Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee stood by widely criticized comments accusing US President Barack Obama of “marching Israelis to the door of the oven,” accusing Iran of planning a “Big Holocaust.”
The comments came hours after Obama himself swiped Huckabee. In the latest volley of an ongoing and increasingly personal argument over the Iran nuclear deal, the president described the comments by Huckabee — in addition to those of other Republican candidates — as “ridiculous if it weren’t so sad.”
Earlier this week, Huckabee likened the nuclear agreement to “marching the Israelis to the door of the oven,” a clear reference to the Holocaust.
Huckabee defended his remark, accusing Obama of ignoring threats from Tehran.
“What’s ‘ridiculous and sad’ is that President Obama does not take Iran’s repeated threats seriously. For decades, Iranian leaders have pledged to ‘destroy,’ ‘annihilate,’ and ‘wipe Israel off the map’ with a ‘big Holocaust,'” he said in a statement.
“‘Never again’ will be the policy of my administration and I will stand with our ally Israel to prevent the terrorists in Tehran from achieving their own stated goal of another Holocaust,” he added.
Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, made his original “door of the oven” comment during a radio interview Saturday, denouncing Obama for his role in the agreement reached July 14 by the United States and five other world powers with Tehran.
He tweeted out the comment again Sunday.
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) July 26, 2015
“This president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history,” Huckabee said in an interview with Breitbart News broadcast on Sirius/XM radio Saturday. “He’s so naive he would trust the Iranians and he would take the Israelis and basically march them to the door of the oven.”
Huckabee said that “this Iran deal should be rejected by both Democrats and Republicans.
“We forget Iranians have never kept a deal in 36 years under the ayatollah. There’s no reason to think they will suddenly start doing it,” he continued.
Huckabee said about the deal: “I read the entire thing. We gave away the whole farm. It’s got to be stopped.”
Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton said Monday she was personally offended by the comments.
“Comments like these are offensive and they have no place in our political dialogue. I am disappointed and I am really offended personally,” Clinton said. “I find this kind of inflammatory rhetoric totally unacceptable. One can disagree with the particulars of the agreement to put a lid on the nuclear weapons program of Iran. And that is fair game. But this steps over the line and it should be repudiated by every person of good faith.”
A day earlier, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Huckabee’s statement was “grossly irresponsible” and called on him to apologize.
Other politicians and groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, also denounced Huckabee’s comments.
But a Huckabee spokeswoman defended the comments on Sunday, saying they reflect a long-standing position that “the Iran deal is a bad deal — bad for America and bad for Israel.”
Huckabee’s comments come as the Republican presidential candidates struggle to break through a crowded field of 16, with one of those, New York businessman Donald Trump, getting more attention than most.