PITTSBURGH (AP) — Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee called himself a "gun-clinger and a God-clinger" but didn't come close to saying whether he'll be a Republican presidential candidate next year when he delivered the keynote address Saturday at the annual National Rifle Association convention.
Huckabee was referring to a remark President Barack Obama once made about conservatives clinging to their guns and religion.
Huckabee also said Obama didn't receive an "F" rating from the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence because the president has helped gun owners — though gun owners have been allowed to pack weapons on Amtrak trains and carry them in federal parks since President Obama took office.
Rather, Huckabee said President Obama is simply not attacking gun owners' rights as quickly and effectively as anti-gun and gun control groups would like.
The White House has refused to comment on attacks by various Republicans who spoke at the convention earlier this week, instead referring reporters to an editorial the president wrote last month in an Arizona newspaper confirming that he considers the Second Amendment as a guarantee to an individual's right to own guns.
Huckabee, considered a possible GOP presidential hopeful, kept his criticism of Obama relatively light at the meeting in Pittsburgh — ridiculing him for encouraging people to buy hybrid cars in an economy. Huckabee said he recently saw a woman put just $5 worth of gas in her car because that's all she could afford.
He spoke mostly about how he had come to Pittsburgh to "celebrate America and celebrate its values" — including God, family, and a Second Amendment meant to safeguard freedom, not just hunting and target-shooting.
But he suggested that the next election would determine the future of the country, by telling a story about a comment his daughter wrote in a guest book after his family visited a Holocaust memorial in Israel years ago.
"Why didn't somebody do something?" Huckabee said she wrote.
"Today, you will not find a spunkier activist than my daughter, and I don't worry about her but I sometimes worry about us," Huckabee said, referring to conservatives who don't mobilize fully in national elections and for other political causes. "We cannot afford to be a generation that leaves our children with a huge debt and a very erosion of our values."