Politics

Huckabee targets contraceptives

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee sat down for lunch before speaking at the Republican National Committee winter meeting in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014.

Susan Walsh/AP

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee sat down for lunch before speaking at the Republican National Committee winter meeting in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014.

WASHINGTON — Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee told fellow Republicans on Thursday that rival Democrats were trying to win over female voters by promising them birth control and telling them they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government.

Huckabee made the comment as he was making a pitch that the GOP needs to broaden its appeal and end its internal divisiveness.

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Huckabee, a favorite of Christian conservatives and a Fox News personality, told the Republican Party’s leaders and activists that purity tests within the party only shrink the ranks. His speech about expanding the appeal of the GOP, designed to whet the 168-member Republican National Committee’s appetite for a Huckabee 2016 campaign, won a quick rebuke from the White House over contraception.

Asked about Huckabee’s comments, press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at the White House that it ‘‘sounds offensive to me and to women.’’

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In private meetings and public speeches Huckabee has been offering a prescription for Republicans to expand their reach after losing the 2008 and 2012 presidential contests.

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