The Huckster returns: Looking back at 7 of Mike Huckabee's most vile moments

As the former Arkansas governor moves toward another presidential run, we take a trip down Memory Lane

Published January 5, 2015 3:30PM (EST)

  (AP/Keith Srakocic)
(AP/Keith Srakocic)

Over the weekend, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee announced that he would end his Fox News program to explore a second bid for president in 2016. “There has been a great deal of speculation as to whether I would run for President,” Huckabee wrote in a Facebook post. “I won’t make a decision about running until late in the spring of 2015, but the continued chatter has put Fox News into a position that is not fair to them.” While another White House campaign may not be a done deal for the 2008 winner of the Iowa caucuses, Huckabee has been laying the groundwork for a presidential bid for months, and his decision to abandon (at least temporarily) a lucrative media career suggests that he's serious about seeking the Oval Office.

If Huckabee enters the contest for the Republican nomination, he'll easily rank among the most rabid social conservatives in the race. Over the course of his political and media career, Huckabee has staked out thoroughly troglodytic positions on issues like homosexuality, abortion rights, and the theory of evolution. At a time when many GOP bigwigs would rather tamp down talk of social issues, Huckabee's presence in the race would ensure a high-profile platform for the Christian conservative base's old time religion. Below, Salon looks back at seven of the most odious expressions of Huckabee's deeply bigoted, Christianist worldview.

Urging the quarantining of AIDS patients

During his unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate in 1992, Huckabee, who called homosexuality "an aberrant, unnatural, and sinful lifestyle," called for the forcible isolation of AIDS patients, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had concluded seven years prior that AIDS couldn't be transmitted through casual contact.

Although he allowed that he would probably "say things a little differently" 15 years later, Huckabee refused to walk back his AIDS comments during his 2008 presidential campaign.

Same-sex marriage and "the ick factor"

Studies show that conservatives are more prone that liberals to feelings of disgust; such feelings are often directed toward minority groups like the LGBT community, as the political philosopher Martha Nussbaum has detailed. Huckabee's statements on same-sex marriage are a prime example. In a New Yorker profile in 2010, Huckabee conceded that part of his opposition to marriage equality was rooted in "the ick factor."

"Male and female are biologically compatible to have a relationship. We can get into the ick factor, but the fact is two men in a relationship, two women in a relationship, biologically, that doesn't work the same," he told the magazine's Ariel Levy.

Amend the Constitution to align with "God's standards"

Weeks after Huckabee drew fire for a campaign ad that featured a "floating cross," the Southern Baptist preacher offered his full-throated endorsement of a Christian theocracy during a January 2008 campaign appearance in Michigan.

"I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution," Huckabee said. "But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that's what we need to do -- to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view."

Evolution denialism

Given Huckabee's support for a Christianist government, it's hardly surprising that he believes creationism should be taught alongside the theory of evolution in public school classrooms. Which does Huckabee himself affirm? Don't pretend you had to ask. During a GOP primary debate in 2007, Huckabee assailed the notion that he descended from "a primate."

"I believe whether God did it in six days or whether he did it in six days that represented periods of time, he did it, and that’s what’s important," Huckabee said of life's origins.

"But, you know, if anybody wants to believe that they are the descendants of a primate, they are certainly welcome to do it," he added. "I don’t know how far they will march that back. But I believe that all of us in this room are the unique creations of a God who knows us and loves us and who created us for his own purpose."

Women's libidos and "Uncle Sugar"

Speaking at a Republican National Committee function in Washington one year ago, Huckabee accused Democrats of "insult[ing] the women of America" by supporting their right to access birth control.

"If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it," Huckabee told the gathering.

Abortion: worse than the Holocaust

Huckabee's egregious statements on women's issues extend beyond contraceptive access. During an overseas trip with a group of conservative pastors late last year, Huckabee insinuated that abortion is an atrocity even worse than the Holocaust.

“If you felt something incredibly powerful at Auschwitz and Birkenau over the 11 million killed worldwide and the 1.5 million killed on those grounds, cannot we feel something extraordinary about 55 million murdered in our own country in the wombs of their mothers?” he asked.

Huckabee has also invoked Nazi Germany to attack gun control.

Blaming school shootings on secularism

Whatever one thinks about Huckabee, don't let it be said that the man lacks chutzpah. When it comes to mass shooting incidents, Huckabee is one of the last public figures who should be opening his mouth; as Arkansas governor, citing the prisoner's born-again Christianity, Huckabee pardoned inmate Maurice Clemons, who years later shot and killed four police officers in Parkland, Washington.

Depleted as his credibility on shooting incidents was, Huckabee nonetheless felt compelled to weigh in on the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School with an especially repugnant claim. Huckabee's major takeaway from the shooting had nothing to do with gun safety reforms or mental health care. Instead, Huckabee argued that school shootings were the predictable consequences of having "systematically removed God from our schools."

"We ask why there is violence in our schools but we have systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?" he said on Fox News. "Because we've made it a place where we don't want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability -- that we're not just going to have be accountable to the police if they catch us, but one day we stand before, you know, a holy God in judgment."

By Luke Brinker

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