US President Barack Obama on Monday deplored a comment by Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who likened the agreement on an Iranian nuclear deal to “marching the Israelis to the door of the oven,” a reference to the Holocaust.
Obama, asked about the comments at a news conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said they were part of a pattern of attacks by 2016 Republican presidential candidates that would be “considered ridiculous if it weren’t so sad.”
Such issues as the Iran nuclear deal deserve serious debate, not outlandish statements, he said.
“It doesn’t help inform the American people,” Obama added.
Obama also singled out Ted Cruz, a Texas senator running for the GOP nomination, for suggesting in the wake of the nuclear deal that Obama — not Iran — is the leading state sponsor of terrorism.
“These are leaders in the Republican Party,” Obama said incredulously.
Obama said that, despite all the criticism of the deal, “I have not heard another argument that holds up” against it. And he said “99% of the world thinks it’s a good deal.”
Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, made the 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.”
Huckabee said about the deal: “I read the entire thing. We gave away the whole farm. It’s got to be stopped.”
Responding, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Huckabee’s statement was “grossly irresponsible” and called on him to apologize.
But a Huckabee spokeswoman said Sunday his comments reflect a longstanding 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.