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. John G Charleston SC

    Are you guys serious? You're mad because he had a bookshelf that vaguely resembles a cross in his commercial?

    What about windows in houses? They usually have 2 pieces of wood (or whatever) CROSSing in the middle. And how did you get through first grade math class? Those pesky plus signs are obviously a product of the religious nut jobs who pull the strings of the Republican (Christian) party...

    With all of this Political Corectness weighing heavy on ym mind I say MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!!!!!!

    December 18, 2007 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  2. Rob, San Antonio, TX

    So now Governor Huckabee wants to put aside politics for a moment and focus on more important things like the true meaning of Christmas. Of course he's only interested in wishing a Merry Christmas to people in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Nothing political about that, for sure! What a phoney. Using Jesus to try and scrape up a few votes – coming from someone who recently said he hoped no one would vote for him just because he is a Baptist minister – is the ultimate hypocrisy.

    December 18, 2007 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  3. Anon

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

    What a ridiculous thing to say. I'm proud to live in a country where "we" means more than just "Christians who celebrate Christmas." I'm proud to live in a country where, if a candidate says something this idiotic, people will speak up.

    December 18, 2007 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  4. Keith Taylor

    I applaud Mr. Huckabee for taking his stand. It's time to take a stand in this country. Jesus is THE reason for the season. Thank you for not giving in to political correctness that has the nation in a mess!

    December 18, 2007 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  5. John, Kansas City, KS

    Would somebody be so kind as to show me where exactly in the Bible is says that Christmas occurs on December the 25th?!

    Anyone ... anyone?


    Christians set the holiday arbitrarily against the established Pagan tradition ... and then this country commercialized it – end of story, folks!

    December 18, 2007 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  6. Brian Tampa, FL

    Christmas is the name adopted by the US as a Federal Holiday so for all those who post "that is what you celebrate", it is also what YOU celebrate unless you discount the day entirely which if you have children I imagine most of you don't. It is not solely a religious holiday.

    December 18, 2007 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  7. James, Oviedo, FL

    Oh wait! The 3 balls on the bookshelf are the "Holy Trinity."

    December 18, 2007 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  8. Brian, Milwaukee, WI

    I hope it IS a cross! Why does that scare a small percentage of people? Christ died for your sins also. Merry Christmas!

    December 18, 2007 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  9. Danielle, Pensacola FL

    Well put. I agree one hundred percent. The whole point of the holiday season was and still is to celebrate Christmas. Call it what you want but it's still Christmas. Subliminal message? It's a bookshelf. Nothing more, nothing less. People are really reaching for straws and getting worked up over nothing. Don't we have more to be concerned with like our troops overseas, starving children here in our own country, falling economy, etc. etc.?

    December 18, 2007 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  10. Lilarose, So. Oregon

    I wonder if Jesus is rolling over in his grave about now. All this miserable B.S. and in his name!

    Huckabee will probably take a tour of the Holy Land and call that his Middle East policy.

    December 18, 2007 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  11. RJ, Denver, CO

    Some one should remind Huckabee that Christmas was orginally a pegan holiday hijacked by the Christians...

    December 18, 2007 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  12. Lee

    This is the lowest form of news. Cnn you should be ashamed of yourselves for sinking so low that this is news. I have watched the tape and as a non Christian it did not offend me. Let's also use terms such as subliminal correctly. Subliminal is defined as existing or operating below the threshold of consciousness; being or employing stimuli insufficiently intense to produce a discrete sensation but often being or designed to be intense enough to influence the mental processes or the behavior of the individual: After watching the commerical did anyone run out convert to Christianity and get Baptised. If you did well I am sure the US military has a front line position for you Iraq as well. Spend time covering real issues and try not to sensationalize. Thank you for your time.

    December 18, 2007 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  13. Marc G , Fleetwood, NC

    I saw the ad and did not think for a minute that it was a bookshelf. I saw only the cross...not very subliminal, somewhat like Mike. Besides, Mike, just like Jarred is a bit more than zealous in their product hawking.

    December 18, 2007 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  14. Erica, Kennesaw GA

    I completely agree with Jon, New Haven CT. It is concerning that politicians insist on mixing government and religion. People need to realize that America is changing and its people are changing as well. The U.S. is one of the most, if not the most, diverse country in the world. People need to respect other people's religions, whatever they may be. He has the right to wish people Merry "Christ Mass". On the other hand, to say "that is what we celebrate" is ridiculous and ignorant. Who is the "we" he is talking about anyways? Not only is it ignorant, but it is a stupid political move because he is seperating those who are not christians by saying those ridiculous comments.

    December 18, 2007 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  15. Andrew, Atlanta, GA

    Disguisting. Just because it is a federal holiday does not mean that everyone celebrates it. And just because someone celebrates it does not mean they celebrate it for the same reason as others. If this man can't recognize that there are other people in this country besides Christians, and that not all Christians are even the same, then he has no business being president. This is not "PC" as so many of you are fond of calling it, it's simple respect and helps avoid things like Holy Wars. It's bad enough Bush said that God wanted us to invade Iraq. Now I suspect that this man probably won't be any different.

    December 18, 2007 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  16. JB, Salt Lake City UT

    I doubt Mr. Huckabee attempted to use the bookshelf as a cross. But calling him kind in his ads is a mistake. His news interview just today responding to Romney's ad was the worst type of attack ad I have ever heard. The beginning of this ad made me shiver, he is a slick communications major – even if he quit his master's degree program! It says a lot about a man who can't finish something he starts. Simile Huckabee is not for me.

    December 18, 2007 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  17. Dee Villa, San Antonio, Texas

    Alright already! Christmas is Christmas. Just like Hanukah is Hanukah, etc., etc. Waiting to see the day when 4th of July will no longer be an American holiday since we will need to be careful not to offend (liberals are such wusses!!!!)people in this country who don't have their own holiday to celebrate THEIR country's freedom from Spain, France,Germany, etc., etc.

    December 18, 2007 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  18. Erik, La Quinta, CA

    You gotta be kidding me, right? Subliminal cross? Only liberal medias like CNN would be paranoid about stuff like that. (Why don't they send that footage to one of those paranormal reality series and people will really be spooked.) Wake up liberals, stop acting like idiots!
    MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND HAPPY HANNUKAH! (Oooh, you must be horribly offended by that, you must be writhing all over the floor!)

    December 18, 2007 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  19. John Allen, Boston MA

    I'm sick of this guy. First, by branding himself the Christian Candidate, he is using his religion as a qualification or a "test" for office. This is wrong. Second, his denial of this incident is appalling. That is absolutely NOT a normal bookshelf behind him. His act is getting old. He does controversial things, and then he laughs them off, saying they weren't intended. C'mon Huck, don't insult our intelligence. You could never beat the Democrats anyway. I'm voting for Romney.

    December 18, 2007 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  20. J, Cleveland, OH

    Of course its a cross.

    December 18, 2007 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  21. Stu, Crooked River Ranch, Oregon

    I really don't care whether the "cross" thing was deliberate or not. I do care about the "we" thing, since 17% of us are not Christian. If Mike Huckabee gets the Republican nomination–and God, I hope he does–he might take Mississippi and Alabama. Maybe South Carolina. Beyond that, the Democrats wipe him out. Despite the fact that 83% of this country is Christian, a majority of them do not someone to be our president who does not believe in evolution, who thinks women must seek only to serve the interests of their husbands, that the earth is 7000 years old and men and dinosaurs played togehter, that carbon dating is an atheist conspiracy, that all abortions should be outlawed and on and on and on. The vast majority of Americans disagree with Mr. Huckabee on every single one of these issues. The Democrats could run Daffy Duck and Huckabee would still lose. Despite what the evangelicals like Huckabee say, this is not a Christian country and the framers of the Constition certainly never intended it to be. If they had, there would be no Establishment Clause in the First Amendment. It is intersting to me that the people who belive the Second Amendment gives individuals the right to have guns, also believe that the country should be ruled by Christian values and that somehow this is not an affront to the First Amendment. I agree with the Second Amendment argument and I own guns. However, you cannot read one amendment literally and then add crap to another because it suits your religious beliefs. The fact that Jefferson, Washington, Adams, Hamilton and Hancock were Christian and believed in God means absolutely nothing. After all, if it hadn't been for Haym Salomon–a Jew–there would probably be no United States because he almost single-handedly financed our revolution by getting money from France and Holland at the request of George Washington. Washington's diary testifies to this-"that when money was needed for the Revolutionary War, you went to Haym Salomon." My guess is that Washington and the rest of our founders are rolling over in their graves.

    December 18, 2007 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  22. Josh, Chicago, Il

    So, 80 years ago...if this joker ran an ad that said there's a rason for women and black folk not being able to vote, it would be acceptable too.

    Is this a Presidential race, or a church rally? Mr. Huckabee, go take care of your dog killing son...and take a few science courses.

    December 18, 2007 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  23. Ema Nymton, Lebanon, TN

    The shelving in the background only vaguely resembles a cross-like structure. The 'T's in Political Ticker are more cross-like than that.

    Even so, wishing someone a Merry Christmas should not get hackles up any more than wishing someone a Merry Kwanzaa or a Happy Yule would. It is more a testament to the fractured nature of our society that everyone feels offended and left out if the holiday mentioned doesn't belong to their particular group, as if all other holidays are null and void but their own. To me, all holidays are just as valid as long as someone feels joy in celebrating them. If someone wishes a person happiness during (insert holiday here), that is an invitation not an exclusion.

    December 18, 2007 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  24. Bots, Seattle

    To Mr. Huckabee: FELIZ NAVIDAD!

    December 18, 2007 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  25. Mike Redlands,Ca

    How come the book shelf has no books?

    December 18, 2007 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
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