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. Jan From Boca Raton, Fl

    Huchabee was just making a joke, but the Obama campaign blew
    it all out of context as usual to get attention..

    Obama people need to quit whinning.

    May 18, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  2. Montana is Obama Country

    "I honestly had to go back and look at the tape.” When people say this means they are Lying...

    To bad for Huckebee.. I think his minimizing is very disrepsectful. He should own up.........with less excuses..

    Huckabee looks like an....... "appeaser".......

    New Poll: ...80% of Americans say America is on the wrong track.. With comments like this I can agree .. We..Need..Change...


    May 18, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  3. Overseas Bratha

    The wolf has come out of the sheep's clothing ... He never was the decent guy he made himself out to be. B is spot on ....

    May 18, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  4. Doreen Augusta Maine

    I can't believe Huckabee - he doesn't see a problem with his stupid, ignorant remarks. He has certainly shown his colors. He was on Meet The Press this morning as one of the press commentators - Meet the Press had better never have him on again. Let this man spread his Republican, narrow-minded viewpoints somewhere else. What is it about these people - how can they possibly be so ignorant?

    May 18, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  5. Huckleberry_is_a_lunatic

    This "Gomer Pyle" is nothing but another bible-thumpin', rifle yielding, sex deprived republican. They suck in bed so they turn to religon and guns for solice. Let's ship him back to Mayberry where he belongs.

    May 18, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  6. Independent

    There is no excuse for that statement. Anyone could have come up with a more tasteful off the cuff remark. I no longer respect Gov. Huckabee. If he is McCains choice, that will put another nail in the Republicans coffin.

    May 18, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  7. Tim from Ohio

    This is only a diversion from the real issues. Yes, Huckabee made a mistake and apologized, and I appreciate that. However, Nobama hasn't apologized for all of his ill sayings. He is disgusting. His candidacy for president has done more to hurt race relations than to help it.

    May 18, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  8. lizzie

    Terry in Fl: Obama hasn't complained about the joke. However, I take exception to it. I thought it was in poor taste. Doesn't mean Obama can't be joked about, but some jokes just fall flat. This one sure did.

    May 18, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  9. Leslie of Garden Grove, CA

    People just cannot fathom that an amazing man like Obama, CAN and WILL win the white house come November.

    Roosevelt, Kennedy, Obama...the tide will turn. Bring on the revolution!

    May 18, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  10. kwasi Koo

    I thought this guy was a man of faith...a preacher? This shows how racist america is....for a to be president making just joke and to lie that he could not even remember making or maybe the republicans are evil! ....and he wanted to be president? How can a presidential candidate utter such words? here is an inward look at the rebulican party....these guys are haters, fear mongers...anmd would say and do anything to be popular...or win votes or stay in power.....this is very fearful.....i just cannot believe someone like this guy will say such a thing....

    May 18, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  11. MT

    It is not a joke... This is what republicans have in their mind!!! Remember 1960s... That is how they treat fellow americans who are ideologically against them...

    May 18, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  12. Sa from MI

    Seriously, was he trying out for Last Comic Standing?? – bad joke – thow him out of the stage.

    May 18, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  13. jennym

    Huckabee - sit sown – you are no longer running. You are not a comic. This was NOT funny and NOT benign. I can't believe you are still on TV . and this remark hopefully put your VP aspirations in the trash.

    May 18, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  14. Y

    A black man running for President in a racist country is one of the boldest things a person can do. Obama has proven himself to be a strong leader. As a strong leader he's been able to look beyond the childish, immature behavior of some citizens, turn the other cheek and continue to lead. Obama is doing America a favor by running for President. It's time for America to grow up.

    May 18, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  15. kathe oakland, california

    To all you Americans who say if Hillary/Bill are not nominee you will vote republican????? Guess what, you were never really American Democrats if you will give us your party because of your racist attitudes about a man of color as your commander-in-chief. That is what it says about all of you and I feel very sorry for you all that you would endure another 4 yrs of same old Bush politics just not to vote for a black man or even vote independent.
    And those of you who keep refering to Obama as unamerican, racist, and all that "crap" – you were never going to vote for him in first place. Your ignorance is evident by your totally insane comments. The world is changing and you are not ready for the future. I feel sorry for all of you who will not vote for reasons of one being a female, one being black – you have no clue about the future of this country, this world –
    whether you like it or not, whether you vote or not, whether you live or die CHANGE IS COMING THANK GOD


    May 18, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  16. Funkemariechen

    The NRA is a joke.
    C'mon America, it's 2008 ...

    May 18, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  17. Chris

    Huckabee, is that kind of joke the same that Jesus would make? Hypocrite! Out of the way, racist and ignorant Republicans...the Dems are on our way to take back this nation!

    May 18, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  18. Juan Grain

    With the single split second sound of a crashing fold up chair, Vise Presidential wanna-be Mike Huckabee vomited his true nature onto the ears of prominent members of the NRA. Huckabee has given new meaning to the term "speaking in tongues". He might consider an inventory of his soul, or was he auditioning for the star role in Liar Liar part II.

    A man is his thoughts manifest, and our truest self is that which requires the least control. How many times has he preached that a man that does not bridle the tongue is like a ship without a ruder being tossed to and fro with every gust of wind. And then to wait concerning an apology for the polls to indicate that he has lost favor with many that considered him a "good guy" and now question and are grateful that he did not advance further in his quest for the Republican nomination.

    Yes Mike Huckabee, there is a God and he has lifted the curtain on you, or at the very least "You can tell a tree by it's fruit" and your fruits clearly indicate a fundaMENTAL flaw that needs not be anywhere near public office in a free nation.

    May 18, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  19. Steve

    The joke was stupid. As a black man hopping this does not happen to Obama for real I got chills when I heard it. But come on people, this guy is not a bad man. I know a lot of good men who make stupid jokes all the time. From what I saw of him during this campaign, I think he has a good soul. Too good in fact to be a republican. That's why they took McCain over him. Thank God for us!

    Obama 08

    May 18, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  20. SS

    We tend to forget the things we don't want to remember. What you said was a spontaneous reaction to your thought processes. Perhaps it was joke you shared with your buddies prior to you getting up and speaking.


    May 18, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  21. Janet, Pa., via Toronto

    Sometimes the mouth is quicker than the mental capacity!

    That was a joke????TEE HEE

    May 18, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  22. Bob Yamtich

    I am very scared because I want safety for all people. I hope for a world where nobody is afraid of being shot. A strategy to move closer to this is for people to stop shooting people, and also to stop joking about it. I ask for Mike Huckabee and all gunowners to sign an agreement stating thier hopes that Barack has a long and fulfilling life.

    May 18, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  23. oletu form denmark

    the republican party has lost its focus and it no suprise that many of them can alter all sort of nonsense that is very offencive and dengerous to the american people.

    May 18, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  24. Chuck

    Why would the mind of a preacher spontaneously think of saying something like that? Could it be that it was instilled in him since birth. Bigotry and racism are hard to break, even coming from a man of the cloth. Shameful.

    May 18, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  25. Susie

    I suppose if you work really hard you can misconstrue this comment as racial. Obama has misconstrued everything the Clintons have said into racial comments. Obama has made this campaign racial-all those small-town white folks who will not vote for me are gun-toting, Bible-thumping bigots. Maybe he even believes this statement; maybe he is the racist; maybe he simply does not understand the way of life of small-town Americans who base their life on belief in God and nature (hunting). Clearly, anyone who believes they have had a hard time paying $10K for piano and ballet lessons for their daughters cannot understand people who can see how $70 could make a real difference in their lives.

    I am a Democrat; I have voted for every Democratic nominee for President since Carter. I voted for Carter twice and still believe that Carter is a wonderful man. However, Carter was the most ineffective President I can remember. Obama simply cannot understand our way of life and the best I can believe about him as President is that he would be as ineffective as Carter.

    May 18, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
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