May 18th, 2008
01:05 PM ET
7 years ago

Huckabee: 'Lousy joke' but 'pretty benign issue'

CNN

Watch Huckabee's joke at the NRA Convention Friday. (starting at 0:50).

(CNN) - Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, known for his razor-sharp humor on the campaign trail, has again found it can be a double-edge sword, as he spent a third day explaining his admittedly “awkward” quip about Senator Barack Obama.

Huckabee talked to reporters Saturday after addressing graduates at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia. Not surprisingly, the first question was about Friday’s joke at the NRA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, about the Democratic presidential front-runner. It came up again Sunday in his appearance on “Meet the Press”.

After a loud noise back stage during his speech Friday, Huckabee joked, “That was Barack Obama. He just tripped off a chair. He’s getting ready to speak and somebody aimed a gun at him, and he dove for the floor.” The audience, who laughed as he started the line, turned quiet.

In his news conference Saturday, Huckabee acknowledged the line was a mistake. “It was a simple thing of an incredible distraction that happened somewhere backstage”, he said, “I made a rather awkward attempt at a joke, wasn’t all that great. I’ve apologized for it. I didn’t mean to offend anybody. I didn’t even remember having said it. I honestly had to go back and look at the tape.”

The former Arkansas Governor said the controversy over the line has been blown out of proportion. He told reporters, “I think if people go back and look at the actual moment they’ll realize that it’s not nearly as much of a thing as some bloggers have attempted to make it to be. So all I would say is let people go back and look at what actually happened, and I think it’s a pretty benign interview.”

Huckabee drew big laughs often as a candidate for his lines in debates and on the stump, even making an appearance on “Saturday Night Live” that received great reviews. But other times, his humor could raise some eyebrows. CNN producer Evan Glass, who traveled with the candidate in Iowa, recalled Huckabee joking during a hunting photo where his group bagged three pheasants, “don’t get in my way. This is what happens.” (It should be noted the joke was prompted by a reporter’s prodding for a metaphor.)

soundoff (378 Responses)
  1. maynard

    No V.P. for you Huck after a statement like that.

    May 18, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  2. David Goldman for OBAMA

    I COULD NOT POSSIBLY DISAGREE MORE WITH THE BUSH

    ADMINISTRATION. HAVING SAID THAT, I WOULD PROTECT

    PRESIDENT BUSH WITH MY LAST BREATH, AS LONG AS HE IS

    THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

    HUCKALOSER IS JUST VILE. THE REPUBLICANS SHOULD

    COME OUT & SLAM HIM INTO THE MUD PIT HE BELONGS.

    May 18, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  3. Uncle Sam

    Although some seem unable to tell one Republican apart from another, the truth is that John McCain is no George Bush. Even John's critics admit that he has the heart of a lion. One imagines that there is nothing that he would not do for his country, no sacrifice he would be unwilling to make. The life of John McCain is a profile in courage.

    Americans for McCain '08

    May 18, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  4. Mo

    A wise man once said what you hide inside can be stolen by your mouth.

    May 18, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  5. David from Bremen

    HUCKBEE JUST SAID WHAT MANY LIKE HIM ARE THINKING AND HOPPING !!
    THEY ALL WANT OBAMA SHOT SHOULD HE BECOME THE DEM PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE !!
    THEY ARE DEVILS WHO PRETEND TO BE ANGELS !!
    REMEMBER THOSE CATHOLIC PRIESTS WHO MISUSED SMALL CHILDREN WHOM THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO PROTECT IN GOD'S NAME !!

    May 18, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  6. Yogi

    People better be careful. Because Obama is just anybody but an extraordinary and if anything happens to him, that will be the end of America. It is as simple as that. You can take the presidency, but don't go anywhere near his life cause it will be the end of America. End of America. America be very careful because it isn't just some Americans that like him but many people around the world see him as an extraordinary human being. America be very very very careful.

    May 18, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  7. carrie

    if anyone made a comment abt hillary or maccain,we would see it all over the news.
    racism still thrives in america
    shame

    May 18, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  8. Adam

    Susie–I'd like you to provide a specific example of Obama–not someone commenting on a website or one of this supporters–having misconstrued something the Clintons said as racist. And Obama never, ever said "small-town white folks who will not vote for me are gun-toting, Bible-thumping bigots." I understand Clinton supporters are angry because the Clinton coronation hasn't gone as planned, but Obama has played by the exact same rules as Clinton...and he's going to win (not steal) the nomination. If you want to vote for McCain because "your" candidate didn't win, then go ahead and vote for McCain. Is this supposed to be a scare tactic, by the way?

    May 18, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  9. LetsBhonest

    This was sickening! Huck should get TARRED and FEATHERED for making such a disgusting attempt at humor...

    NOT funny is an understatement!

    How LOW for a supposed 'man of faith' – God help us!!!

    May 18, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  10. Cathy

    Correct, awful joke. Tasteless and over the line. I think this will stick with him.

    May 18, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  11. Gobo

    Anyone rember that Mitt Romney once, in one of the rep debates, said to Huck-a-bee something like "you talk faster than you think."

    May 18, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  12. Black guy from NY

    With rivals like these Obama doesn't need allies. First Huckabee makes racist incendiary statements about a prominent black leader while trying to promote the Republican party, then he offers to be McCain's running mate.

    He has just simultaneously shot his and everyone elses foot in the Republican party, while Obama just sits back and brushes his shoulders off, and this is before the national election even kicks off. God Bless You Sir. Someone from the Dems side needs to give this man a pay raise.

    Obama 08'

    May 18, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  13. Concerned From PA

    I don't want to say anything out of step here, but buried in the middle of all this is an irony. After seeing on 60 minutes how Christian ministers, and followers would openly practice Christianity without harm in Iraq for the past 2000 years, and now that they have been invaded, Christian ministers and their followers are open game for target practice by those who hate. They can no longer practice their fath without fear of reprisal.
    I am sure if someone invaded this country, I would be willing to protect it, and hate whatever the invaders represented.
    Why now are some among us trying to instill that same hate right in this country. Maybe with tactics like that, anarchy and chaos can reign supreme over here as well.
    In the words of the song by Marvin Gaye, I heard often as a teen growning up during the Vietnam era, "Brother, brother we don't need to escalate. War is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate. We've got to find a way to bring back lovin here today"
    Let's stop fighting over this joke. Protect the President. Don't let, probably the last chance this country has for resurrection from the ashes go to waste. Remember when Russia went bankrupt? Osama Bin Laden in one of his tapes openly said, "We will defeat you the same way we defeated Russia, we will bankrupt you". Balance the budget, work smart, make friends not enemies before our national debt engulfs us. We are over 9 trillion in debt, probably over 10 trillion by the time the new administration comes in. If interest rates go to 10%, that is a trillion a year in interest alone. What do we take in in taxes per year, 1.9 or 2.9 trillion. How will we ever bail out, when balancing the budget is so hard. The best we ever did was when the budget was balanced, due to Robert Rubin, Clintons treasury secretary, who said, "That if we balance the budget, that will cause the value of the dollar to go up, and that will have a ripple effect, and everything wiil boom. Boy did it work. We even had a 260 billion dollar surplus. (Which is still only 1.4 of a trillion) So if we do that well, next year we are only another 3/4 of a trillion in debt. Our dollar right now is only worth 1/3 of what is was before. When our dollar becomes worth more, we get more oil per dollar. It is that simple. Let's work together. Hatred is the enemy. Those who campaign on it are enemies of this country, not the healers of it. If we don't learn to work together, get rid of corruption, greed, and hatred in all its forms, we don't stand a chance. Let's work together. Abraham Lincoln said it best, "The best way to conquer an enemy is make him a friend".

    May 18, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  14. GERIATRIC

    LET'S FACE IT, THAT NRA CONVENTION, WAS NOTHING MORE THAN A SANCTIONED KKK RALLY, AND I APOLAGIZE TO ANY GENUINE GUN ENTHUSIAST THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN PRESENT. YOU GET KARL ROVE, HUCKABEE, McCAIN, ROMNEY AS SPEAKERS, THE ONLY THING MISSING WAS A TREE AND A ROPE.

    May 18, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  15. Rennie Petersen

    Hillary blew it.

    She could have taken this "joke" and turned it into a rallying point for the Democrats. She could have stood on a stage and said, "Enough is enough. Mike Huckabee has now given me the reason I need to abandon my campaign, and dedicate all of my energy for the next 6 months to ensuring that Barack Obama will be our next president. I hope you all understand the gravity of this "joke", and that you are all with me in my new mission!"

    She would have gone down in history as a legend.

    Now she'll only be remembered for the Energizer Bunny cartoons.

    May 18, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  16. Jason

    It's sad but this is actually what he has been thinking for so long in his mind. How can this Black man, Barack, be better than me?

    May 18, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  17. HaveItYourWay

    It's probable that Huckabee merely wanted to make a joke in front of his gun loving audience... While it was not funny in the first place, out of context, away from the NRA speech .... it sounds plainly unacceptable.

    May 18, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  18. kcmadoobe

    This guy should be ashamed of himself, what a stupid joke, and the last thing we need is to"joke" about pointing gun at onother Black man............America This aint the back in days...can we all get alone !!!!

    May 18, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  19. James

    I'm really getting tired of those folks who claim to want change, but then decide not to vote if their candidate doesn't win the nomination. It reminds me of a child taking his/her football and going home just because he/she don't like the way the game is going.

    May 18, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  20. jase republican from MO

    I hope this story gets picked up and blasted all over tv. This way if it happens he can be arrested for conspiracy. He should be ashamed as a republican I am ashamed. Its things like this that made my decision to vote for Obama, its time for a change. The whole world wants Obama to win, hopefully that will begin racial healing in this country and we can see each others as AMERICANS not african/black whatever Americans, asian americans, latin/hispanic/ whatever Americans etc and we can be one country as it was intended and is written in our constitution.

    May 18, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  21. Brian

    hahhahah did you hear the one he said about NYC being nuked by terrorist that was a blast!

    Isn't Bush an idiot enough for this century?

    May 18, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  22. De Long Wa.

    I believe the question should be: Who is Senator John McCain selecting, and does the media know who is on his short list? Media seems to know more than they should at times, so why not now? McCain should have selected someone by this time, he or she could also help him in his challenge for the whitehouse as Obama is doing. Huckabee should be on his short list, he was determined to stay in the race even through Iowa. Like all candidates, he has his good and bad points. Hey Obama and Clinton are not the perfect choice either, I guess we just have to pick from popular american vote for President, like it or not.

    May 18, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  23. Lila

    The worse part of it is that he didn't remeber saying it! This moron is not qualified to be a VP. Period.

    May 18, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  24. Carolyn C

    Didn't mean to offend anyone? This was not only offensive, but dangerous. It wasn't deroagatory, it was laughing about possible violince. Huckabee...even your "apology" misses the mark!

    May 18, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  25. old time democrat

    I am saddened that this "man of God?" could be concidered for being a heartbeat away from taking the country back into "the dark ages"

    May 18, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
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