The war of words between President Obama and the ever increasing cadre of critics over the controversial Iran nuclear agreement heated up on Monday, July 27th, when GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee lashed back at the nation’s chief executive by saying that he does not take the Iran nuclear threat seriously.
The exchange between President Obama and Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee began last Sunday when the Fox News host said that the Iran deal "will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven."
INN reported that during an interview on the Breitbart News Saturday radio program, Huckabee said of Obama: “This president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians."
"By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven," the former governor of Arkansas asserted, according to the INN report.
"This is the most idiotic thing, this Iran deal. It should be rejected by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress and by the American people. I read the whole deal. We gave away the whole store. It’s got to be stopped,” Huckabee added.
On the day the deal with Iran was announced, Huckabee condemned it, issuing another scathing rebuke of the Obama administration.
Taking a broad swiped against his rivals in the Republican party and especially those running for the presidency in 2016, President Obama responded to Huckabee’s remarks on Monday as "sad" and "ridiculous." INN reported that the president dismissed the gravitas of the remarks by claiming Huckabee is trying to "push Mr. [Donald] Trump out of the headlines" in the pre-2016 elections media race.
The president added that, "We’ve had a sitting senator who also happens to be running for president suggest that I’m the leading state sponsor of terrorism. These are leaders in the Republican Party."
"It is not the kind of leadership that is needed in America right now, “ the president added.
"Presidential debates deserve better. We just don't fling out ad hominem attacks like that because it doesn't help inform the American people.”
For his part, Huckabee offered a biting retort to the president’s disparaging remarks by saying, "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 added, according to the INN report.
"Shame on the Obama admin for agreeing to a deal that empowers an evil Iranian regime to carry out its threat to wipe Israel off the map," Huckabee tweeted.
"As president, I will stand with Israel and keep all options on the table, including military force, to topple the terrorist Iranian regime," he vowed.
According to Breitbart, Huckabee, has the highest favorability rating of all Republican candidates running for president in 2016.
CNN reported that the heated rhetoric between the two comes as the first Republican primary debate nears and Huckabee and his 15 other GOP candidates for president jockey for the spotlight to ensure they are among the top 10 featured on stage for the main event.
Leading Democratic presidential candidate and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton also knocked Huckabee's comments during a press conference on Monday.
"Comments like these are offensive and they have no place in our political dialogue," Clinton said.
However, Huckabee has repeatedly slammed the Iran deal as dangerous for the U.S. and Israel since even before the deal was forged.
President Obama’s comments on Huckabee’s remarks drew a response from the Trump campaign as well. Rather than rebuking Huckabee’s language, Michael Cohen, the special counsel for Donald Trump said he does not think that his employer finds those words offensive, according to a CNN report.
"I think what Huckabee is really trying to say is we're in a bad place," said Cohen who is also the executive president of the Trump organization during an interview early Monday with CNN’s Chris Cuomo. Cohen added that he has personally lost family members in the Holocaust and does not want to see it happen again.
CNN reported that Cohen told Cuomo: "What Trump is trying to say is a nuclear Iran is the destruction of this world. What we need is a strong America. If you have a strong America you have a strong world. If we have a weak America, we have a weak world." Noting that Secretary of State John Kerry is pushing a “disastrous agenda” in the form of the Iran nuclear agreement, Cohen told CNN that Trump is “not offended” by Huckabee’s remarks.
Cohen added that, “What I am is I’m concerned, I’m truly concerned for the safety of not just this country but the countries all around the world.” Earlier this month, Trump strongly excoriated the Iran nuclear deal and told CNN’s Dana Bash that, “They are laughing at us back in Iran. Our country is going to hell.”
Jewish Democrats also joined in the chorus of condemnations directed at Huckabee’s remarks. According to an INN report, head of the Democratic National Committee Deborah Wasserman-Schultz called on the former Arkansas governor to apologize for what she called “cavalier analogies” to Nazi death camps.
“This rhetoric, while commonplace in today’s Republican presidential primary, has no place in American politics,” she said.
The National Jewish Democratic Council said in a statement, “Republicans have fallen over themselves to speak out against Donald Trump’s outrageous rhetoric on immigration and veterans. Will they now do the same and speak out against this unacceptable attack against President Obama that smears the memory of Holocaust victims … or will they stand by in silence and implicit approval?”
Also taking aim at Huckabee’s remarks was former Florida Governor and GOP hopeful Jeb Bush. The New York Times reported that Bush said that Republicans needed “to tone down the rhetoric” if they hoped to recapture the White House next year.
“This is not the way we’re going to win elections and that’s not how we’re going to solve problems. So, unfortunate remark — not quite sure why he felt compelled to say it,” he added, according to The New York Times.
“Look, I’ve been to Israel, not as many times as Mike Huckabee, who I respect,” Bush added. He also sandwiched his critique of Huckabee’s comments around denunciations of the nuclear agreement itself, which he called “horrific” at the outset and “a bad deal” in conclusion.
A source close to the GOP camp, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “The denunciations of Governor Huckabee’s statements are outrageous. Republicans in Congress know full well that the Iran nuclear agreement will indeed place Israel in existential peril. Everyone knows how devastating the passage of this agreement will be for the future of the one and only Jewish state. The only one who had the courage to tell the truth is Mike Huckabee.”
As an unwavering and stalwart supporter of Israel and the settlement movement, Huckabee has visited Israel on countless occasions. During a September 2014 visit he said, “The enemies of Israel are the enemies of the United States, whether it’s the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, Hamas, ISIS - all are branches from the same evil tree.”