December 19th, 2007
08:30 AM ET
11 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. Villiers, Cape Town, South Africa

    Who ever decided to make a story out of this, has too much time on their hands. This is not news.

    December 19, 2007 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  2. john, Bryan Texas

    Why do so many people get offended when you mention Jesus, but yet no one gets offended or says anything when Islam, Jews, or anyone else says anything. Wasn't America, founded because people were fleeing religious persecution. Come on America,Christians can say things too.
    I pray in Jesus name that all of you have a blessed Christmas and may God Bless Mike Huckabee because he believes in JESUS CHRIST.
    get over it liberals, just get over it.

    December 19, 2007 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  3. anonymous

    Didn't one of the democrats mention he believed in Jesus the other day.
    Why wasn't there an outcry over that.
    Americans should be able to believe in Who they want and not be afraid of what someones going to think about it.

    December 19, 2007 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  4. anonymous

    The next thing you know, bookshelves won't be allowed in any political ads.

    December 19, 2007 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  5. Eric, Tucson AZ

    Nothing appears in an ad like this by mistake. Every last detail is planned for, checked on, re-checked, and finalized. The real insult here isn't the cross - Gov. Huckabee is free to worship whomever, whatever, and however he wants. He is also free to share his religious beliefs with anyone that is willing to listen. The real insult is that he believes Americans are naieve enough to believe that a tv spot in a hotly contested primary in a key early state would ever be "last minute and ad-libbed." That's just laughable, and if he thinks you'll buy that, what else will he try to sell you?

    December 19, 2007 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  6. Amy, Knoxville TN

    Does anyone else get the feeling that this is a completely manufactured, hyped-up publicity stunt designed to garner publicity and whip the right wing into a complete frenzy?

    Christians, take a memo: THERE IS NOT A WAR ON CHRISTMAS! No one wants to do away with Christmas. No one wants to take your Christmas from you. We'd just like it if you kept it within the religious sphere of society, not in the government sphere of society. We are tired of your war on secularism. Thomas Jefferson wasn't kidding when he said there should be a 'wall of separation' between church and state. I don't think the Founding Fathers could have been any more specific than that. It’s not that liberals are intolerant of your religion, it’s that we’re intolerant of you forcing it upon us by means of the government.
    Also, for those of you who just keep going on about the majority, please keep in mind that in a Madisonian model (you know Madison, he’s the father of the Constitution),
    the system is set up to prevent a tyranny of the majority. When we ignore this basic tenet of our Constitution, we are undermining all that it means to be American. Here’s the minority rights scenario I give my US Government 101 students: pretend you (a Christian) have been arrested in a Muslim country. You are taken to a courtroom in which there are quotes from the Koran inscribed on the walls and you are being tried by a religious cleric. Would you feel that you are getting a fair trial? Now put the shoe on the other foot – if you were Muslim & walked into an American courtroom in which the 10 Commandments were posted, would you think you were going to get a fair trial?
    The long and the short is this: the rights of the majority do not supersede the rights of the minority.

    December 19, 2007 02:12 am at 2:12 am |
  7. Pawpower, South Carolina

    Christmas to me is time to celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ. To others it may mean something else. We have become to PC in this world. If you dont' celebrate something, then the message is not for you. I tell everyone Merry Christmas, not to offend anyone, but to just wish them a Merry Christmas. Just be happy! Oh and I want World Peace too!

    December 19, 2007 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  8. Rob Martin Raleigh, NC

    Way to go, Mike! Finally! Someone willing to stand up to the Politically-corret left and tell it like it is! Y'know, there is nothing wrong with celebrating our differences. Isn't it the liberals that say we should "embrace our diversity"? Oh wait! That doesn't go for Christians and conservatives! Sorry about that. Keep doing what you are doing. It's making you stand apart from the field in different, positive way. At a time when America's collective self-esteem is at an all-time low, this nation needs someone who will stand up and and now be afraid or ashamed of who they are or where they come from.

    December 19, 2007 02:48 am at 2:48 am |
  9. Kevin, Newport Beach, CA

    This is absolutely the most ridiculous thing I have heard all year.

    December 19, 2007 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
  10. Ron, Az

    Why do people even argue about religion? I think that anybody that argues over a religion or fights over a religion is so unsure of thier faith that they figure by fighting over it makes them feel religious and closer to God. There is no such thing as a religion, man created religion and then started wars to try and force other races to submit to a certain religion. Everyone just needs to get a life, live and let live. Stop trying to make me believe like you do!!!

    December 19, 2007 03:07 am at 3:07 am |
  11. Barry, Hollywood, CA

    No professional director, photographer/videographer, or editor would see this composition – with decorative tree and luminous 'cross shape' elements – as anything less than suggestive of a Christian-bent message.

    Does that matter? Did Huck call for this specifically?

    I dunno or care, but any 'pro' producing this spot for him can't say that they 'missed' it.

    This is news?? Why did I take the time to respond?

    December 19, 2007 03:08 am at 3:08 am |
  12. Trang, Fremont, CA

    Why are people getting all upset over this? Isn't that what most 'Christmas' cards say – 'Merry Christmas and Happy New Year'. I guess some people wants to make peace and some just want to pick a fight. There's nothing wrong with what he said. Thank you Huckabee for explain what that word means. I didn't know the origin of that word. Interesting.

    December 19, 2007 03:37 am at 3:37 am |
  13. Ethan, Carrboro, NC

    Who are these unnamed critics and what is their criticism? Do they really exist or are they just figments of Huckabee's imagination? There's no way to tell, because this story doesn't say.

    December 19, 2007 03:39 am at 3:39 am |
  14. Mark-Australia

    "If they don't believe in Christmas they need not have parties and take this time off of work."

    some of us are celebrating the pagan festivals..

    as are christians they just dont know it...

    December 19, 2007 03:46 am at 3:46 am |
  15. Jordan Selvidge, San Diego, Ca

    Huckabee is a joke. He is a con artist like no one else. The cross was accidental and his son was doing a humane thing by putting the dog down, by hanging it from a tree. Wow. Who in their right mind would vote for this guy. He has overplayed his hand and is done for it.

    December 19, 2007 03:46 am at 3:46 am |
  16. Proud Catholic USA

    I am Catholic and I don't beleive in all these megachurces that call themselves christians, they are far from it. I respect those that celebrate Christmas as I do as well as all other religions and what they celebrate isn't that what America is about. I believe its the so called christians that create this false religion to hide their hatred for everyone who doesn't agree with them, kind of like the way the fundementals muslims are doing.

    December 19, 2007 03:47 am at 3:47 am |
  17. Justin Mckay Washington

    Critics say "Huckabee's a hack." Rolling Stone calls him a "muppet" Two thumbs down for this neo-con nutjob.

    December 19, 2007 03:59 am at 3:59 am |
  18. Amy, San Diego, CA

    Nice free advertising for Huckabee! Since everybody's talking about this earthshattering controversy, it's the most blogged video according to Google. Which means – when anyone goes to Google video search the commercial automatically starts playing. And Mike H. doesn't even have to pay for it.

    Exciting new approach to viral marketing. Do you suppose the Huckabee campaign planned the whole cross controversy just to get lots of views? Should there be regulation of campaign online commercials, as there is of television ads?

    For now, it's just mighty strange to go to Google video search and have Mike Huckabee wish me a Merry Christmas...

    December 19, 2007 04:05 am at 4:05 am |
  19. Dee, Northwest Arkansas

    Huckabee is not running for President of the Christians.

    He is running for President of the United States. While the United States may be primarily Christian, it is not exclusively Christian. I'm looking for a President who is concerned with all Americans.

    And, to Patti from Brookhaven, MS, for the last several decades I have volunteered to work Christmas, as well as Easter, so that those who celebrate these holidays may have the time off to be with their families.

    I have also been known to cover for co-workers celebrating Kwanza, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Hanukkah, MLK day and Cinco de Mayo.

    Christmas was not a holiday in the early history of the United States and was actually illegal in Boston from 1659 to 1681.

    Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under America's new constitution.

    Christmas was not declared a federal holiday in the United States until 1870. Not so very long ago, actually.

    Many of the traditions now associated with Christmas such as holly, ivy, mistletoe, trees, feasting, yule logs and the giving of gifts date back to pre-Christian times when the solstice and the return of the sun were celebrated in December.

    While many celebrate Christmas, many others celebrate different holidays in December.

    To wish someone "Happy Holidays" is not a curse but a statement that you hope the other person's celebration will be happy for whatever and however they celebrate.

    The wish of Happy Holidays includes everyone. Even those who seek to exclude others.

    Happy holidays to one and all!

    December 19, 2007 04:40 am at 4:40 am |
  20. Tom Partin FT Worth TX

    What cross? All I see is a shelving unit and Christmas regalia.
    Now get on to something important like the public schools accommodating the Muslims, Arabs or whom ever, with a foot wash on public school property.
    That is unconstitutional and not subliminal!
    Don’t Mess with Texas or the Christian USA
    MERRY CHRISTMAS, tis the reason for the Season and none other.

    December 19, 2007 04:42 am at 4:42 am |
  21. Catherine Saint Paul Mn

    Good Golly its Chrsitmas on my Calender. I get Christmas Day off at work and paid for it. EVEN IF I DONT CELEBRATE IT.


    Any you know what.. I am offended that your are offended that I wished you ALL a Merry Chirstmas.

    Remember when it was about Santa and good tidings and turkey dinner and Presents, lots of presents. The pretty tree, family, bad eggnog and yucky dry fruitcake, scary sweaters....

    Cant we all just be....
    Im not Chirstian.. Hindu or Alien. Im me and I celebrate Christmas and I am proud of it!!! Give me presents or give me death!!

    December 19, 2007 04:56 am at 4:56 am |
  22. dk

    "Paul is Dead..."? What does that mean? The man is strange to say the least. He better watch what he says or the Ron Paul supportes will be flying that blimp his way.

    December 19, 2007 05:13 am at 5:13 am |
  23. Maryia Hacker, Newark, DE

    OH for pity sake;give me a break, how ridiculous. Enough with the mud-slinging;get back to the real topics that are important,like border security & illegal immigrants taking US citizens' jobs,child health insurance, education,and senior-citizen prescription assistance.
    Leave Religion OUT of politics!Remember separation of Church and State or doesn't anyone adhere to the Constitution anymore?!

    December 19, 2007 05:15 am at 5:15 am |
  24. GRACE


    December 19, 2007 05:15 am at 5:15 am |
  25. Mike, Columbus Ohio

    First let me state, the phrase 'Seperation of church and state' is meant to keep state oout of church, not church out of state. Second, that is clearly a bookshelf. Third what if it is a cross? It represents what christ died on for the christians, jews, muslims, buddhists, hindus, atheists, blakcs, whites, asian, europeans, conservative, liberal, republican, democrat. Fourth, If you don't like Christmas then don't celebrate...don't give or recieve any presents, go to work, don't spend your money at the after christmas sales, don't think about eating that christmas tree cookie at the office party...oh wait you be there either. its CHRISTmas for a reason, that reason is a tiny baby born some 2000 years ago who sent here to die for you. And to everyone who doesn't believe in god or simply refuses to, i have one question...If you are are right, what have I lost? nothing. But if I am right, what have you lost? everything

    December 19, 2007 05:36 am at 5:36 am |
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