Mike Huckabee isn't backing down from his controversial comments on the deal with Iran, and said Tuesday that if he is elected president, he would not have a problem using the same language concerning other deals with the Middle Eastern country.
"The one thing I am absolutely assured of is that for 6,000 years, Jews have been hunted down and the last time the world did not take seriously threats against the Jewish people, just before World War II, this ended up in the murder of 6 million Jews," the former Arkansas governor and GOP presidential candidate
told NBC "Today" show host Matt Lauer.
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"We need to use strong words when people make strong threats against an entire group of people, as the Iranians have made toward the Jews," Huckabee said.
Over the weekend, Huckabee came under fire
for bringing the Holocaust into the presidential campaign by commenting on a satellite radio broadcast that President Barack Obama is "naive" and that by reaching a nuclear agreement this summer with Iran "he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven."
Huckabee said Tuesday that the response from Jewish people to his comment has been "overwhelmingly positive," and that he has heard positive comments from Holocaust survivors and their children.
He told Lauer that he was at a Jewish event on Monday, and was "probably one of four gentiles in the entire event ... people were overwhelmingly supportive."
"I have been to Auschwitz three times," Huckabee also said. "I have stood at that very place. I have been to Israel dozens of times."
However, Israeli Transport Minister Yisrael Katz said on Facebook
that it was wrong for Huckabee to refer to the Nazi gas chambers that killed millions of Jews while voicing alarm over the July 14 accord between world powers and Iran, which Israel has called a threat to its survival.
"Dear Mr. Huckabee, no one is marching Jews to the ovens anymore," Katz, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party, wrote. "That is why we established the State of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces, and if necessary, we will know how to defend ourselves by ourselves."
Huckabee pointed out that he's said similar comments over the past 42 years, having been in and out of Israel and having been a strong believer that the "reason that the Holocaust happened was because so many people naively believed Neville Chamberlain's ridiculous statement that we're going to bring peace in our time, and we ended up seeing 11 million people murdered, 6 (million) of whom who were Jews who were marched to those very ovens that I've stood in front of."
Huckabee also denied strongly that he made the comment as an attempt to draw attention away from Donald Trump, whose controversial statements have pushed him to the top of most national polls in recent weeks.
"My job is not to react to Donald Trump," Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, told Lauer. "My gosh, he's getting all the attention he needs without my help. I'll swim in my lane. I'll let Donald Trump swim in his."
On Monday, Huckabee told "Newsmax Prime" host J.D. Hayworth
that the deal is not only harmful to Israel, but also to the United States.
"It's the opening act, but the headliner is America," Huckabee told Hayworth. "Iran has never, ever hidden that their ultimate agenda is death to America. Why we sat down at the table with these guys, why we ever negotiated with terrorists makes no sense to me."
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