RYE, N.H. – In one of his first campaign stops in New Hampshire during this presidential primary season, Republican candidate Mike Huckabee said Friday that critics of his tweets about the Democratic debate need to “get a life.”
“They need to really, truly, get a life, three words – get a life – and a sense of humor,” Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, said, addressing those who have characterized his tweets during Tuesday’s Democratic debate as racist.
The controversy started when Huckabee tweeted, “I trust @BernieSanders with my tax dollars like I trust a North Korean chef with my labrador!”
The tweet, which referred to US Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, drew swift reaction from some who called it racist and offensive.
“Mike Huckabee Got Pretty Racist While Live-Tweeting The Dem Debate,” tweeted Black Lives Matter activist Johnetta “Netta” Elzie.
Huckabee continued to defend this and other tweets Friday after addressing a crowd of about 100 people at the New Hampshire Housing Summit at Saint Anselm College’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics.
If his critics think he’s a racist, Huckabee said, “then they are saying Larry David is a racist.” His comment referred to an episode of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm titled “The Korean Bookie,” in which David, the creator and star of the show, insinuates a meat dish, prepared by the Korean bookie, is made of a missing dog.
Huckabee said that if he needs to apologize, then David needs “to apologize not just to the entertainment industry, but to the whole world.”
One supporter of Huckabee who came to his defense was Wayne Dyer, 66, a Vermont campaign worker who said he is trying to collect 1,000 signatures by January so that the candidate qualifies for the Vermont ballot.
“I don’t think the governor is a racist,” Dyer said after learning about the tweets he sent.
Huckabee also responded to a question about the community college shooting in Oregon earlier this month that left 10 people dead.
“Tell me what law we can pass that keeps people from being mentally ill,” he said. “Tell me what law we can pass that causes people not to be mean. You can’t pass a law for that.”
In an interview after the deadly shooting, Huckabee said “sin and evil” were the root causes of the event.
On Friday, he added, “One of the challenges of living in a free and open society is that there’s some risk and erring in it.”
Later Friday, Huckabee spoke to about 50 people at a barbecue gathering hosted by former Republican Massachusetts senator Scott Brown, now a resident of Rye, N.H.
“I’m hoping and praying he’s elected,” said one guest, Kathy McNeill, 56, of Exeter.
Another guest, Bill Hagerty, 71, of Portsmouth, said, “I really like him,” after seeing Huckabee for the first time.
Huckabee has struggled in the race after finishing third in the 2008 Republican presidential primary in the state. He is currently polling at 2 percent and in ninth place among the GOP field of 15, according to a recent CBS News poll. He also ranked 10th among the candidates in the last quarter of fundraising, reporting that his campaign had raised $1.2 million.Robert Way can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.