Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee hinted in a recent speech to pastors in Iowa he might seek office as an independent or a third-party candidate if the Republican nominee for president is pro-choice.

“You all know that I am a Republican, and what I am about to say is perhaps political heresy, but here goes,” Huckabee said in a video of a recent speech to pastors in West Des Moines posted last week on the candidate’s Web site.

“I’m not a Republican because I like politics,” Huckabee said. “I’m a Republican because it was the only place I could go where I could affirm and be affirmed in my deep conviction that life is a gift from the Almighty God that begins at conception and that we have a moral obligation to protect it so long as God gives it breath and life, and we do not have the right to take it artificially.”

Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister who was a pastor for 12 years before entering politics, told the crowd there are many people who switched from being Democrat to Republican “not because they moved, but because their parties did.”

“Let me be clear,” Huckabee said in setting up the line that drew the loudest applause in a 40-minute speech.

“If the party to which I am currently a member decides that it no longer believes the things that matter most–that are eternal, that have longer-lasting value than the politics of the next election–then I’ll have to keep looking and find some other place or be alone. But being alone in principle is better than being in a crowded room where nobody believes anything or stands for anything. If we don’t stand for something, we will fall for anything.”

Huckabee said he doesn’t understand how people “can tell us we shouldn’t change the Constitution to affirm that marriage means one man and one woman for life, but those very people would allow us to change the Word of the Living God so that marriage wouldn’t mean one man, one woman for life.”

Huckabee also had plenty to say about fellow Christians who write him off because they do not believe he can win in a general election.

“I hear people say we’ve got to make sure we can win,” he said. “I suggest if we gain the whole world and lose our soul, what has it profited us? It is not just about winning. The winning is important, but only if winning means we win with the principles that got us in.”

“If we sacrifice our commitment to family, to marriage, our commitment to life, our commitment to unique, intrinsic worth and value of every living human soul; if we forfeit our capacity to be moral giants because we are afraid of offending somebody, then I’m afraid that we’re no longer prophets,” he said. “We’re simply puppets.”

Huckabee urged pastors to be wary of politicians seeking their favor in exchange for votes

“It is not our job–and I speak now as a pastor to pastors–it is not our job to be the king’s friend,” he said. “It is our job to be the king’s greatest fear. We are to speak the truth to power.”

“I so fear that we will lose the Nathans of the world who say to the Davids, ‘Thou art the man,’ and rather say, ‘You da man!'” Huckabee said. “We’d best be careful that we don’t become so enamored with the invitations to the nice events, with the ability to be photographed with people in positions of power and influence that we forget it is not our duty to be their best friend. It is our duty to so much fear God and to have them fear that we would take a position that would be counter to what they’re doing.”

“Let us have the spirit of Stephen, who was willing to be stoned rather than to recant; the spirit of Peter, who was crucified upside down because he did not feel himself worthy to be crucified in the same manner of his Lord,” Huckabee said.

“We are not on this planet to be comfortable. We are on this planet to effect a change and a difference, to be salt and to be light,” he said. “And if salt has lost its savor, it is like sand to be trampled underfoot.”

“Salt is an irritant, but it is also a preservative,” he said. “And it’s most needed where things are putrefying and decaying, and if there ever was a time when things are putrefying and decaying it is right now in our culture.”

“And that’s why the pulpits of America cannot get so cozy with the systems that we forget that our ultimate purpose and goal is to be prophetic and to speak the clarion call of what’s right and what’s wrong, and to be light in a dark world, not light in the well-lit rooms,” he said. “That’s why our job is not just to be favored winners. It’s to be faithful witnesses of the truth.”

Huckabee, a past president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, is seeking to reach out to religious conservatives who don’t view any of the GOP presidential frontrunners as sharing their values, but there is little evidence he is taken seriously by leaders in his own denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention.

Richard Land, president of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, has said he admires Huckabee but doubts he can win. Land recently told CBN’s David Brody he thinks the race is still-unofficial candidate Fred Thompson’s to lose. Land has described the former Tennessee senator and “Law & Order” star as a “southern-fried Reagan” and “a tantalizing combination of charisma, conviction and electability.”

Another SBC leader, Executive Committee President and CEO Morris Chapman, was quoted as saying he hasn’t yet settled on a candidate, while adding: “Another Southern Baptist called Fred Thompson the Ronald Reagan of the South, and I think he has some of that appeal. He is a magnetic personality. He seems to articulate his opinions clearly. He seems to be unflappable.”

Huckabee turned down an invitation to speak at a major Baptist gathering early next year being spearheaded by former President Jimmy Carter. Huckabee initially agreed to be on the program of the New Baptist Convention Celebration in Atlanta but withdrew after Carter criticized President Bush’s international policy. Huckabee also said he thought the other program speakers tilted to the left.

Bob Allen is managing editor of

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