May 18th, 2008
01:05 PM ET
15 years ago

Huckabee: 'Lousy joke' but 'pretty benign issue'


Watch Huckabee's joke at the NRA Convention Friday. (starting at 0:50).

(CNN) - Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, known for his razor-sharp humor on the campaign trail, has again found it can be a double-edge sword, as he spent a third day explaining his admittedly “awkward” quip about Senator Barack Obama.

Huckabee talked to reporters Saturday after addressing graduates at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia. Not surprisingly, the first question was about Friday’s joke at the NRA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, about the Democratic presidential front-runner. It came up again Sunday in his appearance on “Meet the Press”.

After a loud noise back stage during his speech Friday, Huckabee joked, “That was Barack Obama. He just tripped off a chair. He’s getting ready to speak and somebody aimed a gun at him, and he dove for the floor.” The audience, who laughed as he started the line, turned quiet.

In his news conference Saturday, Huckabee acknowledged the line was a mistake. “It was a simple thing of an incredible distraction that happened somewhere backstage”, he said, “I made a rather awkward attempt at a joke, wasn’t all that great. I’ve apologized for it. I didn’t mean to offend anybody. I didn’t even remember having said it. I honestly had to go back and look at the tape.”

The former Arkansas Governor said the controversy over the line has been blown out of proportion. He told reporters, “I think if people go back and look at the actual moment they’ll realize that it’s not nearly as much of a thing as some bloggers have attempted to make it to be. So all I would say is let people go back and look at what actually happened, and I think it’s a pretty benign interview.”

Huckabee drew big laughs often as a candidate for his lines in debates and on the stump, even making an appearance on “Saturday Night Live” that received great reviews. But other times, his humor could raise some eyebrows. CNN producer Evan Glass, who traveled with the candidate in Iowa, recalled Huckabee joking during a hunting photo where his group bagged three pheasants, “don’t get in my way. This is what happens.” (It should be noted the joke was prompted by a reporter’s prodding for a metaphor.)

soundoff (378 Responses)
  1. Sandra in Oh

    That was not a Racist comment. It was a comment about a competitor. These guys need bodyguards round the clock anyway. Why puck every comment out as Racist!.
    God made different species and races. They are naturally leary of each other as an instinctive thing. Tribes have been waring since creation because someone who looked a little different from your own could be a threat. So poo on the word Racist that is just an excuse for troublemaking. God made us all and when we are face to face, prove you are good and trustworthy. Then I don't care if you are pink or turquoise.
    Also, McCain too old? If 60 is the new 40 then 71 is the new 51. Maybe he will live to be 109..

    May 18, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  2. Femi

    I wouldn't take the joke personally and I think Obama is of the sameopinion. It's just that to throw such a joke under the current sircumstances is pretty lame. Bad tast and especially unexpected from a minister of religion. Remember, an agent of change was actually gunned down – MLK.

    More judgement is needed

    May 18, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  3. EJ in MD

    It saddens me to hear DEMOCRATS say that they will vote for McCain! He does not share the same values as us democrats! I know that may HRC supporters are upset that she is losing, but don't take your anger out on Obama. He has not done anything wrong. They have both campaigned hard and he simply received more votes. He has not stolen anything from HRC nor blocked votes on FL and MI. We have got to unite and and realize who the real enemy is - THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!

    May 18, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
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