The Note: Mike Huckabee Steals The Spotlight From Trump

July 28, 2015, 8:52 AM


--WHAT HUCKABEE IS SAYING: Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee evoked imagery of Nazi death camps when discussing the deal over Iran's nuclear program over the weekend, saying President Barack Obama "would take the Israelis and basically march them to the door of the oven." Huckabee stood by his comments in an interview this morning with NBC News, saying Jews have been "overwhelmingly supportive" of his comment, ABC's BEN GITTLESON reports. "The response from Jewish people has been overwhelmingly positive. The response from Holocaust survivors, from the children of Holocaust survivors," he said. "We need to use strong words when people make strong threats against an entire group of people, as the Iranians have made toward the Jews."

--WHAT THE DEMOCRATS ARE SAYING: Yesterday 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."

--WHAT THE REPUBLICANS ARE SAYING: 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. More reaction from ABC's ALANA ABRAMSON and BEN GITTLESON:

--NOTED: The Huckabee campaign released a video response yesterday to Clinton and President Obama. It features clips of both Clinton and Obama taking aim at Huckabee as well as a sound bite from the candidate saying the Ayatollahs will know "that Hell will freeze over before they get a nuclear weapon." The e-mail message contains an appeal for donations.

--ANALYSIS -- ABC's RICK KLEIN: This hectic week-plus before the first Republican debate may be remembered for Mike Huckabee's Auschwitz memoires, Lindsey Graham's new cell phone, and maybe even Donald Trump's trip across the pond to catch some golf. It might also be remembered as the period in time that Jeb Bush found the campaign groove he's long promised - the one where he shows, in his words, a willingness to "lose the primary to win the general." Bush gave a Spanish-language interview denouncing Trump, jabbed at a certain former candidate famous for "self-deportation," and embraced a centrist's vision of bipartisanship, as The New York Times' Jonathan Martin documents. More interestingly, perhaps, he chose to engage and respond to Huckabee's comments on the Iran deal - a deal, of course, that he harshly opposes: "The use of that kind of language, it's just wrong," Bush said. Attacking fellow Republicans isn't by itself a path to a nomination, as Bush and his team know. But it's a calculation that there's room for a grown-up in the chaos that is the nomination fight right now.

THE FIRST DEBATE: WHO'S IN, WHO'S OUT? The first Republican Presidential debate is just over a week away, but the question remains: who will be on stage and who will be watching from home? Fox News, which is hosting the first debate next Thursday in Cleveland, says that they will include the top 10 candidates from an average of the five most recent national polls. But Fox News isn't saying which polls they will use to calculate their average, leaving the rest of us to play a guessing game, ABC's RYAN STRUYK reports.

--WHO'S IN? According to an ABC News analysis of five recent major national polls on July 27, eight candidates can likely already book their tickets to the debate. Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson.

--WHO'S OUT? Another three candidates are almost certainly going to miss the mark. Carly Fiorina, George Pataki and Lindsey Graham have less than 1 percent support. The six candidates who don't make the debate will instead participate in a one-hour forum during the afternoon before the debate.

--WHO'S ON THE BUBBLE? But that leaves five candidates who are on the bubble: less than 1 percentage point separates the four candidates between 10th place and 13th place. Chris Christie and Rick Perry currently hold the last two spots on the debate stage. John Kasich, who just announced his candidacy last week, misses the debate stage by just two-tenths of a percentage point. Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal are close behind, but still watching from home on Aug. 6. These numbers will move slightly with each new poll that comes out in the next 10 days.

--WHAT WE DON'T KNOW: There's still a lot we don't know. Fox News says that it gets to decide which national polls it will recognize, saying only that they "must be conducted by major, nationally recognized organizations that use standard methodological techniques." But there's more. Will it try to get more precise numbers from polling companies or just use the whole number reported? There's a big difference between 4.4 percent and 3.5 percent, but both round to 4 percent. Will Fox News round averages to the nearest whole number? To the nearest tenth of a percent? What qualifies as a tie?

--WHAT ABOUT TIES? Fox News has also said that, if there is an apparent tie, the news agency will look at more detailed data to determine who is ahead, according to Politico. And if there is an exact tie, they will add an 11th podium to the stage.

TEAM TRUMP RESPONDS TO DAILY BEAST STORY, "Ex-Wife: Donald Trump Made Me Feel 'Violated' During Sex." A Trump spokesperson released this statement last night: "This is an event that has been widely reported on in the past, it is old news and it never happened. It is a standard lawyer technique, which was used to exploit more money from Mr. Trump especially since he had an ironclad prenuptial agreement. It is just a way for the badly failing and money losing Daily Beast, which has been reporting inaccurately on Mr. Trump for years, to get some publicity for itself."

--STATEMENT FROM IVANA TRUMP: "I have recently read some comments attributed to me from nearly 30 years ago at a time of very high tension during my divorce from Donald. The story is totally without merit. Donald and I are the best of friends and together have raised 3 children that we love and are very proud of. I have nothing but fondness for Donald and wish him the best of luck on his campaign. Incidentally, I think he would make an incredible president."

--TRUMP CAMPAIGN STATEMENT ON TRUMP lawyer Michael Cohen's comments about rape in the Daily Beast story: "Mr. Trump didn't know of his comments but disagrees with them."

FLASHBACK: MEET MICHAEL COHEN, DONALD TRUMP'S POLITICAL 'PIT BULL.' Michael Cohen, an executive at the Trump Organization who doubles as Trump's chief political adviser, once volunteered for 1988 presidential candidate Michael Dukakis and worked for a Democratic member of Congress. Cohen ... is known around the office -- and around New York -- as Trump's "pit bull." Some have even nicknamed him "Tom," a reference to Tom Hagen, the consigliore to Vito Corleone in the "Godfather" movies. "It means that if somebody does something Mr. Trump doesn't like, I do everything in my power to resolve it to Mr. Trump's benefit," Cohen said in an interview with ABC News. "If you do something wrong, I'm going to come at you, grab you by the neck and I'm not going to let you go until I'm finished." A lawyer by training, Cohen is Trump's special counsel and a juggler of people and projects. One minute he's on the phone with a reporter, the next he's giving orders to an assistant, and a moment later he's finalizing a deal on another line -- and frequently, he's doing all three at once.


"CLINTON FIGHTS FOR SPECIAL INTERESTS; I WILL FIGHT FOR YOUR INTERESTS," a Des Moines Register Op-Ed by Wisconsin governor and presidential candidate Scott Walker. "You can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep. Hillary Clinton is no exception. Her presidential campaign has been defined by closed-door meetings and carefully choreographed events designed to shield her from the same Americans she is asking for votes. If Iowans were hoping for something different during Clinton's most recent visit to the Hawkeye state, they will be sorely disappointed. ... For Iowans, my campaign offers a very different vision. While Clinton is dead-set on defending and enabling the special interests that have driven our nation's capital to the point of dysfunction, we're focused on fixing the broken system these forces created. We're bringing new and bold leadership from outside of Washington that takes power away from big government bureaucrats and union bosses and puts it back where it belongs: in the hands of hard-working Americans."


@carol_e_lee: Obama muses about 3rd term to Africa Union: "I actually think I'm a pretty good president. I think if I ran I could win. But I can't."

@mlcalderone: Sanders recoils at personality-driven profiles and may shift discussion of foreign policy back to economic inequality

@tripgabriel: Alternative narrative of FL's boom under Bush: a housing bubble, which burst ...

@RonNehring: The @GOP debate plan isn't perfect. No plan is. But it's a needed improvement and no one has proposed a better alternative. @seanspicer

@nationaljournal: Victoria Coates is about to release her first commercial book. She's also Ted Cruz's foreign policy guru:

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