The Republican frontrunner in Iowa, Mike Huckabee, declined to answer directly when asked if Jews can go to heaven.
Huckabee, the leader in some Iowa polls with the state’s presidential caucus a month away, is a former Southern Baptist preacher and Arkansas governor who has made a point of saying that he does not check his faith at the door when holding public office. But he seemed to take a different approach when asked Tuesday by radio host Don Imus if he believed that Jews could go to heaven.
“I think anybody can go to heaven,” Huckabee said, according to a report from MSNBC. “I think you could even go to heaven, and that’s a pretty thick stretch. I’m not saying you will; I’m just saying I think you could.”
On his second day back on the air, Imus refused to let the question drop. He asked Huckabee if someone must believe in Jesus Christ to go to heaven.
“You’re getting way into an area that I don’t know has anything to do with running for president,” Huckabee said. “For me to start telling everybody else what their beliefs are and the validity of them certainly is not my role, not only individually but absolutely has no business in my being president.”
Huckabee has sparked anxiety in some Jewish Democratic circles with his rejection of evolution and support for a federal ban on abortion. At the same time, he has drawn criticism from some conservatives over his support in Arkansas for tax increases and benefits for the children of illegal immigrants.