Mike Huckabee: 'I don’t think that Donald Trump is a racist' -- he's just 'a plain-spoken guy'
Mike Huckabee at a book signing at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Mike Huckabee, the Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas governor, said Donald Trump was a welcome addition to the increasingly crowded GOP field.

“You know I’ve been very careful not to comment on the other candidates and I’ve been very honest in saying (that) Donald Trump doesn’t need my help getting wind underneath his wings or to get publicity,” Huckabee said during an appearance on the radio program “American Heartland with Dr. Grace.”

Huckabee told host Grace Vuoto – who founded the Edmund Burke Institute for American Renewal to promote conservative politics to minority voters – that Republicans should not attack one another during the lengthy primary season, reported Buzzfeed.

“It’s very difficult for me to understand why Republicans spend our time beating up on other Republicans,” Huckabee said. “Donald Trump has every much right to run as I do or anyone else. He will make his statements, he will stand by his statements, and he’ll defend them. I’d rather focus on my own plans, and that’s what I’m doing.”

Trump has lost several business partners and drawn criticism of varying intensity from some fellow Republicans for his claims that Mexican immigrants were racists and drug dealers, and he reportedly suggested that U.S. troops should have invaded its neighbor to the south.

Huckabee, however, told the radio host that the real estate tycoon and reality TV star had raised some important issues.

“I don’t think that Donald Trump is a racist, and I think that anybody who will say that has never been around him,” Huckabee said.

“He’s a plain-spoken guy, but I think that if you disagree with somebody, calling them a racist is sort of a way to end a legitimate and thoughtful discussion and that’s unfortunate,” the former governor continued. “Republicans have room in our party for Donald Trump and we should be welcome to hear his views, and if you disagree with him, well, we’ll disagree with him.”