Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee—an ex-Arkansas governor and former Southern Baptist pastor—said Monday he has a proven track record of bringing together diverse people of different backgrounds.
He also disputed the notion that a candidate, like himself, who believes in what he calls "traditional marriage" and opposes abortion cannot win the White House—pointing to the two terms of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush who shared similar views.
"I think people vote not so much horizontally—whether you're left or right, liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican ... [but] vertically. Do they believe you'll take the country up or down," Huckabee told CNBC's "Squawk Box" in an interview.
Making his case for being someone who can unite the electorate, he said, "Look at how I got 49 percent of the African-American vote in my state ... which historically had only elected three Republicans statewide before I got elected."
On the issue of free trade, Huckabee said he loves the idea of a free market, but he's wary about giving President Barack Obama the fast-track negotiating authority favored by GOP lawmakers and opposed by Democrats.
"I'm a capitalist with a capital 'C,'" he said, but he opposes the evolving Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement in part because of the secrecy surrounding the deal.
The former Arkansas governor said he doesn't know why Republicans want "to give this president who ... sort of defied his ability to make a deal on a secondhand Subaru much less major trade agreements."
On Friday, House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan appeared on "Squawk Box" ahead of key votes on Capitol Hill to advance the process for crafting the TPP. The effort, backed by the Wisconsin Republican and others in his party, failed.
Huckabee said Monday he's concerned about the impact on jobs. "A lot of American workers have taken a gut punch because [past] trade agreements have not been enforced on both sides of the deal. And we've allowed our partners to cheat."