December 19th, 2007
08:30 AM ET
4 years ago

Huckabee denies subliminal Christmas message

Is the bookshelf behind Huckabee in his Christmas ad a subliminal message?

(CNN) - Republican Mike Huckabee poked fun at critics who said a bookshelf in his new Christmas-themed ad that appeared to highlight the shape of a cross was meant to send a subliminal message.

“Actually I will confess this, if you play this spot backwards it says ‘Paul is Dead, Paul is Dead, Paul is Dead,’” the presidential candidate joked to reporters in Houston Tuesday. “So the next thing you know, someone will be playing it backwards to find out the subliminal messages that are really there.” (Watch Huckabee's comments)

The ad is intended for the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

The former Arkansas governor said the spot was last-minute and ad-libbed: “They had a bookshelf behind me, a bookshelf. So now I have these people saying, ‘ahhh there was a subtle message there,’” said Huckabee. “….I never cease to be amazed at the manner in which people will try to dissect the simplest messages, can't even say ‘Merry Christmas’ anymore without somebody getting all upset about it.”

The former Baptist minister also shot back at some who said the spot should have been more inclusive, and that he should have wished voters “Happy Holidays.”

“I don’t know what else to call Christmas, last time I checked that is what we celebrate. If somebody can give me a way to get around that and do it honestly, then perhaps that’s what Christmas is,” said Huckabee.

“The very word Christmas comes from the contraction of 'Christ Mass' - the worship of Christ – again, change the word if we don't want to talk about it, but that’s what it symbolizes and represents.”

–CNN’s Rebecca Sinderbrand and Steve Brusk


Filed under: Mike Huckabee
soundoff (505 Responses)
  1. Leda Milazzo, Norwalk CT

    Mr. Huckabee is wrong if he thinks the American public is so naive as to think that every aspect of a political ad isn't scrutinized before it is put out to the public. It was misguided of him to do it in the first place and now it is down right insulting of him to assume that he can pretend the whole the was just coincidental .

    December 19, 2007 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  2. Ron,Lyles,TN

    Good for Mike Huckabee! Better watch out, Mike, like Lennon said " Christ you know it a'nt easy, you know how hard it can be. The way things are going, they're going to crucify me". Merry Christmas

    December 19, 2007 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  3. Mark R. Fort Lauderdale FL

    I think this is probably just a message from Jesus, letting us know which candidate he picks.....hahahahahahahahaha!!!You're a crafty man, Mike Huckabee. I agree with Jeff- well played.

    December 19, 2007 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  4. JB Boston MA

    Who cares! If it was a cross, which it isn't, CROSSES GO WITH CHRIST MAS.

    People, Christ Mas is a religious holiday.

    Christianity, and white males. The only two things you can openly discriminate against!!

    December 19, 2007 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  5. Keep the Faith, Lexington, Ky

    AMEN! It's about time a Politician said what is really important. He is talking about a Christian based message, that HE is celebrating Christmas NOT Happy Holidays as most of sales stores are trying to sell people. I for one am glad someone has the guts to tell it like it is. This Great country was based on the Christian faith, but with a few minorities, the Goverment is trying to cater to these people by Taking OUR religion away from US! They are removing GOD from our schools, and Court houses and all Official buildings, so It's about time a Politician said what he is really feeling. Thanks Mike!! I will pray for you!!

    December 19, 2007 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  6. Rudy, Gahanna, OH

    Everyone from Rapper's to Aunt Alice wear a Cross pendant around their neck ... and it's all good.

    Yet, when we see a horizontal and vertical board intersect on a bookcase, we feel guilty!

    Whether you are Democrate, or Republican, removing the cross does not remove the reason behind the cross.

    Merry Christmas ... oh, and do have a Happy Holiday also. :)

    December 19, 2007 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  7. Bob Herman, Lomira, WI

    Glad he said it. Christmas is about the birth of Christ. If you don't like it get over it.

    December 19, 2007 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  8. Jeff Hoffman, Stafford, Viirginia

    I think Mr. Huckabee is saying some of the things alot of the majority would like to say but can't because we do not want to offend anybody and therefore be accused of being a racist or insensitive when we just want to celebrate one of our most cherished holidays. I also think he will be getting my vote for President of the United States of America. Merry Christmas to all!

    December 19, 2007 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  9. Charlotte, NC

    This is all blown out or proportion, and is a little sad that some people are so "out for Huck" that they will go to any length to attack him. It is a bookshelf and nothing more. Is it because of the latest polls or the fact that he has spent so much less money than the other's and is still at the top that you are upset? I do not remember the negative stuff when he wasn't ahead. Must be.
    The thing I like about Mike is that he has convictions about life and his faith.
    Go Mike!

    December 19, 2007 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  10. Timmy, New York, N.Y.

    That ain't no ad for Oak Express.

    The image looks like that of a Sunday morning televangelist.

    Mike's reputation for truthiness just went in the toilet.

    Right next to Rudy's.

    Abandon all hope, ye who enter there.

    December 19, 2007 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  11. Carla, Tonawanda NY, 14150

    While the royal use of the word 'we' was not appropriate, it is in fact Christmas that is celebrated on December 25th. If people want to celebrate the winter solstice or any other holiday at that time go for it. However, as I've read in other comments people do not get the day off from work and/or school for the winter solstice, only for the celebration of Christmas. So if I want to say to someone "Merry Christmas" that should be my right. As it is the right of anyone else to say "Merry (insert holiday)".

    Again, Christmas is what this particular holiday is about. Christians celebrate the birth of our Lord, we should not be discriminated against just because we're Christians. Just as I believe that no other faith tradition should be discriminated against.

    BTW: I consider myself a liberal and will vote democrate so this is not in support of Mr Huckabee's political stance, just in his right to say "Merry Christmas".

    December 19, 2007 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  12. cuccio

    If people don't agree with the use of the word Christmas, why do they participate in the festivities? What exactly are they celebrating? They shouldn't have days off from work(with pay), shouldn't gather for Christmas meals with family, shouldn't exchange gifts. It should be just another day for these people who become hypocrites for complaining about Christ.

    December 19, 2007 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  13. Petra, Alexandria, VA

    I am sick and tired of all the religious comments and topics brought up in this election. I am wondering now is this a presidential election or a papal conclave? Since when is religion the main issue to talk about. First it is Huckabee’s claims that he is the real christian and the rest of the candidates are not as much of a devout christian as himself, next it is Romney's speech about his faith, and in between all they are discussing is their religious beliefs! Who cares about their biblical inerrancy beliefs or mormon faith? This is a secular country where religion should not be part of public discussion let alone of a presidential campaign. Don't they have anything else to talk about but crosses, christ, bibles, scripture and personal religious beliefs?

    December 19, 2007 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  14. RB, from the bay state

    Another non-story...........

    Merry Christmas and happy New Year.

    December 19, 2007 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  15. Ian, Boca Raton, Florida

    When are people going to wake up and realize that this guy is plain dangerous. If he gets the job (which I doubt he will, but you never know), we might as well issue our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan white overcoats with the knight's templar insignia and declare this the third holy crusade.

    All hail the flying spaghetti monster.

    December 19, 2007 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  16. Axel, Piscataway, N.J.

    The art of plausible denial is as lost today as the mysteries of windsor knots and one-handed bra removal were back in the '60s.

    December 19, 2007 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  17. Tom Tescher, Pendleton, Indiana

    In an age where every nuiance of an ad is scrutinzed, it's not believable that the effect of the bookshelf lighting in this ad was there intentionally. This candidate is running on his faith pandering to the religious right and other Christian sects. A cross behind him as he discusses Christmas, there by accident, come on we all didn't fall off a turnup truck in Arkansas, some of us have the ability to use critical thinking processes, duh, 1+1=2.

    December 19, 2007 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  18. jw. canadian,ok

    You people are giving Huckabee far too much credit, the dude about half as sharp as Bush, who is brain dead.

    December 19, 2007 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  19. Darin, Atlanta Georgia

    Planned or not, it worked out that a symbol of a cross appeared in the ad. This is Christmas and we are celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior who died for us ON A CROSS. My gripe is that he just should have said, "yea,the bookshelf happened to form the shape of a cross when we taped it. I did not see any harm in keeping it in." But like a professional politician, he had to try and blow smoke up my kooloo by acting like they had not even realised the cross was there. You get a refrigerator magnet for the effort Mike, but not my vote.

    December 19, 2007 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  20. Jeff, Bridgeport, WV

    A subliminal cross, really? Come on people it's a freakin' bookshelf whoever thought it was a subliminal cross is really grasping at straws here. How scared of Huckabee do you have to be to pull this one?

    I do take issue with his explaination of "I don’t know what else to call Christmas, last time I checked that is what we celebrate." If you want to wish folks a Merry Christmas I have no problem with that but don't try to say that it's what "we" celebrate, I know I don't celebrate it so don't lump me in there. If you wanted to say that it's what YOU celebrate then that would have been fine.

    This whole PC "everyone must say 'Happy Holidays' rather than 'Merry Christmas'" is just as insane as the claim that there is a war on Christmas everytime someone says 'Happy Holidays'. Newsflash everyone there are multiple Holidays going on this time of year, recently Thanksgiving and Hanukah and next week is Christmas and Kwanzaa followed by New Years. So there are multiple Holidays what is wrong with someone covering all of their bases when talking with someone in public, it's not like you can tell what Holidays a particular person celebrates simply by looking at them.

    That being said I still take no offense if someone wishes me a Merry Christmas even though I don't celebrate it, I simply nod my head and say "You too."

    December 19, 2007 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  21. Andrew, Long Island, NY

    No. It's not subliminal. It's very carefully planned and filmed.

    We're in big trouble, people.

    December 19, 2007 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  22. Lilarose, So. Oregon

    Unfortunately the news about the Dem's capitulation to Bush over Iraq funding yesterday is not headline news for this blog site.

    As soon as the elections office is open in my So. Oregon county, I am changing my voter's registration to Independent. This means I can't vote my heart in Oregon's primary election because Independents are not allowed to vote for anyone of any party in the primaries (seems illegal to me). But I just don't want to wait until May to switch.

    I am beyond ashamed of my Dem party that I have been a member of since 1960. Cowards all. Do you have grandkids? They will probably be fighting in Iraq someday.

    December 19, 2007 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  23. Rowan Fox, DeLand, FL

    How difficult would it have been to say "Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all?"

    By saying this is what "we" celebrate, he is saying "these people are with me and the rest of you don't count."

    Bad move. I am a Pagan... and I vote... and you don't get mine, Mr. Huckabee.

    December 19, 2007 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  24. Surrealist, Fort Myers, FL

    What the heck is wrong with a candidate sending out a Christmas video? Look, this guy isn't try to reach out to all Americans necessarilly–so don't be upset when he leaves those others out. The point here is this: HE IS CHOOSING THIS MANNER TO COMMUNICATE TO THE CONSTITUENTS–EVALUATE FOR YOURSELVES AS TO HIS "INTENTIONS" AND "JUDGEMENT". For my 2 cents, I'm voting with my feet and RUNNING to the John Edwards booth!

    December 19, 2007 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  25. Ed, Philadelphia, PA

    While I don't think the bookshelf thing was intentional, Huckabee's comments are downright scary. He apparently believes that all Americans do (or should) worship Christ. It is this kind of closed-mindedness that leads to intolerence and persecution. While I'm not ready to compare him to Adolf Hitler, these comments certainly seem in-line wiith his ideology and should serve as a wake-up call.

    I urge my fellow Americans to steer clear of this candidate- he is not what we need to recover from the Bush era.

    December 19, 2007 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
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