Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, said in a recent interview the Iran nuclear deal is so irresponsible it will "take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”
The Holocaust reference quickly drew the attention of both defenders and detractors. Even President Barack Obama weighed in during a press conference in Ethiopia, where he is currently visiting, NPR reported.
Obama called Huckabee’s comments "part of just a general pattern that we've seen that would be considered ridiculous if it weren't so sad.” He went on to address the many controversial comments made by Republican presidential candidates, especially those made by Donald Trump and his team.
"We just don't fling out ad hominem attacks like that, because it doesn't help inform the American people," the president said. "Maybe this is just an effort to push Mr. Trump out of the headlines, but it's not the kind of leadership that is needed for America right now.”
On his website, Huckabee’s team defended his comments by republishing an article originally published on Beritbart News, the same site that initially published his holocaust comment. “(Huckabee) didn’t say that Obama is forcibly shoving Jews into ovens. He said that the Obama administration has brought the Israelis to the brink of a second Holocaust, that the Obama administration is complicit in the Iranian desire to achieve that second Holocaust.”
The statement went on: "President Obama isn’t facilitating the march of Jews to the ovens, as many Germans did in World War II, because he’s being forced to do so at point of gun. He’s the most powerful man on earth, in charge of the most powerful military in world history. And he’s helping out an Iranian regime hell-bent on destroying Jews worldwide and conquering its neighbors.”
Jewish groups have been quick to condemn Huckabee’s comments. "Whatever one's views of the nuclear agreement with Iran ... comments such as those by Mike Huckabee suggesting the president is leading Israel to another Holocaust are completely out of line and unacceptable,” said the advocacy group the Anti-Defamation League in a statement.
The National Jewish Democratic Council echoed the sentiment and called on other candidates to speak out against Huckabee. "Republicans have fallen over themselves to speak out against Donald Trump's outrageous rhetoric on immigration and veterans,” the group said in a statement. “…Will they stand by in silence and implicit approval? We call on every candidate to condemn Gov. Huckabee's disgusting statement and to show where they truly stand.”