Mike Huckabee in Des Moines.

Mike Huckabee in Des Moines.

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is pushing back against the idea that he’s the main cause of the demise of the Iowa GOP’s Straw Poll.

“Well, gosh, I didn’t know I was that powerful,” Huckabee said this morning.

The Iowa Republican Party’s chairman told the National Journal there is “a lot of anger” about the “damage” Huckabee did when Huckabee announced in May that he would not participate in the event.

Huckabee pointed out today that he wasn’t the first to say he’d skip the event. Jeb Bush was. And Huckabee added that no other candidate had committed to participating either.

“There’s 17 candidates running for president and if I singularly killed the Straw Poll, then you should go ahead and declare me the Caucus winner because that’s a heck of a punch I must carry,” Huckabee said.

Huckabee finished second in the Iowa Republican Party’s Straw Poll eight years ago and he won the 2008 Caucuses. He’s committed to visiting each of Iowa’s 99 counties this time around.

“We’ve been now to over 30 (counties),” Huckabee told reporters. “We have county chairmen in over 60. We understand that the process in Iowa is the old-fashioned, just knock it out a county at a time, get structure and organization and that’s what we’re doing.”

Huckabee’s trip to Iowa comes after he made national headlines this past weekend by saying the proposed nuclear deal negotiated among six world powers and Iran would march Israelis “to the oven door.” Huckabee bristles at critics who’ve suggested he’s using the graphic reference to the Holocaust to try to stand out in a crowded field of candidates.


“They don’t know me very well. They don’t know that I’ve been Auschwitz three times. They have no idea how many times I’ve been to Israel. They have no idea about the passion I have for never, ever, ever wanting to see this horror repeated,” Huckabee said. “I have seen up close and personal what happens when people are naive and when they neglect the threats of a government that says: ‘We’re going to kill people,’ and I’m not going to do that.”

Huckabee met with reporters this morning outside WHO Radio studios in Des Moines and answered questions on a variety of topics, including the recent controversy over a video of Planned Parenthood representatives speaking about the use of aborted fetuses for medical research.

“Talking about it with such a cavalier and callous attitude is just numbing,” Huckabee said. “…It’s so cold and just inhumane.”

Beyond the discussion of ending all taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, to cover services like women’s health screenings, Huckabee said it’s time for a “more thorough discussion” of ending what he called the “scourge” of abortion.

AUDIO of Huckabee speaking with reporters this morning, 12:00

(Photo by Asya Akca)