May 18th, 2008
01:05 PM ET
13 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. Chukwuma Onyemkpa - Brussels

    This man HUCKABEE was a pastor..and look at the trash that came out of his mouth.

    I believe this was how KKK Hench men joked about shooting Martin Luther King Jr. until they eventually found a way to do it!!!!

    ...the next thing... he will be joking about a noose hanging around Barack's neck!!!!

    May 18, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  2. Tony, Wilton, ME

    Right out of the RNC playbook.

    Be completely outrageous, then apologize "if I offended anyone."

    He also thinks McCain's attempt at humor by doing a Beach Boys song with new words was fa "hoot."

    I really think McCain should choose Huckabee to be his Veep – then after the election both can slink off to Vegas to do vaudeville for the pink Cadillac crowd.

    May 18, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  3. DV

    The thing is, that on no planet was that joke funny. I think Huckabee is a stand up guy most of the time, nutty on issues, but funny and pleasant. I was blown away by the idiocy of this joke. It doesn't matter much that it was Obama, but a joke about someone hitting the floor when a gun is pointed at him.

    How is that funny?


    May 18, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  4. km

    He didn't make it any better on Russet today...said all candidates say stupid stuff. Likened it to McCain's bomb, bomb, bomb Iraq and added that he thought that was pretty funny.

    May 18, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  5. Najee from la, cali

    i dont think huckabee should have apologized... why apologize for something that u said when you truly feel it? do i agree with his stupid little "joke"? not at all... as a young black man and seeing all of my leaders and close friends gunned down is no joking matter... not in the least.... but an insincere apology is a slap in the face to top it off

    May 18, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  6. Lynn D

    I think that Governor Huckabee may have had a vision of what may happen if Senator Obama becomes the nominee.

    May 18, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  7. Mimi De La Cruz for OBAMA



    May 18, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  8. trudy

    This kind of joke cannot be taken lightly because for one if another candidate had said such a thing to another candidate it is still threatening and serious. He is saying he did not mean it but what comes out from his mouth is a reflection of his heart yet he is no more running for president.Ok i see he wants to appease McCain for Vp. He should go to his house and rest. No vp for him. Such joke is too serious.

    May 18, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  9. MBFLA

    Another Bush Christian. Very scary. These guys are preoccupied with killing those with whom they disagree.

    May 18, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  10. Obama is the one!

    Wow, this presidential race has pulled the sheet off of the racsim that still runs very deep in this country.

    May 18, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  11. Sick at my stomach

    Huckabee's comment was horrible and saying it was "benign" is even worse. Unfortunately, such a horrendous act is possible, and joking about it is unthinkable. Even the NRA members seemed to realize this was over the top. Huck, be man enough to be truly humble here and don't defend your comment at all. Go personally to Obama and ask forgiveness.

    May 18, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  12. Elias

    This not about Hackabee is mabout republican and what they are about to. We are tired of stupid comment from leader and later one say they are sorry, i dont think hackabee is a small baby he knew what he was talking about Bye see later you fool.

    May 18, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  13. Jose

    'You' can have your popular Anglo conformity majority, let it be your mainstreet and your wallstreet, but smash "your " DOUBLEstandards.

    May 18, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  14. The Lone Ranger



    May 18, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  15. Chipster

    Bad joke, not the least bit funny. However, those who are claiming it is racist need to explain what was racist about it. I'm really tired of people claiming racism every time anyone says anything about Obama that falls short of praise.

    If the GOP selects Huckabee as its VP candidate after this terrible comment, they might as well pack up their toys and go home because they are really done after this tasteless and frightening "joke."

    May 18, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  16. Matt

    Maybe one of his hunting buddies will be the next Dick Chainey on one of their trips....never know....

    May 18, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  17. Audrey

    Sweetie is not worst Elizabeth. To joke about someone getting shot or having a gun pointed at them is far worst then that. You should never joke about killing someone and especially not someone running to be president of the U.S. We all should be more thoughtful of what we say. Even the Bible says we should be careful of our words.

    May 18, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  18. Annamica, OH

    It's amazing how people who vote for Obama cries racist at anyone who doesn't like the man. This includes those caucasians who think by supporting a mixed man somehow revokes all the horrors that were perpetuated by the slaver owners of America's past: IT DOESN'T.

    Voting Obama makes you no less racist. Sorry.

    May 18, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  19. Go Barak and Michelle Obama!

    Kinda reminds me of the McCain joke.. you know the one about stepping on those land-mind thingies? Ltd's or something like that..sure someone here knows what I'm referring to.

    May 18, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  20. Paul

    absolutely tasteless

    May 18, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  21. obamacrat

    Exit stage left. Don't want to see u anymore this campaign season or ever Huckabee.

    I don't even think he should have apologized. If that what so easily comes out of his trap... It must be how he really feels.

    That's why Obama's campaign didn't even respond to that garbage.


    May 18, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  22. Kim, Dallas, TX

    Huckabee was trying to be funny and took things way too far. I am sure he is really a good person, but he needs to do something to get his image back. I struggle with a joke that others could take seriously. We are living in a time that resembles the sixties as it is. Who needs another Bobby Kennedy situation? Obama is a great person and will become a great leader. Let's not enccourage the "redneck" population, or others with such racist hatred to do something that would appear 'funny" to the Republicans. I have been worried about Obama and the ignorance that some people have.

    Obama 08!!

    May 18, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  23. obamacrat



    May 18, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  24. obamacrat

    Seems like most of the folks there were clinging to their guns and their ignorance.

    May 18, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  25. Joe White


    Shootin' them uppity blacks who want to run for office!

    Now that's FUNNY, Mike! You should be on SNL instead of McCain!

    We had a lot of fun during reconstruction doing just that. You should'a seen the expression on their family's faces when we blew the heads off some freed slave who thought all this talk about emancipation was real! What were they thinkin', running for office. Doncha know there's a POLL TAX?

    Well, 'ol Jim Crow set them straight, and I for one am glad to see that MIKE HUCKABEE is going to take us back to OLD FASHIONED VALUES that made our country strong!

    See you at the next KLAN MEETING, Mike!

    May 18, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
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