WASHINGTON -- Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee warned if the Republican Party ignores social issues in the upcoming national elections, then evangelical voters will simply stay home.
The evangelical vote in America has been a key ingredient in deciding who becomes the Republican nominee for president. Polling bears that out.
Yet the social issues near and dear to the hearts of evangelicals are under attack within Republican circles.
A few years ago, former Gov. Mitch Daniels, R-Ind., wanted to declare a truce on the hot button social issues.
"All I was saying was we are going to need to unify all kinds of people. Freedom is going to need every friend it can get," he argued.
That's the line by some within the GOP who say that the only way the party can get more votes and win elections is by staying away from controversial social issues like abortion and gay marriage.
But Huckabee, who's considering running for president in 2016, told CBN News that ditching these issues may cost the GOP evangelical votes.
"It leaves them at home. They just don't go vote, which they didn't do very strongly in 2012. There were fewer evangelical voters who voted for Romney than McCain. If 10 percent more evangelicals had voted for Romney, Romney would be president right now," Huckabee said.
Nevertheless, many in the Republican Party appear intent on phasing out social issues.
Just this past week, the Nevada Republican Party stripped out all language pertaining to abortion and marriage.
And after President Barack Obama won re-election in 2012, a Republican National Committee document concluded the following: "When it comes to social issues, the party must in fact and deed be inclusive and welcoming."
But Huckabee suggested the GOP might want to rethink that strategy.
"This notion of 'don't mention those issues because you might offend the voters who are leaning left,' you better worry about who are you going to leave at home, cool off, and completely chill out the voters who just will say, 'Well, I really don't have anyone to carry the issues that matter for me,'" Huckabee warned.
Huckabee insists that social conservative candidates will need to stand firmly for their values and convince the party that issues like marriage and abortion are an important part of the total equation.
"I think it's a mistake to think that younger voters are going to make their entire election decisions on a candidate's position on same-sex marriage," Huckabee predicted.
"If a candidate can articulate the reason he's for traditional biblical marriage is because of his biblical viewpoint, then will they hold that against them anymore than they would hold it against a Muslim who won't eat pork or drink liquor? If they do, then the problem is bigger than what the position is; it's why they hold the position," he added.