During his first campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Huckabee delivered an extensive policy speech at the Center for Strategic International Studies in September 2007, in which he slammed the Bush administration's decision to label Iran in the "Axis of Evil" and argued for more than just a military option to dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions.
"When President Bush included Iran in his Axis of Evil, everything went downhill fast," Huckabee said in the 2007 speech, according to a transcript posted
on the Center for Foreign Relations' website.
And in his appeal for more engagement, Huckabee said the lack of dialogue would make it "impossible to accomplish anything."
"We haven't had diplomatic relations with Iran in almost 30 years, my whole adult life. A lot of good it's done us. Putting this in human terms, all of us know that when we stop talking to a parent or a sibling or a friend, it's impossible to accomplish anything, impossible to resolve differences and move the relationship forward. The same is true for countries," Huckabee said.
Buzzfeed News first reported
on Monday the 2007 comments after obtaining audio of the speech.
Those comments are starkly at odds with Huckabee's stance in recent months as he campaigns for the Republican nomination for a second time, this time before the backdrop of a nuclear deal brokered by the Obama administration.
Even before the deal was brokered this summer, Huckabee charged that sealing any deal with Iran was equivalent to giving a pyromaniac "a 10-gallon gas can and a book of matches."
And most recently, Huckabee's campaign posted an ad online that included footage from the controversial 1964 "Daisy" ad
that features a little girl picking petals off a flower before a nuclear bomb explodes on screen.
"A threat to Israel is a threat to America. Stand with Israel. Reject a nuclear Iran," says the text flashing at the end of Huckabee's ad.
Huckabee's press for diplomacy in 2007 did, however, call for resolution of not just the nuclear issue, but also concerns over Iran's bad behavior in the region and sponsorship of terrorist organizations -- issues that were not negotiated in the deal the Obama administration brokered with Iran.
Even so, Huckabee argued then that the U.S. could offer Iran "valuable incentives" to abandon its nuclear ambitions and stop its sponsorship of terrorism in the region: "trade and economic assistance, full diplomatic relations and security guarantees."
And he insisted the U.S. could live with "a domesticated Iran."