ROCKWELL CITY, Iowa—Shaping his message around the economy and national security, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee spoke in small-town Iowa at the library and community center Thursday evening.

“Jobs are the single most important thing we have to get underway for people to see an economic recovery,” he said. “There’s nothing that we need more urgently than … to get people back to work.”

He believes the recent trade bill passed in Congress makes matters worse for American workers.

“I’m for free trade but I am not for an unbalanced trade,” said Huckabee. “We need the kind of trade that makes it possible for American families to prosper and reach up to the next rung of the ladder of the middle class.”

Huckabee thinks a fair tax system “would be transformational to the economy of the U.S.” because it would help in financing infrastructure and resolving illegal immigration.

While the economy and national security are top priorities, morality is the foundation of Huckabee’s campaign.

“We have a moral responsibility to make sure that the next generation of Americans has the same kind of terrific opportunity and the same level of security and freedom that most of us have grown up with only because somebody above us has passed it on to us.”

Huckabee wants to pass down this opportunity and freedom to his five grandchildren and future generations.

“I will respect life from conception,” Huckabee told reporters. Privacy does not “afford one the right to take a life.”

“American citizens should be protected by the government that they pay for,” said Huckabee. “I’m a strict constitutionalist.”

He would use “all the resources available” to protect American citizens. In the same way he would protect life at conception, Huckabee claims he would protect American citizens on the front lines of a war.

To keep the country out of war, the American military needs to be “overwhelmingly” well-trained, well-equipped, and large.

“Nobody on earth would be silly enough to challenge it to a fight,” said Huckabee.

He is “unapologetic” and “unbending” on his opposition to signing the Iranian deal, saying it is a dangerous deal.

“There is no way that we should ever agree to the terms of a deal that puts that much power and that much money into the hands of terrorists.”

He said these terrorists have threatened to kill every American for the past 36 years.

Huckabee questioned why America “would ever sit to the table with them” without preconditions. The first precondition being for the four Americans held hostage; they should be sent on the next airplane back to America, he said.

Huckabee added that these same terrorists have threatened to wipe Israel off the face of the map.

“Our strategic alliance with Israel is critical for the long term stability of not just the Middle East, but the world.”

“We don’t need to weaken this country, we need to strengthen it.”