December 19th, 2007
08:30 AM ET
3 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. demwit

    And why is one of Huckabee's ears white while the other is black?? @#$%racist..

    December 19, 2007 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  2. T. Tim, Lodi, WI

    ...liberals cannot tolerate Christianty and will do anything to remove all aspects of faith and religion from society." Sounds like classic victimization identity in psychology. This liberal labeling is indicative of what's wrong in the US: an us-vs.-them mentality.

    December 19, 2007 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  3. Agt. Smart

    YOU PEOPLE. The one's who are whining about having religion "slammed" down your throat. GIVE ME A BREAK. The 1st Amendment allows Christians and all people of faith to "express" their beliefs. IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT, TURN IT OFF OR DON'T LISTEN. If an islamic radical gets on TV and starts wishing everyone Happy Bombing then I will laugh and turn it off. The United States govt. has absolutely nothing to do with this ad. You have no right to condemn Huckabee's faith. The 1st Amendment says that the government will make no law establishing a religion. The second that the government makes a law establishing Christianity as the countries "official" religion I will contact the ACLU on your behalf. UNTIL THEN, SHUT UP and quit your whining.

    December 19, 2007 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  4. Kim, Midland (Nativity on Courthouse lawn) Michigan

    I don't attend the company Christmas parties (yeah – more than one) and I would be working on Christmas if I could. They lock me out of the building, same as they do on Good Friday.

    Why should anyone expect that I celebrate the birth of another religion's god? He's not my G-d, and celebrating false idols, isn't that one of those pesky commandments?

    It's such a commercial holiday now. Why don't the Christians attempt to wrestle their holiday back from the edge of extinction into the orgy of spending and eating that is has become.

    Take a look at your own house, before you attack non-Christians for just not wanting to have to bow down and celebrate someone else's religion.

    Is that so ho, ho, ho hard to understand?

    December 19, 2007 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  5. Andrew, Atlanta, GA

    KND said:

    KND – it IS possible, but Huckabee is evidence that it's not possible for HIM. Look at the ad, look at his past behaviors. He can't do it. He's a mistake.

    December 19, 2007 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  6. Andrew, Atlanta, GA

    D Scherer said <>

    D Scherer – Unfortunately, you and others have disorted things a lot. No one is saying you can't say Merry Christmas to Christians or that it's not OK to be Christian. You WANT to see it this way because it makes it easier to excuse your own bad behavior. Or you're just not that bright. You pick.

    December 19, 2007 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  7. Matt, New York, New York

    In response to some of my attackers out there:

    From Adam in Ohio
    "Your view, Matt, that that means I am not voting for him because he's a Christian makes you an idiot."

    You're still against him for talking about his Christian faith. It seems that is your main criticism of him, which is my point. Huckabee will use his experiences as governor and as a Church leader to guide his judgment.

    From Bukky in Baltimore
    "I dont want YOUR way of thinking forced down my throat or mandated into law."

    Huckabee is not going to force Christianity down anyone's throat, but he has every right to talk about religion. As president or VP he will be guided by his views same as you are guided by your liberal views. Both are equally valid, I just believe Christian and conservative values are best for the country.

    When you look at American values and laws they are deeply rooted in the Christian tradition. As far as I am concerned "my" way of thinking was mandated into law long ago.

    December 19, 2007 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  8. April

    Christ Mass, Christmas – Who cares? Huckabee's statement has nothing to do with denomination, but rather a history lesson on where the word "Christmas" came from. In the end, its Christmas! Its the same now as it was in centuries past. My first ammendment right gives me the freedom to say "Merry Christmas" just as it gives those the right to say something else. Why should Mr. Huckabee have to say "Happy Holidays" just so he won't run the risk of offending someone? Politicians lie enough these days without encouraging them to say what they don't believe just to please someone and get a vote.

    My purpose on this earth is to tell others about Jesus, just as it is their "choice" whether they "choose" to believe. In the end, its about choices. Why is it that we find the need to criticize others for that? Why? Maybe because we live in a society where everyone has to be right, and to hell with those who "choose" not to believe what you believe. The question is – how much faith do you have in your choice? I choose Jesus! I choose "Merry Christmas!" I choose my first ammendment right to say so. If I offended anyone with my comments, oh well ... I guess I'll just have to live with that. And, by the way, its a bookshelf! Get over it!

    December 19, 2007 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  9. Andre, Norfolk, VA.

    I tell you what...to all of you that are offended by CHRISTMAS. Don't enjoy the benefits that this national holiday brings. Don't exchange gifts...and GO TO WORK. Take Halloween off.

    December 19, 2007 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  10. Chris, Fayetteville AR.

    America is too PC. When we wish Merry Christmas, it's not inclusive. If we left Merry Christmas out of an ad, you wouldn't see a bunch of Christians posting on a message board. This country has turned into the "me" country. The country of "I", where everyone thinks their opinion is the most important. Here's an idea. Stop being offended by things not meant to offend. Stop looking for things to be pissed off about. Be happy, enjoy life. Go to work on "Christmas day" if you don't believe in Christmas, although everyone believes in a day off. I celebrate the birth of Jesus, not Dec. 25. Had it happened to fall on July 19, I would still celebrate it as a day of significance, not celebrating the day itself. Get a life people. Stop reading in to things. Enjoy yourselves, help others, be kind. These are universal truths. And deal with the fact that people in this country can say whatever they want, such as Merry Christmas....even if they are running for President. Welcome to America, home of the free, just not free speech if what they say disagrees with your opinion. Welcome to the country of "ME" and "I".

    December 19, 2007 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  11. Tom Soppe, Portland, OR

    So, Bill in Iowa, are you sure that my support for keeping Jesus out of government offends God? You sound pretty sure about that. You must have talked to him privately.

    If separation of church and state offends God so much, maybe God should finally read the constitution.

    Oh, and I suppose I'm just driving you to Huckabee and away from the Dems by saying this, right? As if it is constitutionalist non-Christians' fault that you are threatening to support Huckabee for shallow reasons.

    That sounds like the typical mainstream media argument- if Republicans win by out-Christianing the Dems, and Dems stay loyal to keeping the government nonsectarian like the founding fathers wanted it, it's the Dems fault for having principles, not the Republicans' fault for cynically manipulating theocratic feelings.

    Or maybe you are just threatening to support Huck instead of Hillary if we disagree with you in order to trick fellow Dems into not responding to your comment? Nice trick to try to get the last word. I'm not falling for it.

    December 19, 2007 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  12. Robert Miami, Fl.

    To all those outraged at Huckabee’s bookshelf cross, Christmas, other Christian Holidays & religious candidates showing respect for Christmas. Show your REAL convictions! Protest By Going To Work On Those Days & Shut Up! I don't want to offend anyone so, If Ya "Hate The Baby Jesus", Close Your Eyes NOW! Merry Christmas & a Very Prosperous Happy New Year To All of you!

    Ok, Open Your Eyes NOW! YOU, Have a Nasty, Terrible Holiday Season! May hordes of annoying people cascade thru your neighborhood while singing off key Christmas carols praising the baby Jesus & Joy to the world. I have become like all the adversaries of Christmas & America. I will hate your religion or your atheist beliefs by protesting & opposing EVERYTHING you believe in & want changed From Now On! God Bless America & the freedom of expression to do unto others what they’ve done unto you & your country!

    December 19, 2007 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  13. Christiana

    Ever heard of a wolf in sheeps clothing?? I would never try this bigot with some many past hateful attacks against minority groups. What a two faced bigot.

    December 19, 2007 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  14. Paula, Mobile, AL

    Hey Huck-a-don't, actually ... Christmas being on December 25 is no accident, it was the date of the Roman feast of Juvenalia, which Pope Julius I conveniently chose to celebrate Christ's birth on. So much for religious authenticity. So secular celebration couldn't be more in tune with this particular holiday.

    December 19, 2007 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  15. Jim St Louis MO

    Christmas has become a BIG ECONOMIC BOOM for America. Let me see, you celebrate GOD's SON's birthday and America propers. It's.......almost...... like........ GOD is pleased.

    December 19, 2007 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  16. Agt. Smart

    Patrick Henry:
    "Orator of the Revolution."
    • This is all the inheritance I can give my dear family. The religion of Christ can give them one which will make them rich indeed.”
    —The Last Will and Testament of Patrick Henry

    “It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” [May 1765 Speech to the House of Burgesses]

    “The Bible is worth all other books which have ever been printed.”

    December 19, 2007 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  17. Agt. Smart

    John Adams and John Hancock:
    We Recognize No Sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus! [April 18, 1775]

    John Adams:
    “ The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principals of Christianity… I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”
    • “[July 4th] ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”
    –John Adams in a letter written to Abigail on the day the Declaration was approved by Congress

    December 19, 2007 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  18. Agt. Smart

    Benjamin Franklin: | Portrait of Ben Franklin
    “ God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel” –Constitutional Convention of 1787 | original manuscript of this speech

    December 19, 2007 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  19. Agt. Smart

    Thomas Jefferson

    “The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend to all the happiness of man.”

    “Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern which have come under my observation, none appears to me so pure as that of Jesus.”

    "I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus." [Letter to Benjamin Rush April 21, 1803]

    “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.” [Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781]

    “It [the Bible] is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus."
    [Jan 9, 1816 Letter to Charles Thomson]

    December 19, 2007 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  20. Agt. Smart

    “What students would learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ.”
    –George Washington in a speech to the Delaware Indian Chiefs May 12, 1779

    December 19, 2007 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  21. Zombie, Chicago IL

    Zombie likes brains.
    Brainssssss.
    BRAINNSSSSSS.

    December 19, 2007 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  22. Agt. Smart

    4 Patrick Henry

    "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians, not on religion but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We shall not fight alone. God presides over the destinies of nations."

    December 19, 2007 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  23. Agt. Smart

    Fisher Ames

    (Author of the First Amendment)

    "Should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a schoolbook? Its morals are pure, its examples are captivating and noble....In no Book is there so good English, so pure and so elegant, and by teaching all the same they will speak alike, and the Bible will justly remain the standard of language as well as of faith."

    December 19, 2007 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  24. Agt. Smart

    Ben Franklin
    Congressional Congress, 1787

    "I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth–that God Governs the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?

    "We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that "except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it." I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.

    "I therefore beg leave to move–that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service."

    December 19, 2007 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  25. Catherine Saint Paul Mn

    We cant say Merry Christmas because some people feel left out?

    That makes me feel left out.

    If I have to listen to you about your "holiday" then please he me spout about MINE...

    Merry Catherine to all.. presents are now being accepted.

    December 19, 2007 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
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