June 18th, 2008
12:00 PM ET
12 years ago

Huckabee: Demonizing Obama is a ‘fatal mistake’

Mike Huckabee delivers a speech at Foreign Correspondents' Club in Tokyo.

Mike Huckabee delivers a speech at Foreign Correspondents' Club in Tokyo.

(CNN) – Former GOP presidential contender Mike Huckabee called Barack Obama's candidacy "a landmark achievement" Tuesday, and warned fellow Republicans not to demonize Obama.

"Republicans will make a fundamental if not fatal mistake if they seek to win the election by demonizing Barack Obama," Huckabee told reporters in Tokyo, according to a report by Agence France-Presse.

Huckabee praised the country for getting "to a point where we did not see his color but we truly saw his charisma, his message and what he brought to the campaign trail."

"When people are really hurting - and they are right now - they're not looking at a person's race," he added.

Huckabee said he hopes John McCain beats Obama, but that Republicans should focus on policy differences, not race.

Huckabee suggested questions about whether he might join McCain on the ticket were premature. "You can't accept an invitation to the prom until the football captain asks you. So I'm not going to go out and buy the outfit just yet," said Huckabee, according to AFP.

Filed under: Mike Huckabee • Popular Posts
soundoff (221 Responses)
  1. Sue

    That's good sense to the GOP. I've been warning them for a while now and the new polls from FL, OH, and PA prove that these attacks against Obama for being half black and half white aren't working.

    We shd be pointing out how we can help the American people by our policies so we can win or else just as the new polls show, we'll loose.

    Aword to the wise is enough!!

    Demoralized GOP!

    June 18, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  2. mk

    Always thought Huckabee had some sense. People identify with Obama. The more Republicans put Obama down, the more it appears that they are putting down Americans of color, mixed heritage, those that have struggled or empathize with those that have struggled in their lives, those that are so ready to end the war that they are angered (about 99% of the population), and those that are hurting because of a badly recessed economy.

    June 18, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  3. Sandra

    We all know what most republicans are about. And, I don't believe Huckabee after the sick joke that he made last month.

    June 18, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  4. Mike in NYC

    I'm not sure what he means by "demonizing." He apparently thinks that the Repubs should go easy on BO because he's black. That's a sure-fire prescription for defeat, although at this point it seems like it's BO's race to lose.

    Even the Repubs are playing the "anti-racist" game. It would be better for them if they appealed to their overwhelmingly white base and its distaste for the grievance politics played, continually and successfully, by non-whites. It's called identity politics, and everyone practices it except whites. The Repubs’ refusal to do the necessary is part of what’s killing them.

    I don’t relish the thought of BO as POTUS, but at least it will put the brakes on the "institutional racism" merry-go-round.

    June 18, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  5. Eileen from Maine

    Although, I couldn't disagree more with some of Huckabee's policy stances and ideas I have always thought he was one of the few really decent Republican leaders. I think Huckabee has it right. to demonize Obama will backfire on them, but I doubt they know any other way. And from what I can see, doing what they always have is what Republicans do, whether it is for the better or not. it is an authoritarian system, where it gets started from the top and the rest of the bloggers and talk show hosts, pundits and supporters submissively follow their leaders and pick up on the hate talk, (regardless of whether it is true or not). So, fortunately for the rest of us, I believe it will be a losing game for them this time. Too many people are paying attention and won't let them get away with the 'untruths' this time.
    Also we have some invaluable help from mediamatters.org setting the record straight.

    June 18, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  6. Michael

    Huckabee is a good American, "Republicans should focus on policy differences, not race"
    I think that is a powerfull message and I hope those Republicans will do the right things this time.

    Toronto, Ontario

    June 18, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  7. Shay

    Thank You Senator Huckabee You said it boldly.

    June 18, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  8. Lisa

    Now days you can't even trust so called Christian! Is he a Christian?

    June 18, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  9. Dee

    Although I am liberal Republican (yes I do believe in republican values and I am liberal when it comes to gay marriage and abortion right) and Huck and I stand poles apart when it comes to policies and ideas...I truly love this Conservative man because he believes in goodness in any man- be it liberal, conservative, black, white, Republican or Democrats..He is one the reason why I can think that Conservatives can also be good..

    Rush limbaugh, Sean hannity- they all represent hate...

    June 18, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  10. DeeJam - Los Angeles

    I don't think the repubs are focusing on race. I haven't seen that at all. It might be the reason some people (republican and democrat) don't like Obama but many people don't want to seem outright racist so they say they won't vote for him because of his inexperience. Instead, many people have switched their stance on policies that affect the country in order to vote against Obama. It's pretty sad.

    Huckabee was directing his words towards Republicans but I think democrats need to listen as well. Democrats should focus on policy differences, not race. When people are really hurting — and they are right now — they shouldn't be looking at a person's race

    June 18, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  11. Herman in LA

    The only thing is fatal is you republican that has been running the white house for the last eight years and have put this country into a war that should have never been authorize or wages and put us Americans in to debt to the tune of $200 billion dollars that our children’s, children are going to have to pay off. So Mr. Huckabee you and McCain and the Bush administration are the fatal mistakes...


    June 18, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  12. E Mulwa

    This is what is called "keeping it real"!

    June 18, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  13. Chuck

    Huckabee understands (unlike McCain and others supporting McCain) that to demonize Obama is to demomnize those ideals and principles that make this country great. Huckabee understands that attacking Obama who has and will maintain an inclusive attitude of "we" without the divisive personal attacks against his competitor will backfire on the republicans and McCain. Some people keep speaking of Obama inexperience. They need to understand that inexperience coupled with a strong belief in the American ideals and the American people is a much better set of leadership qualities then ill-experience coupled with a belief in the system. Obama, although less expereinced exemplifies and represents the American ideals. McCain, although more experienced represents the ill-experience that this country can no longer afford to follow. He represents the system that needs a complete make-over.

    June 18, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  14. Lynda from Texas

    I am an independent who voted voted more Republican than Democrat until this primary season and I voted forr Obama in the primaries and am still an avid Obama supporter. During the primaries I was not impressed, and frankly a little hesitant about Huckabee.

    As the primaries moved on and as he spoke out more, I have become impressed with his diplomacy, humor and feel he represents what may be one of the best in the Republican Party.

    Other Republicans could learn from him.

    June 18, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  15. Ms G

    Huckabee go to sleep!

    June 18, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  16. Eva, VA

    Er...is Huckabee a closet democrat?

    June 18, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  17. Matt

    Republicans are above 'demonizing' dirty politics.

    Apparently the democrats still don't have any problem stooping to childish games though.

    June 18, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  18. Jen, CA

    Mr. Huckabee, no one is "demonizing" Obama. Mr. Huckabee, you should read some of these CNN posts if you want to know what "demonizing" is and has been all along - the "demonizing" of Hillary Clinton, a person who has spent her entire adult life helping people who are really hurting. With respect to Senator Obama, seriously scrutinizing a candidate for president of the United States is NOT "demonizing."

    June 18, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  19. Umpire

    An interesting comment. I find it curious, however, that Huckabee didn't point out that the Ten Commandments also bar slander speech. He seems to make it a matter of political smarts and tactics to avoid them. Perhaps he said more on the topic at the time but the media didn't include it. I hope so. The Good Book makes it pretty clear that hate speech is immoral.

    June 18, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  20. Steve

    Huckabee's right, of course. This election should be fought on the issues. But it won't be. Obama will be slimed as no candidate has ever been – not by McCain, who I feel truly wants to run an honorable race – but by 527s, Operation Chaos (whose members we see here posing as Clinton supporters), and fringe elements.

    This time, though, it's not going to work. The Republicans are going down, and it will be their lunatic contingent that drags them there.

    June 18, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  21. John Q

    that's the first sensible thing huck has said about obama since his very un-funny gun joke in front of the NRA

    i doubt if republicans will take his advice though

    June 18, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  22. Chris, Middletown, CT

    He is 100% right.....the country needs to heal...along with the rest of the world....

    June 18, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  23. The Bush Twins : George and John

    I just can't get the comment Gov. Huckabee made, out of my mind. You know, what he said when speaking before the NRA about someone pointing a gun at Sen. Obama. And I used to like Mike, but I just wish he hadn't said that.

    June 18, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  24. Alvin

    Who cares WHAT Obama thinks he is. He is open game and ANYONE can attack him like they attack any other person running for President. Look how they TRASHED Hillary! I guess if your a women its ok, but not if you black. We should just crown him the President now, Obama thinks he deserves it and is so untouchable. Everything is race related to him and his clan.

    June 18, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  25. Steve in DC

    I dont buy it...I think hes just trying to make up for that horrible joke he told about Barak being shot.

    June 18, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
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