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. marie c

    Why is everything about race now??? By the way, the "magic number" is now 2210. Count Michigan and Florida completely or even Michigan may not vote Democratic in Nov. 2210!!!!!!! 2210!!!!!

    May 18, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  2. Rita Miller

    Is this a joke of a Christian man? Funny, I never read about Jesus using these tactics. Mike Huckabee is simply too redneck and uneducated to put on national TV. He is an ugly man.

    May 18, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  3. Antoine (Canada)

    Huckabee said "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."

    But the headline says "pretty benign issue." Please correct. Thanks!

    That was a very clumsy statement he made. Yes, he's a good man, and didn't have any bad intentions, but it goes to show how much the Republicans are willing to spin, and take advantage of the uninformed, "patriotic" gun-owners. Obama has to be ready to counter-attack these attacks from Rove, Romney, and McCain.

    May 18, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  4. Jack

    Let's get over this, shall we?

    Huckabee is a genuine guy and I don't think he meant any harm

    May 18, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  5. JJ from Arizona

    Huckabee is right. He knows it was a bad joke, he said sorry. Let it go. Haven't any of you made a joke and accidentally put your foot in your mouth? It's ok, Mike, no biggie.

    May 18, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  6. James

    It wasn't funny, nor smart politcally. If Huckabee is chosen to be McCain's running mate, this little joke will come back to haunt him.

    May 18, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  7. Florida Sounds Awful

    "I'm already seeing the racial dischord in my area."

    For some reason I feel like "your area" is hardly representative of the United States. Just a hunch.

    May 18, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  8. J.S.

    Karma has a special plan for Huckabee, Bush, Rice and especially Rumsfeld and Cheney. They will pay in the end.

    May 18, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  9. Vig

    It's too bad John McCain is a Republican and will keep the war going because I like him as a person much better than smiley face, superfical Obama. McCain is down to earth, has a sense of humor, has a life experience that has made him substantative as a person. But I can't take the Republican policies and 4 more years of Bush-like leadership. So if Obama gets the nomination, I am going to sit out the November elections. I won't be casting my vote for a "celebrity candidate" which Obama has become.

    May 18, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  10. Mike

    Good old boy humor from a Southern Baptist preacher-politician. As American demographics change people like Huckabee become less relevant in the political landscape. Their day is over and it's long past due. Now is the time for enlightened thinking to emerge and lead this country.

    May 18, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  11. judasgoat

    no this to me was no joke he stood in front of the n.r.a. a gun club and made that joke , he felt at ease huckabee was w/ his ilk a.k.a. the good ol boys and he let his hair down . which only goes to show a persons true colors in other words, THEIR REAL FEELINGS .look at the equation; white male from the southern region where racism festered for generations AND EVEN TO THIS DAY. you throw a rock hide your hand . then say i'am sorry. NO; THE DAMAGE IS DONE. no telling how many deranged , demented people out there WHO HATE THE THOUGHT of a black/white man being the first president of color. no your sorry is NOT ACCEPTED. you have upped the stakes of putting this man life at risk.

    May 18, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  12. Kenneth M.

    White people can always make life altering statements for others right off the cuff. Its part of the privlage we live with. Oops did that happen cause I said that. Oh well, whats next on our list?

    May 18, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  13. About Time

    I like the guy. He is a republican with a heart. The comment he made was grossly irresponsible. If you don't know what to say, don't say anything. Stick to your written speach.

    May 18, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  14. j smith

    If this was a lame attempt to portray Senator Obama as a cowrad, I'd respectfully like to ask Mr. Hukjabee, if some aimed a gun at you, what would you do?

    May 18, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  15. Obama is the Man

    Obama is no coward He will be our next President.

    May 18, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  16. Janel, St. Paul, MN

    It was a thoughtless remark, and I can't understand where it came from, nor do I want to.

    But Huckabee asked for forgiveness, and Obama–a Christian man–will do so.

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

    I'm willing to bet that Obama has had a significant amount of death threats, and to say something as dumb as this.

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

    He didn't even remember saying it, and we worry about what McCain might forget!!! HE thought he would get great laughs and he made a fool of himself, just another loser trying to get attention again now that he is no longer a contender for President. Now he is out there lying about how great McSame is. I think he is joking about that too.

    B- you made a great comment. I wonder if Hickabee still laughs about those tragedies!!!!

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

    Change change bo bange banana fana fo fange me my mo-oh mange–CHANGE!!!

    May 18, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  20. Charlotte

    I've read other comments that say a true democrat will not vote for McCain. What do you think of the Reagan Democrats? A lot of them, myself included, could not stomach the Democrats nominee. The same thing will happen if Obama is the nominee. You want to YELL race. Did dukakis lose because he was black? Did Mondale lose because he was black? Never mind the fact his doesn't salute the flag. Never mind that he sat in an Anti-American church for twenty years. Never mind he would rather vote present then take a stand. Never mind his wife is as Anti-American as he is. Never mind he can say he is for change and rely on the old guard for his support. Never mind he thinks of women as "sweeties". Never mind he has some very unsavory friends. Never mind he will meet with our adversaries, unconditionally. With a lot more 'never minds' in his resume, I will write Hillary Clinton on my ballot in November.

    May 18, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  21. JanT

    I'm so shocked that someone would consider that a joke....This country and the people in it have their priorities screwed. You guys can let something as serious in nature as what Huckabee said go but if anyone else says something it needs to be talked about for months, years and decades.

    One last thing, speaking of divided this country has been divided for years and saying that Obama has or is contributing to that division is called, " you and people like you in denial". Once we face that there is a problem like those in rehab then will this country be able to get the help it needs. Because if you think your current president(if that's what he should be called) has made a difference in this country you are one of those people that can't think or do anything for yourself unless someone else comes up with it first.

    And to the person that said Obama should be scared who are you?? Only one person should we all fear and that's the creator GOD. I'm sure he's not afraid because what GOD has for you noone can stop that from coming forth. So in saying that why don't you and the rest of your buddies get ready to "Hail to The CHIEF" Your next President Obama LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 18, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  22. An American in Canada for David

    Benjamin Castinga May 18th, 2008 12:49 pm ET

    This loser was a preacher? The real terror factories of the world are the churches of the south. They will sell Jesus' blood for oil these hypocrites. The true soldiers of the devil they are….




    May 18, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  23. katmarie

    I forgive him, but I will not be able to forget this major destructive gaffe. Yes in this time post Kennedy, King, Kennedy, all of which he lived thru, I feel that maybe these murders must not have had as much of an impact on him as it has on most of America. And then he while defending himself he still doesn't seem to get it... WRONG!

    May 18, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  24. sandra rutkowski

    If Huckebee was a democrat nothing would be said about his comment.

    May 18, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  25. Jim

    I thought preachers could say whatever they wanted?? Isn't that what we've learned??

    May 18, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
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