Huckabee Defends Obama … and the Rev. Wright

By MichaelJames

Mar 19, 2008 8:53pm

After joking that he’s leasing a hot dog stand in Manhattan, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on MSNBC’s Morning Joe early this morning defended Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., on the Rev. Wright front.

And, in fact, he defended Rev. Wright, too.

You can watch it HERE.

MIKE HUCKABEE: There are two different stories — one is Obama’s reaction, the other one is the Rev. Wright’s speech itself. And I think that, you know, Obama has handled this about as well as anybody could. And I agree, it’s a very historic speech. I think that it was an important one and one that he had to deliver, and he couldn’t wait. The sooner he made it, maybe the quicker that this becomes less of the issue. Otherwise, it was the only thing that was the issue in his entire campaign. And I thought he handled it very, very well.

And he made the point, and I think it’s a valid one, that you can’t hold the candidate responsible for everything that people around him may say or do. You just can’t — whether it’s me, whether it’s Obama, anybody else. But he did distance himself from the very vitriolic statements.

Now, the second story. It’s interesting to me that there are some people on the left that are having to be very uncomfortable with what Louis Wright said, when they all were all over a Jerry Falwell or anyone on the right who said things that they found very awkward and uncomfortable years ago. Many times those were statements lifted out of the context of a larger sermon.

Sermons, after all, are rarely written word-for-word by pastors like Rev. Wright, who are delivering them extemporaneously, and caught up in the emotion of the moment. There are things that sometimes get said, that if you put them on paper and looked at them in print, you’d say, "Well, I didn’t mean to say it quite like that."

MSNBC HOST JOE SCARBOROUGH: But, but you never came close to saying five days after September 11 that America deserved what it got — or that the American government invented AIDS…

HUCKABEE: Not defending his statements.

SCARBOROUGH: Oh, I know you’re not. I know you’re not. I’m just wondering though: For a lot of people … would you not guess that there are a lot of independent voters in Arkansas that vote for Democrats sometimes, and vote for Republicans sometimes, that are sitting here wondering how Barack Obama’s spiritual mentor would call the United States the US-KKK?

HUCKABEE: I mean, those were outrageous statements, and nobody can defend the content of them.

SCARBOROUGH: But what’s the impact on voters in Arkansas? Swing voters.

HUCKABEE: I don’t think we know. If this were October, I think it would have a dramatic impact. But it’s not October. It’s March. And I don’t believe that by the time we get to October this is going to be the defining issue of the campaign and the reason that people vote.

And one other thing I think we’ve got to remember: As easy as it is for those of us who are white to look back and say, "That’s a terrible statement," I grew up in a very segregated South, and I think that you have to cut some slack. And I’m going to be probably the only conservative in America who’s going to say something like this, but I’m just telling you: We’ve got to cut some slack to people who grew up being called names, being told, "You have to sit in the balcony when you go to the movie. You have to go to the back door to go into the restaurant. And you can’t sit out there with everyone else. There’s a separate waiting room in the doctor’s office. Here’s where you sit on the bus." And you know what? Sometimes people do have a chip on their shoulder and resentment. And you have to just say, I probably would too. I probably would too. In fact, I may have had a more, more of a chip on my shoulder had it been me.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: It’s the Atticus Finch line about walking a mile in somebody else’s shoes. I remember when Ronald Reagan got shot in 1981. There were some black students in my school that started applauding and said they hoped that he died. And you just sat there and of course you were angry at first, and then you walked out and started scratching your head, going, "Boy, there is some deep resentment there."

- jpt

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