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. Chad B. Decatur, Alabama

    If I thought a person of the Jewish faith running for president was best suited for the job, thats who I would vote for. I don't know why a person proud of their faith makes them a poor candidate for a leader. I am voting for Hilary Clinton in the upcoming election so this is not standing up for my candidate. I know several atheists that celebrate Christmas and the only group as a whole that I know of in the United States that doesn't celebrate some kind of winter holiday in December are the Jehovah's Witnesses, and you never hear them saying one word about everything being Christmas or if you wish them a Merry Christmas they say thank you and go along with their day. If you celebrate something other than Christmas promote it. I don't think you will find any Christians that are going to try to make you feel bad for it. But please leave us alone because we are the majority and proud of our faith and what this time of year means to us.

    December 18, 2007 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  2. Reggie, Chicago, IL

    Ian commenter you're showing your youth. Its a reference to an urban legend concerning the Beatles' Paul McCartney. Just google "paul is dead" and learn a little something about music.

    December 18, 2007 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  3. Wayne, Greenville TX

    "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. Back in the Late '60s, there were widespread rumors that Paul McCartney had died and been replaced by a look-alike. There were supposed to be clues in the Beatles music. For example, on the cover of "Abbey Road", Paul is barefoot while the other Beatles are not – allegedly proof that Paul was dead. And supposedly you could hear the words "Paul is dead" if you played certain Beatles records backwards. Of course, not everyone had record players that played backwards.

    As you said, Ron Paul is very much alive. And so is Paul McCartney.

    December 18, 2007 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  4. TJ WILLIAMS, Los Angeles, CA

    The ad is hardly his problem. The man is a real nutjob and will never be President. Now he's good for entertainment.

    December 18, 2007 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  5. Ben Dickens

    “I don’t know what else to call Christmas, last time I checked that is what we celebrate."
    Did he forget Hanukah and Kwanza? Not everyone celebrates Christmas during this time of year! America is multi-cultural or did you forget that too?

    December 18, 2007 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  6. Dave, Austin

    I wonder if Huck will join any protests if some store, oh, like Target, displays a "Happy Holidays" sign instead of "Merry Christmas"?

    Keep your religion to yourself, Huck. I neither need nor want it.

    December 18, 2007 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  7. Paul, Waynesboro, VA

    The same "wink and a nod" that Bush gave earlier in his presidency when he spoke behind a podium with a cross on the front.

    December 18, 2007 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  8. Independent in IA

    There is nothing this man will not stoop to in his fervor to cram his religious beliefs down the throat of citizens whether they want it or not. Obviously the intent in framing this spot was to imply 'Christian Beliefs'.

    Won't work, Yuckleberry. Get religion out of your campaign except to pray to your maker that you won't break down and cry when you've been soundly defeated.

    December 18, 2007 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  9. Dave, Indianapolis Indiana

    "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction"
    – Blaise Pascal

    December 18, 2007 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  10. Dan, TX

    Ian, it was a Beatles reference, not a Ron Paul reference. People thought that there was a subliminal message in a Beatles album that said "Paul is Dead". I know many Ron Paul supporters want to make everything about him, but Huckabee was just wishing everybody a Merry Christmas and he got attacked for it.

    December 18, 2007 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  11. Mike, Cheney, WA

    Shouldn't all these people worried about the War on Christmas become Catholics since that's where the word came from?

    December 18, 2007 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  12. Nathaniel R.D. Mounce Somerset, KY

    For any of you who are wondering.
    I believe Preside...I mean Mr. Huckabee was referring to how the media and much of the world falsely believed Paul McCartney had died in 1969.

    December 18, 2007 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  13. Christopher Thurow Sr

    This is a "campaign advertisement"

    If Huckabee wanted to be a real Christmas hero he would have used his own money to produce and air the ad.

    He didn't.

    December 18, 2007 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  14. Keith, Reisterstown, MD

    It's interesting how everyone loses sight of the original intent of our founding fathers regarding Separation of Church and State... their intent was to keep the State from establishing a State-sponsored church (much like China is doing now)... NOT to keep religion out of politics. I'm not asking you to believe me, but if you dig a little deeper instead of believing the limited perspective taught by our public school systems, you WILL be surprised!

    I think it is tragic that we are generally unwilling to look to our American history to see see how our Founding Fathers looked to the Bible in establishing the Constitution and all the freedoms and liberties that result for people of ALL race, gender and religions. I'll always be more inclined to place more trust in a leader that looks to Divine guidance than one that doesn't.

    December 18, 2007 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  15. Tommy Murray,Ky

    You know if that is a bookself behind Huckabee then it would have shown the lines from the beginninjg until the end of the ad. I'm sorry but only highliting a short segment of the shelf did what they wanted it to accomplish.

    December 18, 2007 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  16. Joyce memphis, tn

    I am a democrat but I have to back Huckabee on this. He is a Christian who was just saying Merry Christmas to those who accept it. The last time I checked, we Christians celebrate Christmas around this time. If you don't celebrate Christmas then OH WELL...he wasn't referring to you!!!! STOP BEING SO OFFENDED OVER SMALL THINGS AND ENJOY YOUR CHRISTMAS!!!!

    December 18, 2007 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  17. Dr. Truth, Boston

    Subliminal? It was totally liminal! Jesus Jesus Jesus....that's all this man knows how to say. I'm sick of it. Keep your Jesus out of my governement.

    December 18, 2007 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  18. Wil, Rural Retreat, VA

    For the first time in years, someone is willing to stand up for his fellow Christians. At least Mike Huckabee is not embarrassed to be a Christian.
    Christians are the only group that is being discriminated against. It is time that someone defended our Lord. America has been blessed by God, and we are losing His protection due to those who try to deny Him.
    We need to pray for Mike Huckabee and his family. Christians have always been under attack. The more publicity that Mike receives, the devil will use the liberals to attack him as they attacked Jesus.

    December 18, 2007 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  19. jk

    Huckabee should feel free to wish people Merry Christmas or whatever other holiday greeting he prefers. It's pretty simple to say Happy Holidays, but if he'd rather not be inclusive, that is his perogative. But don't try to start a quasi-culture war by making the issue into a "woah is me, I'm a clear-cut majority of the country and I'm oppressed."

    December 18, 2007 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  20. Sue Ann Kendig Berryville, AR

    Okay, ENOUGH! Is Obama black enough? Is Huckaby too Christian? I wonder if Hillary is woman enough or if Romney is Morman enough? Let's stick to the issues in this election and leave all the nit picking out of it!!

    December 18, 2007 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  21. Jeff Adair, Victorville, Ca

    I agree with Huckabee's add. I think Christians's should stand up up for what they believe. We need a strong Godly leader for president.

    December 18, 2007 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  22. Tom, Detroit, MI

    It was philosopher and poet, Georges Santayana, who said
    "those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it."
    Enough Said!

    December 18, 2007 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  23. Dennis Bachman, Charles City, Iowa

    Is this the best people can do to attempt to come up with something negative about Mike Huckabee? Leave him alone already! I just have two comments for the post be BlueGoose. First of all, if you are going to make statement like your statement about the Republican Party should just change it's name to The "Christian Party" and be done with it then at least have the guts to own up to it by posting your name. Second, I agree most Christians are Republican because the Republican Party best represents our values on issues such as marriage, abortion and I am proud to be a part of the Republican or "Christian Party" as you would call it.

    December 18, 2007 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  24. Dave, Kansas KS

    "Last time I checked [Christmas] is what we celebrate"

    -Sorry for centuries it's been the begining of the Winter Solstace that we celebrate. Romans celebrated the God Saturn on this day. There's very little truly Christian about your so-called "Christ-mass" The tree is Pagan, as well as the yule log. The exchanging of presents was from the Roman Saturadia. Celebrating Winter Solstace goes back to the Egyptians, long before your Jesus was thought of. And for almost two centuries after the so called life of Jesus, No christians celebrated X-mas.

    It's only been in the last 100 yrs that Christmas has been celebrated by Christians. Remember that on "The Day of Saturn",while you sit next to the Pagan Tree, under your Druid Misiltoe.

    The Reason for the Season ISN'T Jesus.

    Sorry This season was already taken, enjoy it if you wish – but remember your place.

    December 18, 2007 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  25. Bill, New YOrk, NY

    Not intentional?? Then why does the bookcase have more light on it than the darned Xmas tree and most of the Huckster's face?

    December 18, 2007 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
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