to make sure that is done at the federal level, so if you're going to check for authentic identification, that you do it with people who aren't at the entry level of a state office."
On Club for Growth criticism about raising taxes in Arkansas:
"I'm more embarrassed about how I looked at that particular point than what I said. Because that was a put up or shut up moment as I spoke to the legislature. The context was we were days away from a budget shutdown that would've closed the government in Arkansas . . . The context of that speech was, you want a surcharge, you want a sales tax, ok, but we've got to have a budget people. If you don't like my ideas, let's get yours out there."
On his signing of a bill that decreased jail time for some meth producers:
"We were hard on drug offenders and drug dealers. But to balance being tough on drug dealers . . . but also to be a little bit kinder to taxpayers and not putting people in unnecessarily long sentences when there really was no call for it."
On whether Mitt Romney is a Christian:
"Mitt Romney has to answer that. Nobody can answer for another person. I'm not going to get into that argument."
On Hillary Clinton's experience:
"When I hear her talk about her experience, it's not like that experience has been as the decision-maker, the person upon who's shoulders those responsibilities fell. What I have in this race, is actually having sat at the desk, been in that chair, made the decisions, and have to take responsibility for those decisions."
On the charge he doesn't have the resources to win the general election:
"I've been amazed at all the people who set certain criteria and said that I wouldn't get where I ended up being. Now I'm leading in Iowa, I'm in third place in New Hampshire. Rasmussen yesterday has me second place nationally. I'm second in Florida, second in Texas, and you know what, I'm not supposed to be here."