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. Doug, Raleigh, NC

    if it was meant to be a cross, so what.

    December 18, 2007 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  2. Goose, Knoxville, TN

    Good Job Mr. Huckabee! I applaud you!

    December 18, 2007 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |

    Thanks Mike, and Merry Christmas to you too!! That's as simple as it gets...people can play all their word games..but it is Christmas we celebrate this time of the year..period. As to whether "we" includes ALL Americans ..think what you think..As it is the message is for people who celebrate of u can go around saying Happy Holidays..if thats what makes u feel better (and included!!)...This is coming from someone who is not even American (neither republican) and has lived here just 6 years..Phew!!some people just need growing up...(they panic seeing a Christian wish another!!) No ones asking u to wish back, right?? Sooo stop whinnig..Go get on with ur "Christmas Specials" shopping..or is it Holiday Specials?? 🙂

    December 18, 2007 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  4. Rob, Minneapolis, MN

    This was a non issue right up to the point that he denied that the cross symbol was not placed there on purpose. Of course it was purposely placed there along with every other detail of the photo. We already know his religious background and expect him to cater to his base. But denying this symbolism issues way past being dishonest.

    December 18, 2007 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  5. Laura, Grinnell IA

    Why is he so opposed to wishing those who celebrate Kwanzaa, or Hanukkah, or New Years a happy holiday too? Last I checked, they were all holidays. This season is all about holidays. I hope everyone has a happy holiday season regardless of the particular holiday combo they acknowledge. I personally celebrate two of them.

    And so, happy holidays to you all!

    December 18, 2007 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  6. Cliff, El Paso, Texas

    What? Candor from a politician... What's the world coming to? Common sense and straight talk perhaps...Good for you Mr. Huckabee!

    December 18, 2007 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  7. Pete, Burlington, VT

    I am in no way a supporter of Huckabee, but yes, Christmas Day is a federal holiday.

    From the US Offic of Personnel Management website:

    2007 Federal Holidays
    Monday, January 1, New Year's Day
    Monday, January 15, Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
    Monday, February 19*, Washington's Birthday
    Monday, May 28, Memorial Day
    Wednesday, July 4, Independence Day
    Monday, September 3, Labor Day
    Monday, October 8, Columbus Day
    Monday, November 12**, Veterans Day,
    Thursday, November 22, Thanksgiving Day
    Tuesday, December 25, Christmas Day

    Like he said, perhaps we should call it "Happy Three Days After the Winter Solstice." On second thought, that wouldn't fit very well into the meter of many songs...

    December 18, 2007 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  8. Timbo, Maryland

    If he did this intentionally, it's absolutely brilliant.

    December 18, 2007 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  9. MikeknaJ, Orange County CA

    Actually, "WE" do celebrate Christmas, to all of the naysayers above. Because Christmas is a national holiday in America.

    I don't know about you but I don't get any mail on December 25th.

    December 18, 2007 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  10. Faith, Evansville, Indiana

    Let's just say the image of a cross was intentional in the ad. So what? If you don't like it, don't vote for him. He has the right to wish Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it. He has the right to have the image of a cross in his ad if he so chooses. 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.

    December 18, 2007 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  11. Jill, MN

    "It's only been in the last 100 yrs that Christmas has been celebrated by Christians."

    That's what Huckabee meant when he said, "that's what we celebrate" He wasn't talking about what was celebrated 101 years ago.

    To JONAH regarding "he does not believe in scientific fact". When did the THEORY of evolution become FACT?
    You need to get your FACTS right.

    December 18, 2007 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  12. Osama Bin Laden, Heaven City, Gods Country

    I am not a Christian but I dont find anything wrong in Huckabee wishing me Merry Christmas!

    If you truly believe in God, respect all religions!

    December 18, 2007 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  13. Daniel Wilson ,Russell Springs, KY

    I agree with Huckabee. This is the Christmas season. Something that has been celebrated for years and years. Now we are having to cater to those who find it offensive. Maybe the majority are tired of the minority upsetting the apple cart. Wonder what I can do to change Groudhog Day?

    December 18, 2007 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  14. Jon, Plantation, FL

    Some moron commented concerning Huckabee "the guy is presenting himself as a preacher that entered politics without taking off the collar," suggesting that should immediately disqualify him. Do your homework, people, some of the founders of this country and SIGNERS of the Declaration of Independence were men of ministry. People in this country truly do NOT know their history, and just how many lives/sacrifices paved the way for our freedoms...!

    December 18, 2007 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  15. Mitch Reeves

    What is the subliminal meaning by this stories author? The name Rebecca means Servant of God. How dare you CNN.

    December 18, 2007 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  16. Ray, Portland, OR

    Mike Huckabee, or anyone else running for office, has every right to talk about their faith. Period. The religious freedom and tolerance that we enjoy in America is part of what makes this country great.

    You can't make law or public policy based on religion. But you can certainly be a politician and be religious. That is a right that is guaranteed.

    And for those who relentlessly demean people of faith, please, as you ask others to do, just keep your opinion to yourself. Your unkindness demonstrates a need to believe in something, if only good manners.

    December 18, 2007 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  17. Wynter, Loudon, NH

    Now debating that Christmas is Christ Mass steps over the bounds for Huckabee. He wants to be given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the supposed "subliminal cross" in his ad, but then goes and rants about Merry Christmas like the rest of the holidays that include the Jewish Holiday of Hanukkah and the African American Holiday of Kwanzaa are nothing to celebrate?

    I would be the first to claim Merry Christmas to another in honest good cheer. But to state his annoyance at saying Happy Holidays in this way to the whole of society is to isolate himself within the confines of the Christian Coalition. This is not what I would want to see in a candidate that is going to bring all sides together in today's divisive society. His Baptist upbringing is showing in his response. Do we need another zealot in office? No.

    Telling it like I see it,

    December 18, 2007 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  18. LB, Ft Worth TX

    Looks like a bookshelf to me!! Wow!! Can you find some real news?

    December 18, 2007 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  19. Kevin, Metamora, IL

    Why does God offend so many people? It offends them because they know they are not living a life that is pleasing and acceptable to Him. So many people are going to be saddened when the Lord Christ Jesus returns in the Rapture for His people.

    December 18, 2007 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  20. Adam Smith, Richmond Virginia

    Actually the point Huckabee was trying to make with what people thought was a cross was this, The cross represenst our current economy and its trade prctices. The three christmas ornaments in the upper left and none in any other sections of the cross represent that only 25% of Americans are prospering in our global style. economy.

    December 18, 2007 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  21. Tom, Charlottesville, VA

    Yeah, Mike, and since Christmas is the only holiday celebrated by the diverse population of our country right now, your argument works just great. Then again, keep it up. If all you get is the religious right vote, that'll be just fine with me! Meanwhile, someone who respects and appreciates all groups in our country can win the election.

    December 18, 2007 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  22. Josh, Kalamazoo Michigan

    "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.
    Posted By Michael Allen Palm Beach Fl : December 18, 2007 6:54 pm"

    What effect do you think it has when we elect those that pander to the "fundamentalist" Christians here in the USA? Look at Bush, he has said before that he has things on good accord from the Holy Ghost and where exactly has that gotten us? Now our country is basically at war with another religion, "islamic extremism". Why do so many people in this country think that it is important to vote in someone who will direct this country with a faith-based radar? Don't you understand that by pushing your views on others in trying to "spread your goodness" you are in effect, creating hatred and resentment against you? Don't you realize that you are really selling yourself out, that they are using your religion (which nobody here in America has a problem with, in and of itself) to pander to globalist movements to defeat us all? United we stand, divided we fall. The NeoCon agenda is for religion to take over the Republican party and use your religion as a ploy to get you to vote for funding this world empire.

    That's exactly what we have, an Empire, and a unjust one in many cases such as with our unyielding support for Israel over the Arabs. The sad thing is that you seriously still wonder why those horrible "terrorists" attacked us. Wake up! Most of the problems in this world are due to occupation, greed and fights between religious factions. It's always been that way!

    Ironically, by voting for those who can't keep their religion to themselves, you are pushing us closer to a situation like your "mark of the beast" in doing so. One has to wonder if the "Christian extremists" and/or NeoCons are doing this on purpose, in effect, trying to make the prophecies in your religion come true.

    Now don't get me wrong and think that I am anti-American or hostile towards you in any way. I am a real Patriot brother of yours and I would die for your right to practice that religion of yours. I am sorry if I come across as harsh, but people need to stop and think about the bigger picture in this world.

    You need to step outside your own ego and the corporate owned TV brainwashed mentality long enough to think for yourself.

    December 18, 2007 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  23. Jon, Weehawken, NJ

    He obviously dodged the question. He does not say yes or no. At worst, his response to this criticism is deceptive, at best, it is spin. How about a politician who simply tells the truth without any spin, or have we given up on that?

    December 18, 2007 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  24. Xrys, Savannah GA

    I don't like Huckabee, and I don't like his religion but seriously – that's totally not a cross and he can say Merry F-ing Christmas all he wants. The PC crowd need to shut-up.

    December 18, 2007 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  25. rick Austin Texas

    Christmas is what WE celebrate. If you believe in Christ, celebrate Christmas. No one said you have to put up a tree, no one invited you over to open presents, NO ONE FORCES YOU TO GO TO CHURCH. Seperation from church and state does not give you freedom from religion, it gives you the freedom to shout from the highest rooftops who you believe in. You can not say a president cannot tell the world they believe in Jesus. I want every President to say this out loud with joy. Jesus is a saviour and a great teacher with the first peaceful message on this planet that has lasted for 2000 years. Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
    I don't care if you don't believe in Jesus.
    Why do you care that others do?
    WE will all be having a MERRY CHRISTMAS, you univite yourself if you hate the message and the messenger.

    December 18, 2007 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
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