Huckabee addresses campus and local community at political rally Oct. 1

Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Arkansas) speaks to UNA students, faculty and staff Oct. 1. College Republicans hosted the event.

For the first time in UNA history, a presidential candidate addressed the campus community.

College Republicans hosted a rally for Republican candidate Mike Huckabee Oct. 1 and invited students, faculty, staff and Shoals residents to attend.

“Folks, we’re in trouble,” Huckabee said. “I wouldn’t be running for president if I didn’t think this country could come out of the tailspin it’s in. This country can get back on its feet again. We don’t have to say that the best days are behind us.”

Huckabee is the first presidential candidate to visit the quad-cities area since Jimmy Carter announced re-election in 1980.

The former governor of Arkansas addressed issues regarding poverty, open borders, the IRS, voting trends and student debt.

“For every single college student here today, we owe you more than a $19 trillion debt and a collapsed economy in a world in which your student debt cannot (be paid) back based on the meager job prospects that await,” he said.

He said he believes the current state of the country is not one he would wish on his family.

“I am not willing to march my five grandchildren through the charred remains of a once great country called America and say, ‘Here you go, good luck with it,’” he said. “We owe you more than that.”

College Republicans President Nathaniel White said Huckabee voiced interest in coming to UNA, and the RSO encouraged the learning opportunity.

“Having a candidate on campus is an incredible opportunity,” he said. “It’s a learning experience for College Republicans and for the police department (for security purposes).”

White said while students may not agree with Huckabee, his visit has piqued the interest of other candidates.

“He wanted to go somewhere others hadn’t considered,” he said. “Now other campaigns are interested in coming.”

Sophomore Viktoria Piepke attended the rally as extra credit for her Media Writing class. However, she said she did not agree with Huckabee’s views.

“He talked about climate change and he’s more concerned about beheading than a sunburn,” she said. “I didn’t like him. It reaffirmed my not liking him.”

Huckabee referred to President Obama’s recent interests in climate change and claimed there were bigger issues, specifically the Islamic State group.

“I’m a whole lot more worried about a beheading than I am a sunburn,” he said.

Freshman Tyler Redman agreed with Piepke and said Huckabee’s stance was not factually based.

“I feel like that shows he has a fundamental misunderstanding about climate change,” he said. “I feel like a sunburn is not really related to climate change. I guess it could be, but there’s a bigger issue than that.”

Despite the quote, Redman said he enjoyed the opportunity and would like to see more presidential candidates on campus in the future.

“I’ve never seen a presidential candidate in the flesh before,” he said. “Even if I don’t necessarily agree with their beliefs and standpoints, I’d at least like to give them a chance.”

White said College Republicans tries to host events for everyone, not specifically for those affiliated with the party.

“We had a great time organizing this event,” he said. “We learned a lot, and we were elated to bring a candidate, but we’re not stopping there.”