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. terry , kenner, la.

    The words Christ-Mass are Catholic. It's the feast of celebration for Christ's birth day. Hence the word Christmas. Another Catholic example is Michaelmas, Sep 29, the feast day for Archangel Michael. Christmas is the main feast day of ther year, but it's the secular people who have turned it into this overblown, crassly commercial day of excess and gluttony. Now the same secular people are complaining when people brought up in the Catholic tradition wish each other a joyous Christmas !

    December 19, 2007 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  2. Daniel, NY

    The latest Iowa poll has Huckabee sliding a bit, and now back in a toss-up with Mitt Romney. This is proving an explosive month indeed. Link.

    December 19, 2007 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  3. Anne CouLtier,N.C

    He looks like Gomer Pyle.I trusted Gomer.So I will vote for him.

    December 19, 2007 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  4. Mario Uy Streamwood IL

    Hey people! Be nice to Huck. Or God will punish you.

    CNN, if you do not publish this, God will punish you too.

    Merry Christmas to all...I mean to all Christians only!

    December 19, 2007 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  5. Bazil, Canada

    I didn't even read anything in this article except the headline and the picture caption. All I have to say is that anyone who even cares about this is completely ridiculous.

    December 19, 2007 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  6. Mario Uy Streamwood IL

    To all people who said they are not part of the "we" when Huck said "this is what we celebrate." You are right. He was not referring to you. He was only referring to him and me. Yeah, just the two of us ol' buddies. What made you think he was talking about you???

    December 19, 2007 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  7. stunnedsilence

    The bandwagon effect, also known as social proof and closely related to opportunism, is the observation that people often do (or believe) things because many other people do (or believe) the same. The effect is often pejoratively referred to as herding instinct, particularly as applied to adolescents. Without examining the merits of the particular thing, people tend to “follow the crowd”. The bandwagon effect is the reason for the bandwagon fallacy’s success. Huckabee being the savy politician he is has no delusions as to who his demographic is in Iowa. He will say anything short of, ” the only person that can help a hick in Iowa is a hick his self”. And if he thought thought the evangelical center of the Iowa republicans would buy it, he would say it. Suffice to his saying that he is the “Christian candidate” and that he is choice of the disenfranchised underdogs of the country, this Elmer Gantryish candidate will do only one thing for Iowans, insure that their third choice in the republican nomintion gets nominated. Namely,Rudy Giuliani,because once he runs out of evangelicals he is toast. Or maybe Rudy Giuliani’s running mate. Oh well, same difference.On that note by all means forget about politics and have very merry Christmas,and a happy New Huckabee,"erm" New Year, sorry for the freudian slip

    December 19, 2007 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  8. Shawnie - Grants Pass, OR

    Whether purposeful or not, the bookcase is neatly centered in the video, framed on the left by a Christmas tree and framed on the right by Huck-a-been's head.

    December 19, 2007 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  9. Jackson

    "Plausible deniability" is exactly what it is.

    December 19, 2007 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  10. Will, OKC, OK

    Conservatives love to say that the Constitution is not there to protect the government from religion, but to protect religion from the government.

    The only problem is that if one religion becomes the dominant ideology in the government, the policy will eventually reflect only that view and it will be easier to persecute other religions in the name of whatever faith currently controls the government.

    December 19, 2007 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  11. Anonymous

    I would think that the shape that our country is in, these people could find something more important to talk about than whether or not the bookshelf looks like a cross. It is a bookshelf!!! Also, I am proud to know that there is a man of Huckabee's quality willing to take on the challenge of the mess he will inherit if he becomes President. Whoever wins the election will need our prayers for guidance for him to get us straightened out. As for the "cross", it is a big part of Christmas. If it were not for Christmas there wouldn't have been a need for the cross. They kind of go hand in hand. One is the celebration of Christ's life and the other is a symbol of his death. Get real people and find something good to say instead of looking for something negative. There is not one of us that is perfect and Huckabee comes closer than any of the other candidates. If he gets elected there won't be any Presidential scandal for at least 4 yrs. unless you dream up another stupid scheme to discredit the person.

    December 19, 2007 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  12. Mike, Birmingham, AL

    I think Huckabee is glad that people are so focused on his religion and not focusing on his horrible history as a politician.

    December 19, 2007 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  13. Barry, Miami, FL

    Geez, people give the guy a break. I'm a screaming liberal and I'm not put off by it. Last time I checked, there were really big problems going on in the world these days that merit our attention, not this non-issue.

    December 19, 2007 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  14. Tom, Texas

    Sinderbrand and Brusk assert that "critics" "said" the "bookshelf" was a "subliminal message".
    "[C]ritics"? Who are these "critics"? The same kook fringe freaks who said that the George Bush ran an ad with a "subminal message" when the screen cut off the word "Democrat" and revealed only the letters "C", "R", "A" and "T", and said kooks "thought" that was a "subliminal message" involving a different word, to wit: the word "RATS"? God, please help us if those fools actually vote in elections and cancel the votes of the normal human being community.

    December 19, 2007 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  15. Mike, Lyndhurst, NJ

    Thank you CNN for inserting the Governor's comments without proper context. There are several people who have written comments complaining that he said "last time I checked that is what we celebrate." Unfortunately, those people have failed to watch the video otherwise they'd realize that those comments were in response to a reporter's follow-up question in which she said "I think the problem they have is that you talked about the birth of Christ" (as opposed to Christmas). Huckabee was making the simple fact that Christmas is the birth of Christ. His statement did not mean that the whole country celebrates it. Readers should watch the video or CNN should be responsible enough to post the full context. Be responsible people. Oh, and Merry Christmas. 😉

    December 19, 2007 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  16. Tre 20 New York, New York

    I'm definitely not voting for him, but i'll defend him on this one. Why would he need a SUBLIMINAL Christian message when he is broadcasting a CHRISTMAS themed commercial?

    December 19, 2007 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  17. John, Fairfield, CT

    This is typically how these politicians work – subliminally and through control and fear. There is only one politician that has the integrity not to stoop to these dirty tricks. . .

    Ron Paul is hands-down the most intelligent, honest man to ever run for president in modern history. He has a comprehensive and extensive understanding of history, finance, foreign policy, and the constitution. Americans should be proud to have him as president. What a difference from your current president (who is ALREADY being remembered as an embarrassment and the dumbest U.S. president ever).

    December 19, 2007 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  18. Phil, Kalamazoo MI

    You have to be kidding me. This is what CNN wastes time "reporting?" Give me a break

    December 19, 2007 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  19. Michael Brown , Hagerstown, Md

    Yeah, And I suppose Huckabees' red sweater means he's really the Anti-Christ in disguise... gimme and the rest of America a break!!

    December 19, 2007 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  20. brandon, st. peters mo

    The Reason for the Season ISN'T Jesus.

    Sorry This season was already taken, enjoy it if you wish – but remember your place.
    Posted By Dave, Kansas KS : December 18, 2007 6:41 pm


    I say this in humility and with no intention to spite you. . . . .Jesus loves you. I hope that this season he will somehow show you this fact. Again, i say this in full humility and with respect of your beliefs. I hold no corner in the 'morality market' I am as crusty and nasty as could be but he continues to save me anyway. God pursues us. . . even when I/you have nothing to pursue. . . .

    well,cnn, here ya go. . . .i dare you to post it.

    December 19, 2007 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  21. Kyle, Baltimore

    MERRY CHRISTMAS! This is OUR country, get used to it.

    December 19, 2007 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  22. Eric M.

    It is good to be noticed, what a difference a few polls make? They once ignored him, then they laughed at him, now they are fighting him. When this guy (i.e. Huckabee)was at the battom of the pack anybody hardly paid attention to anything he said. Now everything–literaly everything–he said or does is being scrutinized to minuscule delails. Romney and company have to relax! Stop this useless political insurgency against your fellow candidate and engage in a more conventional political fight–that is, if you got teeth!

    December 19, 2007 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  23. Marty Pacino Chicago IL

    I am starting to like this guy more and genius... is Karl Rove behind this? Mitt Romney has been checkmated.

    December 19, 2007 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  24. Richard Glencoe IL

    Just goes to show you, they are all base politicians. Remove the masks, the slogans, the polished spin and they crave power. "Compassionate conservatism", "benign neglect" just words to lull into thinking these men and women lust for power. And all will tell you whatever it is you want to hear just give them the power. They will find the justification. Ron Paul, Romney, McCain and Obama are just politicians.
    This controversy over an real or imagined cross is giving Huckabee free time and time to make further in-roads to the conservative christian right, the same people who brought you 8 years of George W. Bush. ugh!

    December 19, 2007 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  25. Kris in Atlanta

    There are no coinciences in politics. And its this same type of shameless religious exploitation that not only alienates people from the churches, but also reminds us just how arrogant some Chrisitians are in essentially forcing their views on the general public.Huckabee as president equals religious extremism in every aspect of our federal government. The Chrisitan version of Iran.

    December 19, 2007 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
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