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. Karen,

    Since Huckabee can't remember he said it( which seems to happen often by the Republicans) Maybe he should learn to think before he speaks.

    May 18, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  2. Crush Rush

    The NRA is run by the arms industry,not the people that own guns.They only care about money not lives lost.Every election they scare people by telling them they will lose their guns.What a crock.

    May 18, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  3. Independent in Florida

    Let's hope he is not yet another preacher with a devilish mind.

    May 18, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  4. Al

    I live in Florida, and it's idiots like Terry in FL that make me ashamed to be from Florida. Obama has not said a word about the incident, yet Terry takes an opportunity to attack him for no reason and blame him for the mess Huckabee made. I'd like to know how he has divided the country. Blame yourself for the racial divide. All Obama has tried to do is heal it, not profit from it. That's what Hillard and McCain have done.

    May 18, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  5. b. Krause

    It's not the issue that's insignificant or benign. It's the person who said it.

    May 18, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  6. tim

    get a grip you angry people.

    it doesn't matter what Huckabee meant. he clearly stepped over the line no matter if Obama is black or not.

    May 18, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  7. Raphael

    "Small Town Americans cling to guns and religion" Obamas words. This is not a joke this bigot said this.

    All joking aside Obama is a bigot.

    Go Hillary, if not Hillary Go McCain

    May 18, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  8. Diing in Washington

    Simply outrageous!.

    May 18, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  9. Mike D.

    >>I would have to no second thoughts voting for a black man for office

    You're lying.

    May 18, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  10. Cory

    You can tell always spot the people who aren't naturally funny by their own comments. It was an attempt at a witty ad-lib and while I listening to the clip I noticed it did not go silence like the article says. He got laughs about the gun line too, although they were mild compared to the initial laughter.

    Obviously it wasn't the smartest thing to say but humor doesn't work that way. Funny people go for the laugh first and think about how they got it later. Regardless of what you think of Huckabee, the guy is funny. In hindsight, had it been a prepared moment, I'm sure the line would've been "someone picked up a gun near him and he dove to the floor" which would characterize Obama's fearful stance against the 2nd amendment. That's not how it came out though but I'll bet that was the point he was trying to make - he just didn't get there that well.

    People are blowing this out of proportion. The guy apologized... let it go (and avoid cancer in the process).

    May 18, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  11. R.I.F.

    Terry in Fl May 18th, 2008 12:47 pm ET

    You just don't get it. Obama never injected race into this. The reason why race has become an issue is because Obama is black. I guess that means that no blacks should ever run for President because as long as one does, race is going to be brought up by the media. So even to say something like he should be scared and there will be consequneces is just plain stupid. Obama never asked for an apology and I'm sure he doesn't care about Mike Huckebee considering that he is irrelevant. You can dislike a candidate, but going along with this Huckabee joke and thinking it's cool is just stupid. I'm sure there were some jokes in front of gun owners about Martin Luther King and JFK before they were shot and killed too.

    No matter how many times you say it, no one believes that you are a true doemocrat so stop wasting those extra keystokes. I've heard you make a number of purely republican, right wing talking points that I seen right off of the pages of Rush Limbaugh's transcripts that he posts online.

    May 18, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  12. Michael Kayongo

    He is in the same league as Pastor Jerremiah Wright- Its preachers who need deliverence not the congregations they preach too.

    May 18, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  13. The Truth

    Typical Repbulican comments.... ignorant, arrogrant, short-sighted, divisive, callous, insensitive.... plan dumb and STUPID! Rebulicians are doing what they do best, what they only know how to do..... incite fear and division.... divide and control....truly the works of the Devil. INTELLIGENT, CARING, INSIGHTFUL, HOPEFUL Americians have enough of this stupidity and hatefulness. IT'S TIME FOR A CHANGE! ITS TIME TO UNITE THIS NATION! TO BUILD UP AND REPAIR ALL THAT THE REPUBLICIANS HAVE DESTROYED FOR THE LAST 20 YEARS!

    May 18, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  14. kell

    this was not funny NOT a joke. Why would a so called Christian make a racist joke towards a black man who just maybe our next prez????

    Shame on you Huckabee!

    May 18, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  15. Lisa

    Why do all the Obama haters have to type in all caps? All they all screaming, yelling idiots? It appears that way when you attempt to read their comments. This so called joke wasn't funny....I don't care who you are. I would not have wanted to hear someone joke about aiming a gun at ANY of the candidates. Its tasteless and he knows it and so does anyone who has any sense.

    May 18, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  16. Ken

    Why is this joke bad? It's because Obama, who will be the the first black nominee of a major political party and a real chance to win the White House, will be a target of nutbags and idiots, much like the one's who breath hellfire hate towards him.

    Why do you think he got Secret Service protection even before he was the frontrunner?

    Huckabee just said what I think a lot of the Obama haters would like to see.

    So's not funny to me.

    May 18, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  17. forksmuggler

    Huckabee schmuckabee. He's a benign joke himself.

    May 18, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  18. Dan

    Unbelievable. This an outrageous comment, but one that seems reflective of the republican party and the type of people they are aiming at. I hope that the secret service is taking appropriate action to protect Sen. Obama.

    May 18, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  19. Bob from Pensylvannia

    For those who call themselves CHRISTIANS but loves to hate, tell us why you think you can go to heaven if your life on earth is so full of HATE and CONTRADICTIONS. You claim to be Christians but you talk hate and preach hate. You embody in yourselves the whole evil things that the Bible says you should be liberated from. Your priest defend you and worst still give you ideas on how to hate, kill and get away from having to ever answer for those acts.
    Big irony because they forget what they preach about. That there is hell and paradise.

    For those cabals that hate Obama for whatever reason, my question is: Do you also hate his Mother? If you can't answer this question loudly within 2 seconds, then you are destined to burn in hell.

    Thats what the Bible says of people like you.

    May 18, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  20. Chris

    What scares me the most is that Hillary Clinton is waiting for "something absolutely unexpected" to happen to Barack Obama so she could still be the nominee for the Democratic Party. Is this what she is waiting for – somebody shooting Obama????

    May 18, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  21. Not Ready For Prime Time

    If a newscaster or commentator had said what Huckabee said, he would be fired.

    May 18, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  22. Mike from tx

    It is not funny joke at all. Everybody will scare in the face of gun.
    He should respect OBAMA and it seems he lacks respect of a leader.
    He is A SHAME for Mcbush...........................
    He needs to learn how to respect and hold dignity before coming to
    microphone or just shut up.

    May 18, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  23. Obama Supporter





    May 18, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  24. Irritated in Oregon

    Let's see, Obama did community work in Chicago and probaly not in a real upscale part of that city. Places where racial tensions and gangs probably are everyday events.

    Now you have the chicken hawks laugh at Obama and get their fun.

    Now how many of you are going to laugh this off when confronting the mothers of the kids that die everyday due to gun violence?

    How many of you are going to laugh when you see US Troops duck because of sniper fire?

    How many of you have the bravado to go into areas where things are not so good and try to organize people, so they can have a better life.

    No you just sit there being proud that you can laugh at a sick joke.

    Hmmmm I wonder what would happen if any of the Chicken Hawks.... Bush, Chenney, Rove would stand there bravely with a gun pointed at them?

    I would rather elect a person that has the courage to work with people, than people who want to solve issues by using violence.

    Obama 08

    May 18, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  25. Tired of all the Flap

    As Jack Cafferty from CNN put it "idiot" and "moran" for even suggesting a not funny joke by no means possible. This is a baptist minister that clings to guns by even being at the NRA convention and to say a thing doesn't do anything but makes suggestions to all of the crazys out here in this world or U.S. No wonder Huckabee did not go very far in the primaries because just as John McCain he flip-flops like a fish out of water.

    May 18, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
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