CNN Slams Huckabee for 'Despicable,' 'Ugly,' 'Dangerous' Attack on Obama Iran Deal

On Monday's New Day, several CNN regulars hurled attacks at GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee for his characterization of President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran as "marching" the Israelis "to the door of the oven." Words like "ugly," "dangerous," and "despicable and terrible," were thrown at Huckabee's comments across two segments.

During the show's regular "Inside Politics" segment, about 7:25 a.m., CNN senior political correspondent Nia-Malika Henderson was the most negative as she declared that Huckabee's words gave her a "visceral reaction." Henderson:

This was despicable and terrible. He should apologize. He will not apologize. He's, I think, fifth in the polls in Iowa, and there is this Trump effect, I think, that's going on with some of these kind of candidates who want to say things and then double down on them to get some attention. But this was, you know, when I heard it, I mean, I had kind of a visceral reaction because it brings up this imagery of, we should only talk about the Holocaust when you're talking about the Holocaust. It's not a metaphor because it really happened. Six million Jews died.

As John King set up Henderson's take, he oddly seemed to liken Huckabee's words to making a "joke" about Adolf Hitler. King:

And the old rule of politics is: Don't joke about Hitler, don't draw comparisons to the Holocaust. There are some things, just leave them alone. Find your other rhetoric. Some, though, Mr. Trump's spokesman just moments ago on the air saying, "I get what he's trying to say because this deal is so bad."

Robert Costa of The Washington Post asserted that the Republican presidential candidates are competing to be "more rhetorically outlandish" in response to President Obama's deal with Iran. Costa:

A comment like this is indicative of why Governor Huckabee has often struggled with donors. A lot of activists like him in Iowa, South Carolina, but when it comes to winning over the establishment, they always feel he has a tendency to go to the incendiary comment. And it's also, I think, really telling that the Republican Party, in general, in response to this Iran deal, have just been challenging each other to see who could be more rhetorically outlandish in what they say. They're all in opposition to it. It's not really a nuanced debate within the party. It's just about how far can you go to oppose it.

In the previous hour, at about 6:04 a.m., during a segment with CNN political analysts John Avlon and Margaret Hoover, host Chris Cuomo previewed their upcoming discussion of Huckabee's words:

We'll get to Mr. -- Governor Mike Huckabee who seems to be trying to play that game in a very ugly fashion.

A bit later, after reading Huckabee's quote, co-host Michaela Pereira turned to Hoover and posed:

Is this the Donald Trump effect of trying to be outrageous? I mean, this is -- this is dangerous.

And, although the metaphor is more along the lines of comparing President Obama to Neville Chamberlain than to Hitler, Avlon soon accused Huckabee of "throwing the Hitler card," calling it "a new low." Avlon:

The more outrageous, the more irresponsible you are, the more attention you get, and all of a sudden some will start thinking that is a smart, smart play. Look, if you only take offense when a President of your party is compared to Hitler, you're part of the problem. And by throwing the Hitler card like this, and then doubling down on it, presumably trying to fundraise down the road, that is a new low. But we're only talking about it in the context of Trump, not the actual just moral absurdity of it.

Below are transcripts of the relevant portions of the Monday, July 27, New Day on CNN:

6:04 a.m.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He (Donald Trump) has been able to suck up all the oxygen very effectively. You're starting to see candidates follow up, thinking the more irresponsible they are, the more attention they'll get, and the more that might play well with the base.

CHRIS CUOMO: We'll get to Mr. -- Governor Mike Huckabee who seems to be trying to play that game in a very ugly fashion.

(...)

6:07 a.m.

MICHAELA PEREIRA: Why don't we take a look at something else that happened on Sunday? Because we've got to talk about this. This is certainly a story that's raised a lot of eyebrows, sure to cause some controversy. Mike Huckabee, let's bring up the quote of what he said yesterday. He said Sunday, quote, Obama, "is marching Israelis to the door of the oven."

CUOMO: And he's advertising it, by the way. That's from Huckabee. That's not our graphic.

PEREIRA: And essentially double down, boasting about the statement that he made on Twitter. Is this the Donald Trump effect of trying to be outrageous? I mean, this is -- this is dangerous.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: A Wall Street Journal opinion editorial this weekend said the 1930s era analogies are about as overused as they are rarely applicable. It is dangerous -- not dangerous, but it diminishes the Holocaust, diminishes the policy issues in front of us, to simply be overusing it all the time.

CUOMO: So what's the motivation? It seems to me to be a pretty naked play, why he's doing this. He's got us talking about him, you know, they're all desperate for that, and this is the way he went about it.

AVLON: But that is a barometer here, right? The more outrageous, the more irresponsible you are, the more attention you get, and all of a sudden some will start thinking that is a smart, smart play. Look, if you only take offense when a President of your party is compared to Hitler, you're part of the problem. And by throwing the Hitler card like this, and then doubling down on it, presumably trying to fundraise down the road, that is a new low. But we're only talking about it in the context of Trump, not the actual just moral absurdity of it.

(...)

7:25 a.m.

JOHN KING: Let's talk about Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor. He, too, ran for President back in 2008. He is likely to be on the debate stage given his standing right now. It's not guaranteed, but he's likely to be on the debate stage. Pretty much across the conservative spectrum, they don't like the deal the President is trying to strike with Iran on the nuclear program. The criticism has been that it leaves Israel at risk, that it gives the Iranians too much and that it gets for the United States too little. Here's a question, though. Did Governor Mike Huckabee cross the line when he said this?

FORMER GOVERNOR MIKE HUCKABEE (R-AR) (AUDIO): This President's foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. He is so naive that he would trust the Iranians, and he would take the Israelis and basically march them to the door of the oven.

KING: "March them to the door of the oven." And if you think you sometimes say things and you say, "Whoa, I went to far," Governor Huckabee after this put a treat out -- a tweet out, excuse me -- that essentially had an image saying he's standing by this. Most people, including the American Defamation League, are saying, "Whoa. Whoa, whoa, whoa."

And the old rule of politics is: Don't joke about Hitler, don't draw comparisons to the Holocaust. There are some things, just leave them alone. Find your other rhetoric. Some, though, Mr. Trump's spokesman just moments ago on the air saying, "I get what he's trying to say because this deal is so bad."

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: This was despicable and terrible. He should apologize. He will not apologize. He's, I think, fifth in the polls in Iowa, and there is this Trump effect, I think, that's going on with some of these kind of candidates who want to say things and then double down on them to get some attention. But this was, you know, when I heard it, I mean, I had kind of a visceral reaction because it brings up this imagery of, we should only talk about the Holocaust when you're talking about the Holocaust. It's not a metaphor because it really happened. Six million Jews died.

KING: Not the first time Huckabee has said things, this is in the context of Trump is out there, say what you think, say what you feel, be authentic. But this one is over the line.

ROBERT COSTA, WASHINGTON POST: A comment like this is indicative of why Governor Huckabee has often struggled with donors. A lot of activists like him in Iowa, South Carolina, but when it comes to winning over the establishment, they always feel he has a tendency to go to the incendiary comment. And it's also, I think, really telling that the Republican Party, in general, in response to this Iran deal, have just been challenging each other to see who could be more rhetorically outlandish in what they say. They're all in opposition to it. It's not really a nuanced debate within the party. It's just about how far can you go to oppose it.

Brad Wilmouth
Brad Wilmouth is a contributing blogger to NewsBusters