May 18th, 2008
01:05 PM ET
6 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. JAMES

    I THINK THIS IS HAS JUST BEEN A FEW OF MANY ATTACKS AND COMMENTS ON BARRACK HUSEIN OBAMA TO COME. AND WITH OBAMA NOT REALLY BEING SEEN AS TO BE ABLE TO TAKE A PUNCK LIKE CLINTON CAN MOST OF THE LIBERAL MEDIA ARE TRYING AS MUCH AS THEY CAN TO PROTECT HIM AND DENOUNCE ATTACKS AS UNFAIR AND UNFOUNDED. WELL I THINK THAT THERE SHOULD BE STRONG ISSUES RAISED, AND NOT JUST ABOUT WHAT YOU WOULD DO TO IRAN OR TOPICS LIKE THAT BUT ABOUT YOUR PERSONEL CHARACTER. I THINK OBAMA SHOULD BE ASKED OVER AND OVER ABOUT HOW HE IS SO NIEVE THAT HE SAT IN THAT CHURCH AND LISTENED TO WRIGHT AND NEVER HAD A CLUE THAT HE HAD THOSE BELIFES. ESPECIALLY WHEN OPRAH WINFREY WAS ABLE TO SEE IT IN A MUCH SHORTER TIME AND LEFT THE CHURCH IN A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME CAMPAIRED TO OBAMA SETTING THERE FOR 20 YEARS APARRANTLY CATCHING UP ON SOME SLEEP OR EYEING ANOTHER MEMBER OF THE CONGREGATION ACROSS THE ISLE OR SOMETHING. AND HIS WIFE SHOULD ANSWER ABOUT HER COMMENTS AND FEELINGS TOO. I JUST DONT HINK OBAMA CAN STAND UP TO THE BATTLE AND HILLARY WILL BE A MUCH STRONGER CANIDATE FOR US IN NOVEMBER. NO ONE WILL HAVE THE MAGIC NUMBER OF DELEGATES BY THE END OF THE PRIMARIES. AND THE SUPER DELEGATES DONT GET COUNTED UNTIL THE CONVENTION, SO LETS SEE ABOUT MICHIGAN AND FLORIDA FIRST THEN GET DOWN TO THE SUPER DELEGATES.
    NOBAMA FOR ME THANK YOU!

    May 18, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  2. Kit

    I don't like guns, I'm not a fan of the NRA, but Huckabee just messed up a joke. Then of course he has to say that he can't remember... misspoke, whatever. This is really a non-issue because NRA people are the last people who would joke about aiming a gun at people, especially in front of cameras. His just wasn't quick enough to pull together a good joke.

    Thankfully, not that many people laughed at the second part. That would have been more disturbing.

    Obama and Hillary supporter

    May 18, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. sandra rutkowski

    Race has nothing to do with Obama. I would have to no second thoughts voting for a black man for office,but in this case I DO NOT TRUST Obama. If he spent 20 years under that doctrine then he agrees with it.

    May 18, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  4. Mel

    This isn't about Sen. Obama. When one improvises humor it is by nature revealing. Huckabee clearly has the unspeakable on his mind, if not in his dreams. I find it fascinating & deeply worrisome that a purportedly "Christian" man of the cloth has the unguarded reaction to use the threat of murder of our country's political figures as the kernal of a joke to advance his own political fortunes. This is another example of the cynical attack form of politics that many Americans find repugnant and seek to change before the country is irreparably lost to division.

    May 18, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  5. Joe

    Considering the audience, I think this joke can not be blown off so easy. Something about a bunch of white, gun owning, republicans joking about guns being aimed at a black presidential candidate doesn't and shouldn't sit well. It was an off the cuff comment, but why would his mind go there? I think, oddly enough, if someone in Obama's camp had made a similar joke about McCain the fall out would be greater.

    May 18, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  6. all american

    I think Huckabee just said a joke in bad taste. I don't beleive he ment any harm to anyone. And it should be left at that. The media does not have to make a big deal over everything said and done. There are more important issues the media has not paid attention to.with this election. Like Obama campaing in Kenya for his cousin Raila Odinga in August of 2006. o.k. hot shots why don't
    you investage that?

    May 18, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  7. Mikki Israel

    No actually Terry in Fl. you should be scared. It's obvious you are afraid of change!!!

    Oh gawd…lets's make him apologize to the sensitive little man from Illinois....Where is the truth in that, Obama should be scared..We should being saying, "Oh gawd to your little comment."

    I see no division from Sen. Obama...There is an awarenss, eye opening and realization of what has been going on in this country ...Racial and Social factors that need to be addressed and resolved..

    May 18, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  8. Monroe

    It was the worst possible thing to joke about. But it wasn't as bad as the comments from "Terry in FL" above. Disgusting.

    May 18, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  9. JM

    Well said B. Great leaders of previous generations have had their lives cut short in violence. This is nothing to joke about.

    May 18, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  10. Richard Richmond

    How ironic that the signs at the NRA meeting announced that "No Guns will be allowed in the Hall" and 14 metal detectors were brought in to protect the "Pro-gun" Republican politicians from their minions.

    May 18, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  11. Mmimi De La Cruz for OBAMA

    CNN PS.STOP MODERATING ME. TRUST ME I DID NOT SAY

    WHAT THIS SLEAZE EVEN DESERVES.

    YOU REPORTING ON THIS SICKO AGAIN FAR WORSE

    THAN WHAT I SAID.

    AND THIS IS SUPPOSE TO BE A MAN OF GOD?

    THIS MORON DESERVES NOTHING BUT CONTEMPT.

    May 18, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  12. Marian London

    I believe it was meant as a joke but it turned out to be a very expensive one that could put other thoughts into people's mind. It isn't that most people have not feared for his life but we all believe that it is a worthwhile sacrifice to make even though we don't wish that on anyone let alone a young family plus we believe he has the right protection that he ought to have, having seen what happened to JF Kennedy and Martin Luther the King.

    I just sometimes wonder why most of the bad decisions and jokes come from the Republican candidates. Is it because they have nothing substantial in terms of good policies to offer. Voters ought to think about that seriously this time around and consider that come November.

    May 18, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  13. Dee

    No, your just a lousy pastor.

    May 18, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  14. Go away Huckabee your true colors are scary

    Ever heard of a "Freudian slip" HMMM he can't remember saying it....
    Scary what Huckabee hides behind his smile. Get him off the airwaves....

    May 18, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  15. Dan

    Regardless of race, regardless of your opinion on gun-control laws, regardless of the history in this country, this joke was at best disgusting. Why would any honorable person even joke about pointing a gun at someone else, much less a co-worker? The NRA is supposed to be an advocate for RESPONSIBILITY with gun owership. To paraphrase Charlton Heston "There are no bad guns, only bad people." Maybe the NRA should think twice before renewing Mr. Mike Huckabee's membership.

    May 18, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  16. Mama Sue, Chicago, Illinois

    The fact that 1) that was the first thing that popped into his head 2) that he didn't remember saying it 3) that he thinks it is being blown out of proportion – scares me to death. He had the potential to be president (or vice-president) of this country doesn't even have any sense that this is offensive or why.

    May 18, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  17. Obama Supporter

    SHUT UP LOSER!

    WE ONLY LISTEN TO JERIMIAH WRIGHT!

    JOIN THE POWER!

    OBAMA '08

    May 18, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  18. Diane Boyd

    That was a lousy joke. I am surprised at Huckabee for making it. I thought he was a better man than that. Some of you on this blog are covertly making threats on Obama's life too. You need to watch what you say. Some of us can see through hidden messages.

    May 18, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  19. Jim

    To all those who say Obama needs to quit whinning about it. Obama and his people have never mentioned it.

    May 18, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  20. Not Ready For Prime Time

    I think maybe what made the noise was some part of Huckabee's artificial brain falling off the table where he left it backstage. If a newscaster or commentator had said this, he would be fired.

    May 18, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  21. Tom

    Pretty stupid, no question. Funnier if he said that it was Obama backstage who tripped over a chair after realizing where he was and was running for the door heading left.

    May 18, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  22. Tarr

    Terry in Fl. How much education do you have? You sound like a kid and I think you are racist.

    May 18, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  23. jj langdon

    it would seeem that it was a call for obama to get shot wow just to think it is a a slave master call

    May 18, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  24. Joe Reg

    Your words will come back to hunt you.

    Mcsame.

    May 18, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  25. JJT

    You know what guys that is sick stuff. Man on man are we getting it all wrong. No time to waste look around is the time near? Get our own house in order before we throw stones (including me). Boy I wonder how many of us will be Left Behind? We are focused on the wrong stuff like black/white/. The real issue is this $3.93 per gallon gas and $6.00 gallon milk shall I go on. So to make a long story short if all you people on here making comments don't have in the bank or make atleast over $2 million a year half of these canidates don't give a crap about you anyway. So vote on people vote on because we have the right. The real question will be if Clinton, Obama or McCain get in office will things change or stay as they are? Also, will they only change a few things when they first enter the Oval Office and turn coat? Who knows all this is like a trip to Vegas a crap shoot, gamble and like the stock market it's never what it seems or what you want to get out of it.

    May 18, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
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