Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee told a crowd gathered at the Flathead County Fairgrounds Thursday night that he would soon decide whether to run for president in 2016.
Huckabee, who served as governor of Arkansas before launching a failed bid for the Republican nomination in 2008, was the keynote speaker at Stillwater Christian School’s For Such a Time As This dinner and fundraiser on March 19.
The annual event has attracted noted conservative and Christian speakers in recent years, including Oliver North, former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow and Dr. Ben Carson, another possible 2016 contender.
During Huckabee’s 45-minute speech, he talked about the importance of education and raising children in a Christian environment. He was also critical of public school systems and other institutions that are obsessed with “political correctness.”
“So many of the values that a mother and father give their children are undermined by an education system that has gone off the rails,” Huckabee told the crowd. “I don’t remember someone being hurt or injured (when I was younger) by someone talking about God or mentioning Christmas in a public school.”
He continued saying that the erosion of Christian values is leading to a “world that is decaying and rotting from within.” He also mentioned, but did not dwell on, other hot-button political issues of the day, including gay marriage, gun control and abortion, all of which he has expressed disapproval of in the past.
During a question and answer period following Huckabee’s speech, he discussed the recent election in Israel and was critical of President Barack Obama’s response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election. Huckabee said he was a longtime supporter of Netanyahu and likened him to England’s Winston Churchill.
“Israel is our only true ally in the Middle East and it’s unexplainable why the current administration would be so scornful of it,” he said.
A question likely at the top of many people’s minds, Huckabee was asked whether he would run for president in 2016. Earlier this year, he left his weekly television show on Fox News to explore another run for the White House. In Kalispell, he kept his true intentions close to the vest.
“I’m getting close to a decision but it won’t be tonight,” he said.
Huckabee’s speech came just a day after Stillwater Christian School announced a $1.8 million expansion that will add six classrooms to the facility located south of Kalispell.
Huckabee, who was a pastor before getting into politics, said that schools like Stillwater would help shape the next generation of Christians.
“You radically increase the likelihood that a student will turn out OK when that student is insulated, not isolated, with a Christian worldview,” he said.