Mike Huckabee was a McCain rival.

The former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, emphasizing family values and health-care reform in his campaign. He won caucuses and primaries in Iowa, West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Kansas, and Louisiana, amassing 282 delegates. He ended his campaign March 4.

Huckabee spoke in support of Sen. John McCain Sept. 3 at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

Register senior writer Tim Drake spoke with him at the convention.

You have a solid pro-life record. John McCain has a pro-life record on abortion, but not on embryonic stem-cell research. Has the issue of abortion come back on center stage?

I wouldn’t say it’s back on center stage. It’s not about abortion; it’s about life. For me, the life issue is not an abortion issue; it’s a whole-life, a complete-life issue. It’s about the whole being from conception to its natural conclusion.

I’m concerned as much about the dignity and concern for the human person who is 8 years old and the person who is 80 years old. You can’t say that you care about them and want them to be fed and have health care, but let’s kill them off before they’re born, just as you can’t say you care about them before they’re born and not care about them later.

Compassion must be shown throughout life to be consistent.

Senator McCain has not talked much specifically about the role that faith plays in his decision making. What’s your take?

Faith is part of what makes Senator McCain tick. I traveled with Cindy McCain to Rwanda to look at entrepreneurial activities related to treating malaria and getting people out of poverty and hunger. I am very convinced of the authenticity of her faith and his.

Sarah Palin, too, has been clear, adamant and unashamed. Some people eat their soup a little louder, but that doesn’t mean it’s better. My faith was renewed through the Jesus movement of the 1970s. I come from a different influence than he did. That doesn’t mean that my faith is more valid than someone else’s.

Senator McCain comes from a generation when it was considered bad form to talk openly about faith. That doesn’t mean his faith is less valid than someone else’s. He was birthed in a different temperature. It in no way changes the genuineness of his faith. I’m very comfortable with it.

What do you think of Senator McCain’s choice of running mate?

I think he’s made a magnificent selection with Sarah Palin. He wanted to energize not just female voters, but also value voters. I use the term value voters rather than evangelical voters because it’s more comprehensive. It includes Catholics and mainline Protestants, as well as those who may not come from a faith background but are motivated by the three “F”s of faith, family and freedom.

The energy level in the campaign has totally shifted. The selection of her was enthusiastically received, but with some anxiety. The press didn’t intend it, but they’ve thrown Joseph in the well. What was intended for harm has turned out for good.

They’ve made her the hero of value voters and women by their relentless attack on her daughter and the level of derision pushed at her because she was the mayor of a small town.

I’m seeing a very different energy level then what existed several days ago. Senator McCain has truly changed the nature of the game.

Is there a double standard with how she’s being treated versus how Hillary Clinton was treated?

There’s a double standard with how Hillary was subjected to a level of sexism in the media. Sexism toward female candidates in this generation is just about racism was in the 1960s, though there isn’t violence directed toward them.

There’s a sense of revealing what was deep inside of people. The actions people have taken are revelations of what they’ve felt.

The columns being written reflect what’s been deep inside all along. There’s a sense that we knew all along … [that the media] were biased, but thanks for taking any doubts away.

Tim Drake is based in

St. Joseph, Minnesota.