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. c, chicago, il

    "Paul is Dead"

    Where did that come from? This guy seems to have a sick sense of humor. Maybe that's why his kid hung a dog and slit its throat.

    Anyway, Ron Paul is still quite alive.

    Posted By Ian, Eastham MA : December 18, 2007 4:37 pm

    This is not a reference to Ron Paul, Ian.

    Since you asked this question, I'm guessing that you are either in your 20s or 30s and do not remember when The Beatles were still performing together.

    I'm only 24 and I still know what "Paul is dead" refers to.

    December 19, 2007 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  2. Texrat, Fort Worth, TX

    How naive does Huckabee think voters are?

    Wait– don't answer that.

    Anyway, I'm sure it was intentional, but it's also much ado about nothing, too, IMO.

    December 19, 2007 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  3. Adam from Ohio

    can't even say ‘Merry Christmas’ anymore without somebody getting all upset about it.”

    Ah, there he goes with the bull**** war on Christmas. What a smooth operator–he put out an "innocent" ad so that he could drum up a phony war on Christmas and then say, "look at these terrible secularists."

    December 19, 2007 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  4. Susan, San Francisco, CA

    It's not after watching Huckabee's ad, but it's after watching CNN's interview of Huchabee for the bookshelf that I've decided that Huckabee would be a good president. He just needs to find a more shrewd and practical Vice President and guide the nation to the right path. For those in San Francisco area wanting to vote for Edwards, I just want to point out that Edwards thinks any family making $200,000 is top rich and should be taxed more, and in the Bay Area, if you don't make this much, you can't afford living in a real house. So when you vote for him, think about all the middle class people here will get taxed more, and already middle class people are being weighed down by all the heavy burdens of paying for everything in the country. The super rich don't really get taxed much because they have smart accountants and their income is capital gain, not regular salary.

    December 19, 2007 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  5. Patrick Cincinnati, Ohio

    This is nothing more than a feable attempt for the news forums to try and push us towards who they want as a contender for their candididate. Fox news bashes everyone not Gulieani and CNN is for whoever would do worse against Clinton or Obama. Wake up America. Form your own opinion and vote for who you beleive will be best for this country. One who handles such topics as a stronger dollar, lower fuel costs, alternataive fuels, global warming, and basic freedoms that we should have based upon the foundation of America. I dont want to fight everyones battles but at the same time if we don't who will? As a superpower we need to make sure countries do the right thing. This means we also need to do the right thing in order to set examples. But anyway – regardless if that person is a Republican or Democrat, I like Huck and because he is s straight talke. However I do believe he pandars a little to the religous base. I like Mccain but I fear is his message is not getting across. I wanted to vote for him in 2000 but Bush got the nomination before Ohio had a chance to really do anything about it. I like on the other Side as well. I like Clinton but I have concerns that it will really be Bill running the show. I like Obabam but I am unsure if he pandars to his audience. On the other hand Edwards makes me feel dirty after listening to him. Like a car sale gone bad. Giluani does not talk about anything other than Terriorism. He happened to be a leader at the time and was not very popular. Given that Jerry Springer was once the mayor of Cincinnati. Can you imagine him running for President if he happened to be mayor during a terrorism attack on Cincinnati?

    Wake up an vote your mind people we are all humans and are capable of voting based upon critcal thinking. Please do that come election day. Just don't vote the party line or what your church tells you to vote for.

    December 19, 2007 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  6. J, NY, NY

    I cringed when I read some of these posts by theists. Anyone who doesn't believe in evolution, i.e Huckabee, cannot be trusted to run the nation, Furthermore, the argument over symantics that follows the logic that because science uses the term theory when describing its fundamental beliefs it isnt fact is not an argument. Evolution has never been disproven and is an observable and verifiable reality.Just like the theory of gravity, theory of relativity and so on. Since you may not want to take the time needed to read the thousands upon thousands of scientific journals and texts that demonstrate this here are some youtube links that will give you quick answers:

    December 19, 2007 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  7. Doug Bell, Harrisburg, PA

    I don't know why there's such an uproar that Huckabee denies subliminal Christmas message in his recent ad. Go back to your coverage of the 2004 Republican National Convention and study closely the design of the podium. It appeared to me and most everyone I spoke to that there was a cross shape in the inlayed wood of the podium . . . and no one noticed or pitched a fit (as they SHOULD have) at that!!! Why doesn't CNN investigate this and do a report on it. Keep this thing going, please please please!!!

    December 19, 2007 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  8. J Houston, TX

    US population – 300 million
    US Christians – 270 million

    90% of the population believes Jesus is their savior.

    And the earlier poster is correct. If Huck want's to celebrate Christmas in it's wholeness, he ought to reconcile with the Catholic Church.

    Bless him for saying Merry Christmas though. I turn to every holiday clerk that says "Happy Holidays" and look them square in the eye and say "Merry Christmas."

    I am not offended if a Muslim or Jew gives me a blessing from their faith, so you can't be offended if you recieve a blessing from mine.

    December 19, 2007 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  9. John Allen Boston, MA

    I'm SICK of this guy abusing his identity as a Christian to get votes. This is SO slimy! He's using his religion as a qualification for office. This is SO wrong! Besides, if this was a bookshelf, it would have books on it.

    December 19, 2007 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  10. The Great William Wallace is Ten Feet Tall

    As a pro-growth, pro-national defense, yet very heathen and non-religious Conservative Libertarian (is there truly such a thing?), I have to say, you whiners need to get a life.

    The guy simply said Merry Christmas. So sue him.

    How about a nice, "You have a nice day, too," in response? No need to be a petulant jerk when someone is wishing you well.

    That's the bitter pill of "tolerance" that liberals refuse to swallow: accepting and tolerating views different from your own.

    See, liberals demand tolerance, but only for the issues they champion. You other rubes, well you can just go p*ss up a rope.

    December 19, 2007 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  11. David, Tampa, Fl.

    I am a Buddhist but wish all Christians a Merry Christmas, all Jews a Happy Hanukkah, all Muslims a glorious Ramadan, and those of other faiths Joy and Peace. What I dont want is for any of those groups to shove their religion down my throat through the political process. Also, New Years is just around the corner so Happy Holidasys to all.

    December 19, 2007 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  12. Al, NY NY

    It's a shame when a Christian candidate in a mainly Christian nation is actually critized for wishing people a Merry Christmas. Evangelicals are often accused of intolerance by liberal types. But those same liberals cannot tolerate Christianty and will do anything to remove all aspects of faith and religion from society.

    The Republican party is a Christian party, so are the Democrats so are 90% of the American people. The difference is the Republicans embrace their faith. The Democrats are only Christians when it suits their political careers.

    Posted By Matt, New York, New York : December 18, 2007 4:18 pm

    So what do the other 10% count as? Nothing? I guess Jews, Muslims, Buddhists etc are not welcomein the GOP. I am assuming Yuck reviewed the ad before it aired and approved as is, even though it appears to be a cross purposely or not. But since he was targeting Christians, he left it. That also goes for wishing people of other faiths a "happy whatever"

    As for Matts comment above about removing faith, we are trying to keep it where it belongs. NOT front and center. I do not want the GOP who obviously would put religion back into the process trying to press their beliefs into everyone else's life.

    December 19, 2007 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  13. Kevin, Princeton, NJ

    This has probably been said, but as a politician, in a political message, Huckabee knew that saying "Merry Christmas" would bring a reaction. For him to say otherwise is deceitful and dishonest, or he's an idiot. Either way, he loses credit.

    For those of you bashing atheists, the reason they're up in arms isn't because they hate God, it's the fact that people are saying "I think Christians's should stand up up for what they believe. We need a strong Godly leader for president." To an atheist, that means their leader is going to be listening to voices in his head for guidance, instead of the people, and rationality.

    We are an ethical nation, a humane nation, a great nation... We are not, however, a Christian Nation. Our country is based on Freedom, that's it. God can be good, the Bible can make some valid arguments, and Jesus may have been a swell guy, no problem, but I refuse to let the "Lord our Savior" take office. If Huckabee backs away from his pulpit and approaches the presidency as a representative of the land of the Free, I'm all for him. So far, he's just touting religion, and it's a terrifying thought.

    December 19, 2007 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  14. Adam from Ohio

    Anyone who wouldn't vote for Huckabbe because of his faith are the same bigots that wouldn't vote for Obama because he's black.

    McCain/Huckabee in 2008
    Posted By Matt, New York, New York : December 19, 2007 10:14 am

    I'm an atheist, and I dislike Huckabee–not because he is a Christian, but because his social philosophy is such that social ills can only be solved through Christian faith and not through public policy. That's at odds with my worldview. Your view, Matt, that that means I am not voting for him because he's a Christian makes you an idiot. If that were the case, I would vote for nobody. I would not have voted for Bill Clinton. And last year, I would not have voted for Ted Strickland, a Methodist minister, for Ohio governor. The difference with those guys? They don't govern from the pulpit.

    December 19, 2007 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  15. Bukky, baltimore, MD

    Liberals hate Huckabee because they hate Christians and can't stand see a candidate devoted to his morals. Huckabee is not a Christian running for president, he is a great leader who happens to be Christian.

    Anyone who wouldn't vote for Huckabbe because of his faith are the same bigots that wouldn't vote for Obama because he's black.

    McCain/Huckabee in 2008

    Posted By Matt, New York, New York : December 19, 2007 10:14 am

    Whoa dude... 1st- I am a christian AND a tree hugging liberal. I dont hate christians. I seriously dislike people who believe that THEIR way of christianity/ Doctirne/ Faith is the ONLY way and all other believers are doomed to burn. I dont want YOUR way of thinking forced down my throat or mandated into law.

    Thats what Bush tried to do with gay rights and abstinence as sex ed. Those ideas are core to religious beliefs and not necessarily what MAKES SENSE.

    And really... How can you equate one not wanting mandated religious doctrine to one NOT voting for a man based on skin color. Religion defines a man more so that his skin color because religion goes deep to the soul while color is only surface. Clearly you have issues for thinking the two are eqaul.

    December 19, 2007 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  16. MikeHenry Ft Washington, PA

    ...and the three Christmas balls on the shelf represent the Trilogy, and the Christmas Tree represents the logging industry
    This isn't news. I want to know who will be at the next quilting bee.

    December 19, 2007 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  17. Oz, Chicago, IL

    yes, there is a subliminal message when you play it back! and it's not "Paul is dead", Hucleberry, you old jokester, you. it actually says; "I am a wolf in sheeps clothes, I march in step with Bush but try to act like I don't now that I realize it won't get me elected, I am a member of the CFR and bow to their wishes along with the international bankers and corporations and this explains my sudden surge of media coverage, I am a globalist, I will tax the living daylights out of you like I did Arkansas" continues but it is muffled and actually sounds like he makes a deal with satan. figures.

    December 19, 2007 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  18. B in NC

    It's plain to see that Huckabee is pandering to the right-wing evangelical base. Nothing wrong with that except we aren't electing a Theocrat in Chief.

    By the way he does NOT have a degree in Theology. He attended the seminary for one year. He has a B.A. in religion from a Baptist university. Do some homework before you defend his "degree in theology". He doesn't have one.

    December 19, 2007 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  19. Bill, IA

    What so many of you don't seem to understand is that the louder you complain, the more you are driving Christians who are sick of being attacked to him in droves.

    Posted By Faith, Evansville, Indiana: December 18, 2007 8:36 pm
    Faith has a point. I've been a Christian since I was 12 and have never voted for a republican presidential nominee. In fact, I am a STRONG supporter of Hillary in this presidential race. However, to see Mike being bashed on the topic of wishing his supporters (mostly Christian GOP’ers) Merry Christmas, makes we want to write his campaign a check.

    He seems genuine, which is more than I can say for most in this race. McCain was recently asked if he was a Christian, but would never admit outright that he was. I find that disturbing. I didn’t vote for Bush or his daddy in their elections, and wouldn’t vote for someone solely based on their faith (simply because I have found that people will say anything to get elected). However, multitudes of people did group around Bush in 2000 and 2004, just because he claimed to be a Christian. So, whether you like it or not, Christians can (and are likely to) choose the next President of the United States. Let’s not give them (and me) reasons to rally around this candidate. Comments like “Keep your Jesus out of my Government” serve not only to offend me and countless other Christians, they offend God (Jesus’ Father), Jesus (God the Son), and the Holy Spirit of God. The God-head, as we Christians call it, can triple-handedly alter the course of the election. May God’s mercies, blessings, and grace flow to all of the candidates, especially mine.

    Hillary ’08!

    December 19, 2007 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  20. KND

    I just don't understand why some people refuse to believe that it is possible for a Christian to be a Christian without parading (and by parading I mean forcing) their religion around for all else to see. I am a liberal, democrat, Christian who, when greeting passersby, says "Seasons greetings" and then Christians are happy, Jews, and any and everyone else because if nothing else, it is Winter. Republicans need to stop their "monopoly" on religion and need to admit the possibility that democrats' desire to keep Christianity, or religion in general, out of the public and governmental sect is not representative of shame or embarrassment for Christianity but is upholding the highest tenet of said, religion, the golden rule, namely that the best way to love and show respect for one's neighbors is to be open, and more than tolerant of their personal and religious beliefs.

    December 19, 2007 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  21. Michael wall, NJ

    Hi Ian,
    From Eastham MA ,no hard feelings. Ya see how easy it is for most any issue, comment etc to be taken out of context when one doiesnt have a full understanding of the background.If we all knew everything about everything maybe the world would be a better place.
    It´s Ironic that an issue over a cross in a political campaign became a lesson on a detail about the Beatles and Paul McCartney.Bottom Line is that this country is a mess and it´s diversity that we are so proud to exclaim to the world will be our down fall. For those that celebrate the Birth Of christ it´s quite sad that this beautiful time of the year has become a corporate/ media campaign as the brain washed masses flood the non descript shopping malls.
    peace to all

    December 19, 2007 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  22. Sharon, Littleton, CO

    It's plain to see that this is a cross...nothing SUBLIMINAL about it. We don't need another Bible thumper in the White House. This guy has ZERO foreign policy experience. I hope the GOP has sense enough to nominate someone else or they're toast in '08.

    December 19, 2007 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  23. Jack L., Lancaster, Pa

    Ahhh, maybe it really is a sign, sent from Heaven to tell us he is the chosen one? Could be? God can work miracles you know.

    Huckabee = Heaven-sent


    December 19, 2007 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  24. kasey

    Agree agree agree....there is no story here. It is a media attempt to sensationalize something out of nothing again. Huckabee may not be fully qualified to be president like a Hillary and Giuliani (in my opinion) but he is sharp when it comes to dealing with the media. The media has not made a puppet on the string out of Huckabee like the other candidates. He's standing tall and firm with who and what he is...answering only to the real public. This approach is masterful and I can not pull myself away from this guy even though I am such a big fan of other candidates. His responses exposes what the spin machine & media is doing and it kills them. My fear? the media will now go on a character assination crusade ...and poor Huckabee....I hope he can handle it. Though, my suspision is that the public can see through all this and the more they attack him on these ridiculous stories, the more support he'll get. Advise to the spin machine.....attack the candidate but do not attack the public's'll back fire on you. Go Huckabee!! oh....btw, it was only a bookshelf....I saw no cross other then a white bookshelf. Also, I am no me! but I say merry christmas to all so what's wrong with that? but then again...what do I know...I'm only an average voter.

    December 19, 2007 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  25. Christine,NC

    Again Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays
    Frohe Weihnachten, Felize Navidad, Bon Noel,Buon Natale ,Gelukkige feestdagen, Feliz férias,καλες διακοπες , 즐거운 명절 , 幸せな休日, 節日快樂,You guys don't get it , you play way to much in this ...No matter what religion,important is what the candidates can do for us and our country , frankly I don't care if he/she is pagan,atheist or what ever longest the job is done better than is the past especially for our poor,our almost no more existing middleclass
    our children,veterans etc get the picture. Happy Holidays to the whole country

    December 19, 2007 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
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