LITTLE ROCK – Republican presidential candidate and Southern Baptist minister Mike Huckabee said Tuesday he will skip a Baptist conference organized by Jimmy Carter after the former president called the Bush administration the "worst in history."
The former Arkansas governor said he would not participate in the Baptist Covenant Program Celebration in Atlanta in January, scheduled to feature Carter and former President Clinton.
"Withdrawing from the gathering is one of the few ways that I can show my disappointment in the comments that were made this weekend," Huckabee said in a statement.
Huckabee criticized Carter for a statement he made to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for a Saturday story in which he said: "I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history."
That comment, Huckabee said, "violated an unspoken code that you don't make personal attacks on others who currently hold the job. You just don't."
Huckabee also criticized the roster of speakers for the conference, which will be held at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.
"I tentatively agreed to participate in the Baptist meeting with the understanding that it was a celebration of faith and not a political convocation," Huckabee said.
Carter, a Baptist, has since appeared to retreat from his comments criticizing Bush. Carter said Monday that when he made the comment, he was responding to a question comparing the Bush administration's foreign policy to that of Richard Nixon.
The White House has dismissed Carter as "increasingly irrelevant."