Evangelicals will leave the Republican Party if it supports redefining marriage to include same-sex couples, Mike Huckabee said.
When asked if he believes the Republican Party will change its position and support gay marriage in a Wednesday Newsmax interview, Huckabee remarked, "They might, and if they do, they're going to lose a large part of their base because evangelicals will take a walk."
Huckabee currently hosts a Fox News show called "Huckabee." He was formerly the governor of Arkansas and ran for president in 2008. Before he entered politics, Huckabee was a Southern Baptist pastor and a religious radio broadcaster.
"And it's not because there's an anti-homosexual mood, and nobody's homophobic that I know of," he continued, "but many of us, and I consider myself included, base our standards not on the latest Washington Post poll, but on an objective standard, not a subjective standard."
Evangelicals comprise an important base within the Republican Party. Beginning in the late 1970s, a social movement commonly called the "Christian Right" was successful at mobilizing evangelicals to vote Republican. Before that, evangelicals were mostly Democrats or did not vote often. Today, about three out of four evangelicals vote Republican. In the 2012 election, about 78 percent of white "born-again" Christians voted for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, according to CNN exit polls.
The context of the question put to Huckabee was Sen. Rob Portman's (R-Ohio) announcement that he now supports the legalization of same-sex marriage. Portman said the change was influenced by conversations with his gay son.
"I have great sympathy and extraordinary admiration for Sen. Portman," Huckabee said. "I consider him a friend and I value his work in the Senate and think he's a great person. I think that the mistake is that we sometimes base our public policy decisions on how we feel, how we think, maybe even some personal experiences, and we don't regard a lot of these issues from the standpoint of an objective standard."
Like Huckabee, Republican strategist Karl Rove said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that the Republican Party could have a presidential candidate in 2016 that backs legalizing same-sex marriage.
Huckabee also explained what he meant by objective versus subjective standards.
"If we have subjective standards, that means that we're willing to move our standards based on the prevailing whims of culture," he said. "I think politicians have an obligation to be thermostats, not just thermometers. They're not simply to reflect the temperature of the room, or the culture, as it were. They're to set the standards for law, for what's right, for what's wrong, understanding that not everybody's going to agree with it, not everybody's going to accept it."
Last week, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus said that Republicans could learn from Huckabee on how to talk about the abortion and marriage issues.
"I always tell people: Listen to Governor Mike Huckabee. I don't know anyone that talks about them any better," Priebus said.