Russert first played a clip of Huckabee from a debate, in which Huckabee said; "We're a better country than to punish children for what their parents did." Then Russert showed a quote from Huckabee's "Secure America Plan", that gives a 120 day window for illegals to register and return back to their country of origin, otherwise be barred from re-entry for 10 years.
After quoting both statements out of context to set it up, Russert executed his seemingly perfect "gotcha".
- Russert-"Children born here are American citizens..."
- Huckabee-"Mmm Hmm"(agreement)
- Russert-"..and you were saying that, don't punish those kids. A week later, you said no, no, no send the parents home. And what happens to the kids?"
- Russert-"But they're American citizens. Why do they have to leave the country?"
- Huckabee-"Because they're...they're first; before they're American citizens, they're the children of their parents."
Russert even continued trying to make it look like Huckabee's answer resulted in punishing the child, in contradiction to his previous position statement. When he found that didn't work, he started another "gotcha" setup, about how sending home all those illegals might hurt our economy, which Huckabee quickly countered before letting the host complete his new setup.
Huckabee stood firm, his primary position being that we absolutely must secure the border. His not directly stated, but clearly suggested, idea being that if we discover negative secondary effect after securing the border; we can certainly find solutions that work. But first and foremost, we must secure the border.
Even those who, like me, think children born of illegals shouldn't be citizens have to give Mike Huckabee a lot of credit. He showed a great deal of courage in giving such an honest answer. I'm sure a lot of liberals will see Huckabee as an outright villain for daring to say the children should be expected to leave with their parents, and I'm sure he knows it.
But it still allows for those children to re-enter the country later, as citizens; thus, not punishing the children for the crime of the parents. And it still stays firm on securing the border and enforcing Huckabee's Secure America Plan.
I'm sure there will be times and issues where changing conditions or new information will result in Huckabee changing his mind. But it seems pretty clear that he's a man of integrity, and he's no flip-flopper.