Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee evoked imagery of Nazi death camps when discussing the deal over Iran’s nuclear program Saturday, saying President Barack Obama “would take the Israelis and basically march them to the door of the oven.”
“This president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history,” Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, told the Breitbart News Saturday show on SiriusXM Patriot. "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. This is the most idiot thing.”
The comment elicited criticism from both Republicans and Democrats, but also garnered support from fellow GOP candidate Rick Santorum.
Just today, President Obama said in a news conference from Ethiopia that Huckabee's comments are part of a pattern "that would be considered ridiculous if it weren’t so sad."
“Maybe this is just an effort to push Mr. Trump out of the headlines but it’s not the kind of leadership that’s needed for America right now,” said Obama.
Hillary Clinton, campaigning in Iowa, said Huckabee's comments were "unacceptable" and "have no place in our political dialogue."
"I'm disappointed and I’m really offended personally," said Clinton.
Meanwhile, Huckabee’s fellow Republican Rick Santorum stepped up to defend his presidential rival.
"I think Huckabee is absolutely right," Santorum told John Gibson on Fox News radio."This is the same type of dehumanization of Jews, of recreating history that we saw in Nazi Germany."
Scott Walker declined to weigh in. In an interview on NPR,'s "On Point with Tom Ashbrook" Walker said Iran was a short term threat to Israel, but when pressed about Huckabee's comments, replied: “they can speak for themselves. I’m going to tell you what I’m for."
While fellow GOP candidates George Pataki and Jeb Bush also condemned Huckabee's remarks, they were careful to maintain that they still strongly disapproved of a nuclear deal with Iran.
“This rhetoric, while commonplace in today’s Republican presidential primary, has no place in American politics,” Wasserman Schultz said in a statement. "Cavalier analogies to the Holocaust are unacceptable. Mike Huckabee must apologize to the Jewish community and to the American people for this grossly irresponsible statement.”
But Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister who travels frequently to Israel and has an affinity for the country, is not backing down.
Soon after Wasserman Schultz tweeted a link to her statement Sunday afternoon, Huckabee posted an image on Facebook and Twitter that juxtaposed the Israeli and Iranian flags behind the words, “The Iran nuclear deal is marching the Israelis to the door of the oven.”
He released the following statement after President Obama's comments: "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.' '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 subsequently released a video responding to Obama and Clinton's comments, which he posted on Twitter:
Huckabee, who in May announced he is running for president, has frequently broadcast his opposition to the agreement reached earlier this month.