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. just a moderate

    Okay, look. Did he mess up? Hell yes. Nobody here is saying, "Wow, we love him MORE for saying that" Everybody is acknowledging he made a mistake, some are choosing to accept that sometimes remarks come out that really just make you want to sink into the floor, and some on here are choosing to remain angry. And you know what, thats fine....its just that, honestly, people make mistakes all the time. I know I've said something, hoping to be funny, but instead it came out quite wrong.

    On a final note, when people post about how "white people did this" "white people did that," THAT is a form of discrimination. No matter what, whether a person is of African, European, Asain, or Hispanic descent, we are all americans. Making generalized statements about "white people discriminating" is for the most part, untrue. Are there exceptions? Yes, and that is terrible. I agree. However, making generalized statements like that is a form of reverse discrimination.

    So please, view your neighbors as American, no matter what they look like!
    (Also, the more people blame white people for things, the "white people" just get defensive, then both sides are angry and the problem intensifies. Ending racial discrimination is something that people of every descent need to work on.)

    May 18, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  2. Trenton Sims, Los Angeles

    The Only thing worse that Hukabee could have possibly said is that Obama fell off a chair trying to avoid the LYNCHING noose in the back..

    A Very Sick Freudian Slip Mike..

    The Longer this goes the More Typical White People Slip and expose their True Colors..

    Sad ..just Pittyful...its 2008 and still all this White Hate...

    May 18, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  3. citizen

    Is it possible for Republicans to be civil?

    Man of God, I think not.....wolf in sheeps clothing more the case.

    By the way.....did the math.....the whole anti-christ thing. well he did come!... but Not Khadafi, or Saddam.....however he does have a job in the white house, he and crew are alive, well and doing there thing.

    Just check out their record so far

    May all those who have died, been tortured, robbed and lied to......may they not be forgotten.

    May 18, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  4. Danielle

    The reason why this is being blown up is because we all know a lot of Americans are racist and are capable of attacking the first Black President. It's ok to joke around but when you joke about shooting someone, the real question is whats the root of this joke. Deep down inside Huckabee might be racist, I thought he was a good guy as well, but what is done in the dark will come to light, and his true feelings are coming to light. His joke reminds me of a White man joking about hanging a Blk man...its not funny, real people have suffered and died. I bet if someone joked about shooting Bush, it would be a completely different story.

    Furthermore, as a Christian man, he should have known better....

    May 18, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  5. Gomer Pile Scum Bag!!!

    There was absolutely nothing funny about that joke....what the h&%* was he thinking. The point is alot of people fear for Obama's life and believe that something like this could really happen.

    May 18, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  6. Len

    Mike & Hillary are all-both-together-completely right about OBAMA.
    Hillary Clinton is what's left of a great Democratic process and a responsible party of Democrats. Since all three of these candidates have frosted the cake, enlarged their pictures and claimed bragging rights the real truth lies in what words (were) are intentionally said: spoken with forethought and worth repeating. Kudos of compliments to Senator Hillary Clinton on all three. She is a great example of what a President of these United States should be.

    May 18, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  7. Ellie

    And where exactly is CNN, NBC, ABC on this? No-one ignored the issue with Rev Wright so now why is Huckabee getting off easy for this insenstive, rude and downright insulting comment!!!!! Shame on you Huckabee-I'm glad you're out of the running. Although I like McCain and may possibly vote for him-I will not, if Huckabee is his running mate.

    May 18, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  8. Bridgette

    I really do believe he was just trying to crack a terrible joke. Atleast that is what I am telling myself. He just wants to be on the national stage. But for some reason I don't think he was trying to be a racisist.

    May 18, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  9. Over it

    I could not believe he said that... I am disappointed in him and he calls himself a man of God.

    May 18, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  10. Ben

    Hucks, give me two more days, you need to be tested. fellows, Pastor Hucks need to be tested...............................he deserves one bullet.......... ensure you dont give him more than one.................. go boys

    May 18, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  11. Daniel Hutchinson

    It is not enough to say that this was an incredibly stupid, idiotic thing to do. But to realize that Huckabee's mind automatically went to this image of someone pointing a gun at Obama tells volumes about what goes on in Huckabee's unconscious mind. Or as my preacher dad used to say quoting the Bible: "From the heart, the mouth speaketh." And this is just the tip of the iceberg of bigotry and fear of "others" that the Republican party has fostered for its own political gain. As far as I'm concerned, the current crop of Republicans have destroyed the party and are beyond redeeming.

    May 18, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  12. Bruce

    Shame on You! Typical of the GOP. Same old politics, same old lines. I want something new next time.

    May 18, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  13. Jean M Fevry Calgary Alberta

    If it was Obama who made this stupid joke the media would be all over him .

    Also this is just to see how low some members of the Republican party are becoming.

    Georges Bush is no better than McCain and HucK OR BEE after his silly speech in Israel.

    May 18, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  14. Frances

    I think we put to much into what these people say. If that comment was made using bill clinton or john mccain name the media and bloggers would have let it fly. They are playing into our own biases. Trying to get a rise or a story. They make me sick.

    May 18, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  15. nwa

    if you kill this one (obama) there wont be a corner of this country left unburned, and 10th of thousand white people will be killed.a race war
    everybody knows huckabubba is a racist bigot ignorant pinkneck....

    May 18, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  16. Asian Guy

    That was a stupid remark..similar to what Bush said the other day about rise in food prises due to growth in food consumption in India & china.

    Anyone who has such a loose tongue is a big risk to be a vice president.

    Democrats are entitled to make it a big issue as thats what the republicans did for Obama's bitter ppl remarks & michelle's first time pride remarks !!!..This is game of politics..

    May 18, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  17. Mike

    Anyone who has ever attempted to make a joke can sympathize here. Whether you like Huckabee or not, anyone can see that he's not a racist.

    No it wasn't funny, yeah Huckabee knew it. Thats what happens when you aren't reading off a script. Just let it go and focus on the things that matter. Or we can just say he's a jerk and act like we've never said something that we had to kick ourselves over afterward.

    May 18, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  18. avoiceinthewind

    I'm an Obama supporter. Mike Huckabee is a stand up guy. This was truely just a mistake. I really hope that this era of catching people verbal gaffs and mistakes goes away. It is starting to get sickening. It doesn't allow politicians to be real people. They have to constantly parse what they say. That's not good for anyone. I think the Don Imus thing started this whole crazy foolishness. Let's just stop and get on with what we should really care about. Getting our troops whom, killing Bin Ladin, peace in the middle east, lower gas prices etc. This is foolishness.

    May 18, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  19. Call it down the middle

    Good old GOP humor! I'd rather peel off my toenails than listen to these goofs. Mike your a pastor or minister or whatever you call yourself (even though you don't act like one), stick to the sermons and leave the jokes to George Carlin ok. Your sense of humor is worse than your sense of judgement. Obama AND Hillary have courage as they are trying to enact change. At least they are standing up to oil companies, big business, and the washington lobbiest. Mac man is business as usual, he'll be the NRA's little puppet. Its sad to see such a heroic man, become some rich companies puppet.

    What's with the NRA anyway. I own a gun, but why do people join a club because they buy something? Is your life so bankrupt that you join a club because you bought something. I'm just trying to understand. Is there a political group for super soft toliet paper? I purchased that not too long ago, but I don't see the toliet paper people trying to get clout in Washington.

    May 18, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  20. truthfully

    This stupid mistake for a joke by Huckabee was unexcusable. For someone who calls themself a Christian, who is supposed to love EVERYONE regardless of who they are or what they do, that was completely unexcusable. He may not be a racisist, but he certainly made a very racially pointed joke that was shocking and unacceptable in this day.

    May 18, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  21. Don

    Hey Dumocraps . . . BOO ! ! !

    May 18, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  22. PeterK

    For republicans hanging a noose is a prank and suggesting shooting the first real contender black president is benign...This is a very sad joke. I actualy had some respect for the man until this episode

    May 18, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  23. "i-s" is

    Mr. Huckabee didn't mean any harm with this comment, and the audience should be praised for allowing his comments to fall on death ears. Did you hear how silent the audience became? Mr. Huckabee's comments can be categorized as tasteless and thoughtless, but not necessarily racist. His comments could have been tastelessly and thougtlessly made about any candidate or person. Intellectually, this is a "benign" story; however, few things are one dimensionally. Emotionally, historically, racially, etc. it may not be benign, but in the end, I believe, it was simply a mistake. And for those whom it may matter to, I am a 44-year old Black man raised in a racist deep south Georgia city.

    May 18, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  24. TEXAS

    The only republican that I used to respect, wow he really let his true colors show I’m so disappointed!!!
    OBAMA 08

    May 18, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  25. EE

    The fact that the comment was of so little importance to you that you forgot you said it leads me to believe it's something that is a part of
    you. It was a deplorable comment to make. Take responsibility
    for the blunder(if it was a blunder)and do not blame bloggers. Fine choice
    you make for a Repugnant VP.

    May 18, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
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