From NBC's Lauren Appelbaum
Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio added his name to endorsers jumping to support the Huckabee campaign. Rubio is the state's first Cuban-American House Speaker and could carry weight in Florida's upcoming Jan. 29 primary. Although Huckabee previously opposed the Cuban embargo, he has since changed his opinion.
During last night's Univision debate, the Thompson campaign sent out an email, citing Huckabee's position from 2002 when he called for the end to the embargo. This morning, Huckabee said his opposition stemmed from trying to protect Arkansas' rice industry and economy while he was the state's governor.
"The reality is when you understand better why that is an important tool in keeping the propaganda machine from being so well-funded and putting more pressure on the tyranny, dictatorship of the Castros -- one thing you will never find is any softness on my part toward Castro," Huckabee said at South Miami's La Carreta restaurant. "I'm always subject to learning, to growing and never being so stubborn and maybe bull-headed that when we're confronted with important facts about this policy that we wouldn't come to the place where we make the right decisions, not just for Cuban Americans but for this country and its relationship to Cuba overall."
The endorsement highlights the importance of the Hispanic vote. All of the Republican candidates, with the exception of Ron Paul, hoped to get Speaker Rubio's endorsement.
"This may not do a lot for Marco's career, but it's sure going to do a lot for mine," Huckabee said. "I know there are going to be a lot of people saying everyone running for president wanted the endorsement of the speaker. And they did. Everyone sought, everyone asked for, no one would have turned it down."
After the endorsement, reporters barraged Huckabee with questions regarding his opinion on homosexuality. "Let's understand what sin means -- sin means missing the mark," he responded. "Missing the mark can mean missing the mark in any area. We've all missed the mark. ... How we miss the mark is less important than we all miss the mark. The mark is that we have marriage -- men and women, they marry, they create children, and they train their replacements and you have a future generation then that creates their replacements and trains them. That's the mark. If we didn't have that as the ideal, we wouldn't have a civilization that was able to perpetuate."
When asked if he would not allow a homosexual person to hold a position in a Huckabee administration, the former governor clearly stated that would not be the case. Huckabee said he had hired gay people to work for him in the past.
"If I did that, I couldn't have anybody in my administration," Huckabee said of hiring those who have sinned. "In fact, I think I couldn't be in it because I missed the mark too ... All of us have missed the mark; every one of us. How we missed it is different. But as it relates to our culture and civilization, again I make no apology that marriage is the proper relationship in which we create families."