Huckabee: McCain mistake not to debate

Published 10:43 pm Thursday, September 25, 2008

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) – Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Thursday that Sen. John McCain made a “huge mistake” by even discussing canceling the presidential debate with Sen. Barack Obama.

McCain’s campaign has said the Republican wouldn’t participate in the Mississippi debate Friday unless there was a consensus on the financial crisis, but Obama still wants the debate to go on.

Huckabee defeated McCain in the Alabama GOP primary in February.

Huckabee said Thursday in Mobile that the people need to hear both candidates. He said that’s “far better than heading to Washington” to huddle with senators.

He said the candidates should level with the people about the financial crisis and say the “heart of this is greed.”

Huckabee said he still backs McCain’s candidacy, but said the Arizona senator should not have put his campaign on hold to deal with the financial crisis on Wall Street. He said a president must be prepared to “deal with the unexpected.”

“You can’t just say, ‘World stop for a moment. I’m going to cancel everything,'” Huckabee said.

Huckabee also was critical of President Bush’s handling of the crisis.

He said to lay the $700 billion obligation on the nation “in 24 hours” amounts to “holding the country hostage.”

“I just think the American people ought to be screaming their lungs out, saying to Congress, not so fast. That’s our money you’re giving away,” Huckabee said.

He said the burden of the $700 billion relief package will fall on the next generation and those in their teens and 20s.

Huckabee spoke to reporters before attending a benefit for the Baptist-affiliated University of Mobile. Huckabee is a Baptist minister.

While in Mobile, he also played a little blues guitar with a student group.

Since losing his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, Huckabee said he has formed a political action committee and advises other candidates.

“I don’t have any immediate plans to seek office,” he said.