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. Tim rockhill sc

    you people keep forgetting what this country was founded on GOD if you don't like it get over it .CHRISTMAS is what it is the celebration of the birth of our lord and savior i say merry christmas and always will........ MERRY CHRISTMAS.......

    December 19, 2007 05:38 am at 5:38 am |
  2. Glenn Gaviller, Newfane NY

    Whoever is seeing images in the background and making a federal case out of it needs mental help. They obviously have an agenda and are wasting our precious time. With other gigantic issues looming, why waste time on trivial stuff?

    December 19, 2007 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  3. Mark, Fredericksburg VA

    Please note subliminal is defined as "below the threshold of conscious perception" Since the "cross" was perceived, than the "cross" was not subliminal. A better word is overt or open to view : readily perceived . The use of subliminal is an editorialized word that shades Huckabee's actions as "underhanded" or "manipulative." Huckabee doesn't hide his faith in his speech, so why would a reporter think that he would hide his faith in a Merry Christmas message? Maybe the reporters need to get a hint from the overt language of Gov. Huckabee and have a Merry Christmas. The Christmas story is about Christ's birth anyway, Easter is about his death and resurrection.(Does anyone know of a book shelf that doesn't have intersecting right angles?)The Christmas tree isn't subliminal, but the book shelf is, huh? Perhaps Huckabee should have had a picture of an empty tomb!

    December 19, 2007 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  4. Steve Spooner Auburn, Maine

    I think Mr Huckabee has for me hit the nail on the head. For those folks who wish not to celebrate Christmas they need not but to attempt all this political correctness with Happy Holidys seems to me to tell those of us who do celebrate Christmas the we should not enjoy our freedom of religion as our past battles for freedom granted us. Thank you Mr Huckabee for having the courage of your convictions.

    December 19, 2007 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  5. Christine

    All I can add is Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all

    December 19, 2007 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  6. Brian, Cocoa Florida

    I was having a tough time on who to back for the next election and now I am sure. It is Mike Huckabee! I am sick of main stream media trying to create stories that are not there. It's a bookshelf!

    December 19, 2007 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  7. Luke

    Political correctness is for shmucks.

    I wish my Muslim friends Eid Mubarak and they reply back with the same words, although I am Christian, and neither of us feel any offence.

    On Christmas, there is absolutely nothing with wishing others Merry Christmas, for that is what it is – Christmas!

    Why on earth should it cause offence to anyone unless they are so paranoid and shallow they don't deserve to be taken into account for anything.

    December 19, 2007 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  8. Robyn Harris

    Almost 80% of Americans identify as Christians, what's wrong with trampling the rights of the tiny minority of only 60,000,000 non-Christians.

    Of course, you need to be the right kind of Christian, since Huckabee himself has said recently that he isn't sure that Mormon's don't revere Satan.

    Yes, we have the option of an American Theocracy, a Christian Dictatorship with all of the hate, intolerance and violence that so many other parts of the world have to live with every day.

    Or we could try Freedom. The courage and the faith in the American spirit that has kept political religions from controlling our government and our lives for 230 yeats. The choice is ours.

    December 19, 2007 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  9. L.Roy Woodbury, NJ

    It's interesting that so many people spend so much time trying to find a possible link to religion in politics, schools, shopping malls, or anywhere especially during this time of year. Obviously THERE IS a link! If they don't want to hear or see things that have to do with CHRISTMAS then why spend so much time LOOKING for it? Just ignore the concept and pretend it doesn't exist; or are they really looking for something more?

    December 19, 2007 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  10. Axel, RKDA, California

    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.”

    Well, if that is really how Christmas got it's name, why don't we settle all of this anti-Christmas crap right now and call it something that is named after what it is really about now days. How about "Salmas"? You know, a contraction of 'Sale Mass'.

    December 19, 2007 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  11. thomas bailey elkhart, in

    Some people need to get a life. It's a bookshelf, if some people see a cross than maybe they want to see a cross. I see a bookshelf. Come on America, don't we have alot of other issues we need to worry about?

    December 19, 2007 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  12. Hubert

    From a Liberal Democrat. I don't see anything wrong with Huckabee's message. So he's a was Carter and Clinton. Both Southern Baptist. Hillary is a Christian. Usually Democrats don't jump up and down and yell..Hey look at us..we are Christians. I don't think Jesus would like that.

    December 19, 2007 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  13. Blayze Kohime, Columbus OH

    It irks me when people say Christmas originated as a Christian holiday, when it was clearly stolen from the pagan holiday Yuletide in order to get more pagans to join the Church during the Dark Ages. Christ wasn't even born on that day, its just an astrological thing.
    By the way; it was called 'the Dark Ages' when Christianity ruled Europe for a _reason_. We do not want this happening again, and that is why I am against clergy of any religion (even my own) becoming the leader.

    December 19, 2007 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  14. Sunday School Girl, Pittsburgh, PA

    Christmas is a Christian holiday, and we have the right to celebrate it, even if we are the majority faith in this country. I find this tip-toeing about trying not to offend someone offensive. Say "Happy Holidays," if it makes you more comfortable, but I DO NOT celebrate "the Sparkle Season," Pittsburgh, and I am NOT taking "a Winter Holiday," Mr. Employer. I am celebrating Christmas, the anniversary of my Savior's birth. When I wish you "Merry Christmas," I have only the best for you in mind.

    December 19, 2007 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  15. Antonio, Tempe AZ

    First, it's a bookshelf. If it is a subliminal message it's well done, bravo and all that.

    However, it does gall me that the Republicans have been the "Party of Faith" for years now but push a Book of Revelations foreign policy. Now that an actual Christian runs for President the movement conservatives are afraid he'll undo all of the very *anti-christian* domestic policies they've put into place.

    That having been said I'm not christian (nice book, lot's of good teachings on morality but I don't believe in ghosts, holy or otherwise) and I think Huckabee would make a mediocre President although frankly anyone will look good after GW.

    December 19, 2007 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  16. Pat Balke Scotch Plains, NJ

    With all the pressing problems in today's world such as war, poverty and millions without medical coverage, I find this current debate to be meaningless. I do however wonder how America would react if instead of an ordained minister a Catholic priest or Rabbi were running for office? Can you imagine the howls from our Evangelical friends? I know, that's different.

    December 19, 2007 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  17. Mike, Frederick MD

    Unfortunately I am not the least bit surprised that such an allegation arose from something so nonsensical. It is truly sad that even the simplest of things can't be conveyed to your fellow citizens these days without having someone in enter an uproar. Even in reading some of the responses to this story I am seeing more partisan prejudice than anything else; yet another travesty. I suppose the only way to avoid something like this would be to have Huckabee standing in front of a white wall wishing everyone a happy chrannukwanza. But then I suppose the white wall would be a race issue.

    December 19, 2007 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  18. Tim Eidson, Greenville, SC

    You can't be serious that this is conisered worthy of NEWS..this article is running over Star Magazines if we're going to run with the conspiracy idea...might as well include the 3 balls in the background too...I'm sure they picked up that that's subliminal imagery supporting the Trinity of the Christian faith (note: saracasm).

    December 19, 2007 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  19. Cletus McCrabgroin, Punxatawney, PA

    What a hick.

    December 19, 2007 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  20. Jose, Orlando, Florida

    The person in this ticker with knowledge of the true facts is Dave from Kansas, the Romans celebrated this time of the year for their harvest and exchanged gifts in return, the Christians of the time became jealous and started the same tradition with the exception of adding the 25th of December as the birth of Christ. No one knows exactly when Christ was born, it says in the bible that it was cold. For Christians to herald this day as their own is just plain wrong. People read your history!

    December 19, 2007 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  21. Chris Seattle, WA

    I don't care much for Huckabee, but at the same time, christians should be allowed to be celebrate Christmas publicly without people complaining that we are forcing Christianity down their throats.

    You know what I have to say about it... I don't believe homosexuality is right, but I DO believe that homosexuals should have the right to express themselves. Ever heard of the gay pride parade.

    Other belief systems celebrate their uniqueness, but whenever we try to express our faith in god we get hounded over it.

    Face it, our country was formed from protestants who were trying to escape the religious persecution of the day.

    Everyone should be happy that we have this time to celebrate our uniqueness and the blessing we have to have our personal freedoms. Celebrate to what, whom you may. Have a great HOLIDAY season!

    December 19, 2007 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  22. Benny. Panama City, FL

    I support Mr. Huckabee. Whether it was a plan messege or not, it is the basic principle on which this country was found. Why is it ok to downgrade the Christians, but we don't to the other religions. No one get upset about that. I beleve that this country has turned its back on the true reason for the Christmas Season. Christ. It is time to bring back Christ in Christ. Perhaps that is what Mr. Huckabee is doing.

    December 19, 2007 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  23. James Vancouver Washington

    I have absolutely NO problem with a Christmas ad that features a panning not-so-ssubliminal cross. My issue is his blatantly LYING about it. Rather than simply saying "meh...Im a Christian..did this neat-o lighting effect after all its with it" he rather puts ridicule on anyone with half a brain who KNOWS that nothing in a political ad is "by chance" by referring to them as "Paul is Dead" Beatles geeks. It speaks volumes about the kinds of dishonesty we could expect from a Huckabee Presidency. He hides his LIE by saying "you just dont like Jesus" and we aint buying it- LOVING the sinner and HATING the sin atm in Washington

    December 19, 2007 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  24. get real madison wisconsin

    As someone who has spent thirty years in advertising I can assure you that there is nothing accidental about the cross imagery displayed. Set design is never casual or ill-considered.
    Draw your own conclusions about the sincerity of his denial.

    December 19, 2007 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  25. William Courtland, Waterford, Ontario

    Thanking Mr. Huckabee for the well wishes.

    If only we could put aside the requirement for gift giving, but still present gifts to the children on the eight or twelve days of the season, and give a christmas feast away with the funds which would be spent on the presents for the alternating adults, so funding a meal for those less fortunate.

    When is Mosesmas?

    December 19, 2007 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
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