Huckabee team defends 'madrassas' comment
March 3rd, 2011
04:16 PM ET
3 years ago

Huckabee team defends 'madrassas' comment

(CNN)–Mike Huckabee's political committee is defending comments the former Arkansas governor made Wednesday that referred to President Barack Obama as growing up around Muslim madrassas.

"People who read the Governor's full comments about the President in his new book will completely understand – but those who don't, probably won't hear the whole story," Hogan Gidley, Executive Director of HuckPAC, said today in a statement to CNN.

Gidley did not respond directly to the question of why Huckabee used the highly-charged term "madrassas". The term 'madrassa' traditionally refers to any Muslim school, but following the terrorism of September 11th news stories about madrassas radicalizing Islamic students cast the word in a negative light.

Wednesday, Huckabee told talk radio host Bryan Fischer: "I have said many times, publicly, that I do think he has a different world view, and I think it's in part molded out of a very different experience. Most of us grew up going to boy scout meetings, and you know, our communities were filled with rotary clubs, not madrassas."

Earlier in the week, Huckabee mistakenly said that Obama had grown up in Kenya. He told Fischer on his radio show that he had said Kenya when he meant Indonesia.

This isn't the first time that Obama has been connected to madrassas. In the early stages of Obama's presidential campaign in 2007, Insight Magazine cited an unnamed source that claimed "researchers connected to Senator Clinton" had found information that Obama was trained at a madrassa. Clinton's campaign denied the magazine's claims.

CNN later confirmed that the information was inaccurate, but the article was cited several times on Fox News and on Glenn Beck's television show, which then aired on CNN's sister network HLN.

At the time, a spokesman for Obama's campaign said airing the inaccurate madrassa claim was "appallingly irresponsible."

In 2007, CNN Senior International Correspondent John Vause visited the school Obama did attend in Jakarta. He described the Basuki school, where Obama went from 1969 to 1971, as "nothing like" a madrassa that espouses militant ideals.

"I came here to Barack Obama's elementary school in Jakarta looking for what some are calling an Islamic madrassa...like the ones that teach hate and violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan," Vause said. "I've been to those madrassas in Pakistan ... this school is nothing like that."

He also reported seeing teachers dressed in western-style clothing and children wearing school uniforms.


Filed under: Mike Huckabee • President Obama
soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. Roland - Illinois

    Huckabee – What an Idiot! Obama went to grade school for a couple years in Jakarta. It is unfortunate that the average American has the attention span of a knat and they bank on the Clowns at FOX to define their understanding of current events. Huckabee needs to settle down in Florida, continue to draw his fat salary from FOX and bow out of politics. The guy really has put on a few pounds and needs to get back to exercising. GOP ... motto ...........Don't Let The Facts Get in Way.... Don't they realize Obama taught Constitutional Law for 2 years at Univ. of Chicago? He knows a little bit about requirements for office.

    March 3, 2011 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  2. Bill

    Why do politicians such as Mr. Huckabee and Mr. Beck feel it is necessary to either outright lie or, in this case, spread untuths by innuendoes. Such a sad commentary on our political system.

    March 3, 2011 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  3. Marie MD

    Imagine that. People on the other side of the world dressed as westeners. I take it that this preacher of hate and lies doesn't get too much does he?
    He went to school overseas for two whole years. My oh my. I wonder what is the different between the President, as a child, living in a foreign country as, oh, I don't know, our ambassadors or servicemen (with children) or Americans with jobs overseas, or gosh, that mavericky (or not) of mccain who was actually born in Panama!!!

    March 3, 2011 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  4. blarkin

    Where in America is the last sane Republican candidate, a person who has real ideas to fix the country not just the same Tea Party birther nonsence

    March 3, 2011 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  5. buc

    Crackpot.
    Sometimes it is better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

    March 3, 2011 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  6. Marie MD

    I meant that the huckster doesn't get out too much. Does he have a passport. Ask what's her face . . . . that's the first thing she did to gain "international" experience besides seeing Russia from her backyard.

    March 3, 2011 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  7. oopru

    "In 2007, CNN Senior International Correspondent John Vause visited the school Obama did attend in Jakarta. ..."I came here to Barack Obama's elementary school in Jakarta looking for what some are calling an Islamic madrassa...like the ones that teach hate and violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan," Vause said. "I've been to those madrassas in Pakistan ... this school is nothing like that.""

    Ah, yes. He went there 30 years later to prove what the school was like when Obama was a child.

    Regardless of whether or not the school Obama went to was a "madrassa", trying to prove anything about any school three decades after the fact is a joke.

    March 3, 2011 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  8. nellie bly

    Face it, Huckabee and camp – you've been called on your lies. Now, be the decent Christians that you say you and are admit that you were not only wrong but lyng as well.

    March 3, 2011 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  9. XWngLady

    "Most of us grew up going to boy scout meetings, and you know, our communities were filled with rotary clubs, not madrassas."....Most of "us" who Huck? Because many people that I know and grew up with weren't privleged or affluent enough to be in rotary clubs or scouts....So I guess that we should berate all of our foreign service officers and church Missionaries and their children who grow up in other countries. That's what's wrong with so many Americans who have NEVER been outside of their rural town, suburb, state or country. You can't have an accurate or well-balanced WORLDview, if you know nothing about the world!

    March 3, 2011 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  10. Kwesoe

    Hey Mike, tell me some of those lies of yours to make me think of the truth!

    March 3, 2011 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  11. Marty, FL

    "Birther" [sic] Huckabee ought to be ashamed of himself, as a former preacher continues to bear false witness and lie against thy neighbor. How sad.

    March 3, 2011 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  12. usualone

    We need a President who has a grasp of how people outside the United States feel about issues and this President has had experience looking outside the country. It is a learning experience valuable to all, something Mr. Kuckabee doesn't grasp and tries to throw stones at. Every day Huckabee says more outlandish things than the day before. He either needs more education or he knows what he is doing by appealing to those who just don't like this President.

    March 3, 2011 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  13. B

    Yet another Pseudo Christian Republican that is so transparent.

    March 3, 2011 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  14. Inmyopinion

    Huckabee is right on the money. Any American that has lived in a foreign country will tell you that when a child is raised in a different country that from the one he/she was born that child's habits, thoughts, customs, schooling, routine are very different than the children that are raised in the country they are born. If anything Obama is a mix of Indonesian and Hawaiian customs, habits, beliefs and not traditional Americans on the mainland.
    Obama's mother was not bringing him back to live on the mainland of the U.S. but he was going to Hawaii which is in itself a different live style than the states as the Hawaiian native people have their own native customs, habits, traditions which made an impact on his upbringing.

    March 3, 2011 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Maybe we should investigate Huckabee's childhood and birthplace. He has been working to Fox, who is owned by a Foreign person, that seems bent on causing civil divisions in America with his one sided "news" station. Hmmm... Where were you born Mr. Huckabee? You are certainly acting in a very suspiciously for someone who claims to be a patriot.

    March 3, 2011 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  16. PalmReader

    "Why do politicians such as Mr. Huckabee and Mr. Beck feel it is necessary to either outright lie or, in this case, spread untuths by innuendoes. Such a sad commentary on our political system."

    It's all they've got . . . not to worry, though. In the eyes of their lord, all is forgiven. Dare I say, even encouraged - all for the good of their god and his army of zealots.

    March 3, 2011 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  17. Wink-wink

    It would be nice if Huckabee would be more apologetic about his mistake, so as not to be seen as giving a wink-wink to the birther loonies. Alas, that seems to be precisely what he's doing. As to the substance of his comment – yes, President Obama did have an unusal upbringing, spending part of his childhood in Indonesia. So therefore he doesn't have the narrow biased worldview that Huckabee thinks is so fantastic. IMO President Obama's life experience is all to the good. Like it or not, the American president is the leader of the free world – he/she should have as wide a knowledge of the world as possible in order to be able to look at problems from more than one point of view. All of life knowledge doesn't begin and end in Arkansas, or Texas, or the U.S.

    March 3, 2011 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  18. NC

    Huckabee does not appeal to everyone in the south. The Rotary and Boy Scouts doesn't apply to every American. It doesn't apply to women, low income people and the majority of Black Americans. Huckabee hates women, poor people and Black Americans. What a evil person Huckabee is. He is selling his soul and will never be President. It looks like Huckabee is the non American because he is not like the majority of us.

    March 3, 2011 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  19. ket

    o buy the book and than we will understand the GOP has no shame. very scary that these GOPers ran for president.

    March 3, 2011 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  20. Inmyopinion

    I think many of you are just jealous to think that Obama is different from you and he had the privilege to grow up in a foreign country, speaking a foreign language and that he does not fit the normal identity of an American man and that is why you all argue so much that he is American and try to make Obama into a white American man. What if a native Hawaiian were to ran for the presidency? How about a native Eskimo running for the presidency? Would you guys defend the Hawaiian, Eskimo as much as you do Obama? How about a native American Indian for the presidency?

    March 3, 2011 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  21. Zeflik

    WEll, Mr. Huckabee in the true spirit of the Republican Propagandenamt tries to appeal to the ignorant and frustrated. If only George Orwell were alive. He would have re-written the 9th Commandment in the true Republican spirit: Thy shall not be a false witness – except when you talk about your politiccal opponent.

    March 3, 2011 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  22. mfhpr

    Is there a single REP that can be trusted to tell the TRUTH? This is why I continue to ask what the value of religion is if people like this, a church pastor, minister, rev.???, can lie his way through life and claim to be a "good" christian. If people would wake up and realize the shallowness of these people we'd not have to worry about their influence.

    March 3, 2011 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  23. Joseph

    If you watch Huckabee on TV. He is very precise with his words and leaves no room for doubt. The man meant what he spoke. He is lying and therefore not fit to be president. Sorry Huckabee you lose your chance to bepresident in 2012 and thereafter. Fox is always attractive to work for.
    Joseph
    Port Moresby

    March 3, 2011 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  24. John

    "People who read the Governor's full comments about the President in his new book will completely understand – but those who don't, probably won't hear the whole story"

    So, basically ... He is arrogant, ignorant, or a liar.

    March 3, 2011 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  25. Un Be Lievable

    Look, in his original interview on Tuesday, Huckabee said that he KNOWS Obama "grew up in Kenya." He didn't say "I THINK" Obama grew up in Kenya. Big difference. Mike Huckabee LIED. Additionally, he specifically referenced Kenya's "Mau Mau Uprising" – said NOTHING about anything related to Indonesia. Hey "Huck": if you're going to say that YOU KNOW SOMETHING when you're in the public spotlight as a potential presidential candidate, you can't just open your mouth and say whatever comes to mind. Mike Huckabee is unfit for any future elected office. Period.

    March 3, 2011 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
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