When you’re running for president and one of your opponents is a billionaire blowhard with the ability to soak up more media attention than the rest of the field combined, it takes extra effort to get noticed. Some members of the Republican field have faded quietly into the background in the past few weeks, waiting for Hurricane Trump to blow over. But this weekend former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee made a bid for some attention by criticizing the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.
The potential criticism of the deal are many and varied. Some believe Iran is negotiating in bad faith, others fear it will touch off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Still others say it will compromise the security of the United States’ strongest ally in the region, Israel.
It was the latter tack that Huckabee took in an interview with the radio program “Breitbart News Saturday,” throwing in a Holocaust reference for good measure.
“This president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history,” Huckabee told Breitbart editor-in-chief Alexander Marlow. “It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”
Social media blew up over Huckabee’s comment, with the reaction overwhelmingly critical. But the presidential hopeful, who is currently in the middle of the overcrowded GOP pack with 5 percent in the most recent CNN/ORC poll, evidently liked the attention.
On Sunday afternoon, he tweeted out a version of the quote attached to his campaign logo, as well as a link to an online petition he is organizing to kill the deal – a petition that, coincidentally, also carries a prominent reminder to donate money to the Huckabee campaign.
By Monday morning, even President Obama had got into the act, taking the unusual step of criticizing his political opponents at home while traveling abroad.
“The particular comments of Mr. Huckabee are just part of a general pattern that would be considered ridiculous, if it wasn’t so sad,” he said during a press conference in Ethiopia, where he stopped during his current trip to Africa. “We’ve had a sitting senator call John Kerry Pontius Pilate. We’ve had a sitting senator, who also happens to be running for president, suggest that I’m the leading state sponsor of terrorism. These are leaders in the Republican Party.”
That Huckabee would say something outrageous probably shouldn’t surprise anybody.
He recently lent his name and endorsement to a bogus diabetes “cure” program, for which he was called to account by, among others, former CBS reporter and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer, himself a diabetic.
Taking positions that are politically convenient and tailored to the hard right wing is nothing new for Huckabee. As governor of Arkansas he trumpeted physical fitness and healthy eating, telling the story of his own dramatic weight loss and fitness program. He even wrote a book, Quit Digging Your Grave with a Knife and Fork.
That, of course, was before First Lady Michelle Obama began advocating for healthy eating and physical fitness and attacking her initiatives became catnip for the right wing. Huckabee’s latest book is God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy.
Huckabee will almost certainly flame out fairly early in the primary process, particularly if he keeps digging his own political grave. With his mouth.