COLUMBIA, South Carolina — One of Newt Gingrich’s most prominent supporters in Congress, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), took sides in the Huckabee-led debate over foreign aid, and it wasn’t with the former House speaker.
Mike Huckabee spoke at a South Carolina luncheon yesterday and slammed Republicans’ calls to eliminate foreign aid, calling such a prospect “outrightly foolish” and “un-Christian.” Gingrich, who supports zeroing out foreign aid, spoke immediately following Huckabee, but did not address the former Arkansas governor’s criticisms.
Following the event, ThinkProgress spoke with Franks, who had listened to both speeches. The Arizona congressman said Huckabee’s message was “magnificent” and “right on.” When ThinkProgress noted that Gingrich was one of the Republicans who Huckabee targeted for wanting to eliminate foreign aid, Franks was reluctant to criticize his candidate of choice, saying simply, “I’m going to leave that right there”:
FRANKS: Scott, Mr. Huckabee articulates subjects like that in a way all of us wish we could. I thought he was magnificent. I’m considered one of the most conservative members of Congress and I don’t think I could have articulated my own perspective any better than that. He’s right on. I just think he’s right.
KEYES: Do you think that the Republican Party has kind of lost its way on the issue of foreign aid?
FRANKS: I think that they have to make the distinction between places where our engagement can further the cause of freedom and places where it furthers the cause of surrender. There is a difference, there is a distinction. [...]
KEYES: I was just curious to get your reaction because Speaker Gingrich is one of the folks who have called for zeroing out foreign aid which Huckabee was very critical of.
FRANKS: I’m going to leave that right there.
Listen to it:
Foreign aid accounts for less than 1 percent of the federal budget, yet Republicans have regularly demagogued the issue when discussing how to eliminate the budget deficit. Gingrich is one of the worst offenders, declaring in a recent South Carolina debate that all current recipients of American aid “ought to start off at zero and say, explain to me why I should give you a penny.”