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. LQ, Rochester MN

    VERY WELL PUT, JONAH FROM BOSTON, my old home town.

    Recently there was an article in our local paper about a Christian church – think it is the Church of God, or something similar – that refuses to celebrate Christmas BECAUSE THERE IS NOTHING IN THE BIBLE about it!! In fact, early in this country's history, Christmas was not celebrated at all.

    I saw the Huckster's Christmas commercial and frankly it scared me. He is folksy, he is funny, he is so very Christian, and he is getting quite a following. But as Jonah said: He does not believe in Evolution!! What, if we don't believe in the bible, we aren't good people, we aren't good Americans?

    After Romney's "faith speech", Joe Biden actually said something to the effect that it shouldn't even matter if a person is an atheist. Faith is something personal. It should NOT be part of the presidential race. December is a month for widely different holidays observed by Christians, Jews, Muslims, as well as Africans the world over. (These are just the holidays I know of; there could be more). What can be so wrong about saying Happy Holidays!

    Happy Holidays

    December 18, 2007 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  2. Michael Allen Palm Beach Fl

    First to the previous Blog that said that Huckabee's Theology Degree is not a real college education. Please remember that Harvard was also established by and for Christians and still has a prestigious Theology Degree program. And, to those who say religion can not effect a choice for President I say what a load of leftist secular humanist garbage. A candidates religious views effect his world views which effect his political decisions. For a quick example. A fundamentalist Muslim believes Isreal should be thrown into the sea where as a Christian believes Isreal has a GOD given right to a home land. This is just ine of many examples where your religion will shape your politics.

    December 18, 2007 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  3. Robb Shecter, Portland Oregon

    "I don’t know what else to call Christmas, last time I checked that is what we celebrate."

    Here's the important point of his comment: who exactly is "we"? Him and his family ... or the American people?

    December 18, 2007 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |

    Actually the message I was getting says "Vote Early! Vote Often!"

    December 18, 2007 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  5. Charles in Salt Lake City, UT

    I have to wonder what sort of dim-wit would try to read a "subliminal message" into a bookshelf. A Christian cross, perhaps, intended to warn potential voters away from supporting a (gasp) Mormon like Romney?

    But wait - I thought Mormons WANT others to think of them as being a "Christian" church, too. So why should the symbol of the cross (even if it is only a bookshelf) be any less an endorsement for Mitt Romney than for Mike Huckabee? (Or for that matter, for Fred Thompson, Barack Obama, or any other politician I can think of, except parhaps Joe Lieberman?)

    Oh, right. Mormons don't like or use the symbol of the cross. Never have. Odd, isn't it. The LDS insist that others should consider their denomination to be "Christian" because, as they point out, they believe in Jesus Christ. This would seem to make sense except for the fact that it would lead one to also think anyone who believes in the Book of Mormon should therefore be considered a "Mormon", right?

    Wrong. The LDS Church emphatically denies that the approximately 40-60,000 people who currently believe in and practice modern polygamy based on the teachings of the Mormon founder Joseph Smith should be entitled to be called "Mormons".

    The term the LDS Church uses instead for those people?

    They call them "cultists."

    December 18, 2007 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  6. Gideon, Chicago, IL

    Nothing in politics is accidental or ad-libbed – especially Christian propaganda.

    December 18, 2007 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  7. John, Washington DC

    It's a bookshelf, highlighted by studio lights – but if the country (or a part of it) wants to see a cross in it, cool!

    Is it ok for Obama to appeal to blacks because he is? Is it ok for Hillary to appeal to women because she is? You bet! Do you thik they play those 'cards'? You bet! And that's their right.

    Were Mike to have prominently displayed a crucifix around his neck that's his right, and he has the right to self-appeal to people he identifies with – the 85% of this country who self-identify as Christians.

    December 18, 2007 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  8. Julie, San Diego CA

    If he really meant "we," he could have easily wished other Americans a Happy know, "Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and very Happy New Year to all." Something along those lines.
    Everyone has a right to wish people a Merry Christmas – especially if it is their own holiday. Everyone, though, is not running for President of the United States. See in THIS country, we are a mix of all religions. He clearly doesn't feel a need to desire to be inclusive of all Americans.

    December 18, 2007 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  9. amazed, west palm, florida

    Are you all for real? A subliminal cross? What a crock! Wake up folks will ya? Mike cares about people, period. He has already stated his views on the seperation of church and state and I guess you folks did not listen. Get real people and grow up. Hey CNN, I'm moving to FOX who actually reports "News" (and voting for Mike!) WE LIKE MIKE!

    December 18, 2007 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  10. Devin, Boulder, CO.

    I don't consider myself a Christian, but, you people that have an issue with this really, really need to GET A LIFE!

    December 18, 2007 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  11. Imran, NJ, USA

    As a Muslim I hardly expect Huckabee to say Happy Eid.

    So Huckabee a Christian did not say happy holidays. Who really cares. Go to any Patel owned grocery store in NJ and you'll hear educated and well off Indians say Namaste.

    Should I stop shopping at these stores simply because they don't wish each other happy holidays?

    Let us talk issues. Moral and ethical ones.

    Does Huckabee obey the commandments or will he ignore them to suit his "foreign policy" goals?

    Come on CNN!

    December 18, 2007 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  12. Brian, Delray Beach, Florida

    I resent the statement that when "we" are celebrating Christmas we are celebrating Christ's birth.

    I celebrate Christmas as a purely secular holiday.

    December 18, 2007 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  13. Mark, Springfield, MO

    The difference is the Republicans embrace their faith.

    100% Total BS!

    Republicans only embrace faith and religion to gain POWER. Look at all of the scandals in the Republican Party over the last few years. The Republican Party makes the Democrats look like SAINTS with all of their sex, money and corruption problems.

    The only time Republicans embrace religion or faith is to scare up support from the rabid religious right. The Republican Party will use and abuse religion to get whatever they want and that is always power and control.

    What scares me is that the Republican Party is starting to take on many of the aspects of the ruling party in Iran. I mean do we really want a Christian version of Extremist Muslim politics in our country? The Republican Party is definitely taking our country in that direction and that is patently Un-American.

    December 18, 2007 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  14. Omar, Canada

    People are ridiculous, so what if he had a cross in the background, although it really just seems as more of a very convenient coincidence for his opponents. I am a muslim person living in Canada and frankly find that its stupid and pointless to be unable to say Merry Christmas, or anything to that effect. I say it to people all the time...people need to come to a realization that they live in a Christian country....its not like if people non-christian countries will have to stop promoting their religious holidays because of the Christian population. If you dont like it then that is your problem.

    December 18, 2007 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  15. Chris, Rochester, NY

    If this was really just a "Merry Christmas" message, as Huckabee claims, he broke campaign finance laws by using campaign funds for non-campaign purposes.

    December 18, 2007 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  16. Todd, Burke VA

    Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

    December 18, 2007 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  17. Kar98

    Yeah, well, we also celebrate Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, orthodox Christmas, some even do Hanukkah and Kwanza, or Solstice, and Eid; and all the days in between we might be taking off work, you know, taking a holiday or two = holidays. Have happy ones. Isn't all that complicated, is it?

    December 18, 2007 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  18. charles los angeles, ca

    are you kidding me!!??? it's a bookshelf! i'm not a relegious person myself, but even if it really was a cross i wouldn't care. it's his ad, let him do whatever he wants. if you don't like him don't vote for him. but that is definitely a bookshelf, not a cross.

    December 18, 2007 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  19. Peter, Wausau, WI

    I know exactly what you mean, President Huckabee!

    Around this time of year, I often find myself being irritated by TV commercials that wish everybody "Happy Holidays." Whatever happened to Christmas?!?

    Nothing good can come of a human government thinking itself to be above the necessity of praising God for all that's good in the world.

    December 18, 2007 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  20. Fred Bronson, Los Angeles CA

    There's nothing wrong with the Huckabee ad, if he wants to be President of the Christians. I'm looking for a candidate who wants to be President of everyone.

    It's fine to wish people a Merry Christmas, but a candidate who is truly presidential wouldn't have run this commercial.

    December 18, 2007 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  21. Darryl, St. Cloud, MN

    Is CNN sending a subliminal message in the caption under Huck's photo? Read carefully. "Is the bookshelf behind Huckabee in his Christmas ad is a subliminal message?"

    December 18, 2007 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  22. Ansel, Pittsburgh, PA

    Whether or not Huckabee meant for the bookshelf in the backround to portray a cross, the accusation that it represents subliminal messaging is absurd. Subliminal messaging has been proven not to have any effect on the decisions we make by numerous psychology studies. However, while that critisim of his add is rediculous, I agree with many others who have posted here that his comments about Christmas are exactly why he should never be president.

    December 18, 2007 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  23. finally, some truth usa

    Way to go Huck!! Finally somebody who isn't kissing up to the whining self-righteous, self-absorbed spoiled rotten widdle wiberals. Christmas is about Christ. Get over it. Some people (liberals) just live to be miserable and complain about everything, wallowing in their own self pitty.

    December 18, 2007 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  24. Mike, Hollywood, CA

    Of course, the cross was purposeful because it was framed and crafted carefully; these things are looked at with a microscope before airing. I've worked in TV adversiting and believe me nothing is overlooked before it is aired. But, if Huckelberry Hound wants to say Merry Xmas and show a tree and a cross in his ad.... more power to him... it's a free country. I think he is pushing the Christian thing a bit much, but then, the GOP has been playing the religion card for a long time and it's now just more blatant with ads and a cross. Let the people decide with their votes if they want this religious guy as president.

    December 18, 2007 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  25. TrueBeliever, Pittsboro, NC

    I'm a Christian and found this pretty lame to do in an election cycle – especially in key states. Just a little disingenuous Mike. You start off by implying that it's not about politics and then no doubt have used political money to show this – unless this came out of your own pocket – then you can do what the heck you want. It's pretty apparent this is a political piece – intended to incite the exact people who are giving you the thumbs up doing it. Isn't there something in the Bible about not bearing false witness?

    December 18, 2007 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
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