Did Huckabee need to use the Holocaust reference?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," July 27, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This president's foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. He is so naive he would trust the Iranians, and he would take the Israelis and basically march them to the door of the oven.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The particular comments of Mr. Huckabee are, I think, part of just a general pattern that we have seen that is -- would be considered ridiculous if it weren't so sad.


BAIER: President Obama reacting to Mike Huckabee's criticism on Iran. On the hour before us, Governor Huckabee was on "The Five" where he did not back down. He doubled down:


HUCKABEE: I will not apologize and I will not recant because the word "Holocaust" was invoked by the Iranian government. The Iranian government -- we're not talking about a blogger here. We are talking about the Iranian government has repeatedly said that it's going to be easier to take the Jews out because they are all concentrated in Israel. We won't have to go all over the world and hunt them. When people who are in a government position continue to say they are going to kill you, I think somebody ought to walk up and take that seriously.


BAIER: OK. We're back with the panel. Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look, two points. As a general principle, the Holocaust is such an act of incandescent, unfathomable evil that it should not be invoked lightly. And second, the formulation that Huckabee had which is that Obama was marching the Israelis to the door of the oven had the implication, it wasn't intended, but it could be interpreted that Obama is doing it deliberately. You can argue he doesn't understand the gravity, et cetera. So I think in that sense those were not the words he should have used.

Nonetheless, the idea that somehow there is something utterly impermissible about invoking the Holocaust in this case because it's some kind of wild analogy, this is a reality. The Iranians are obsessed with the Holocaust.
A few years ago they had a cartoon contest to ridicule the Holocaust because they contend it never occurred. And yet the former president, the moderate, has described Israel as a one-bomb country, meaning small, compact, small population, can be wiped out with a small nuclear weapon.

Iran has made clear its intent to wipe Israel off the map and now it's in the process of acquiring the means of doing that. And I think it's extremely important to recognize the uniqueness of this deal because Israel
-- all the neighbors of Iran are scared and afraid of the deal and worried about it, but Israel is the only country on earth openly threatened with annihilation. No other country on earth is. So this is a real possibility. It's not as if the Iranians are not going to drop the bomb tomorrow, but the Israelis would have to live under that threat forever if this deal is enacted and Iran acquires the bomb.

BAIER: Juan, your favorite GOP candidate, Senator Ted Cruz, says he emphatically stands with Governor Huckabee and Prime Minister Netanyahu on this issue and using that phrase.

JUAN WILLIAMS, THE HILL: I just think it's reprehensible. I just think it's shocking that people feel that they have the need to raise up such a historical atrocity and suggest that the president of the United States, even if he is from the opposing party, is trying to commit such an act again.

Charles and I disagree about the nuclear deal, and, you know, we can disagree forever. But I don't think anybody would argue that this is not about the substance of the issue. This is about presidential politics and Mike Huckabee trying to get his numbers up to get in the FOX debate.

BAIER: Well, his numbers are up. Again, looking at that poll, he is fifth in that Real Clear Politics average of polls. Jeb Bush on Huckabee today said "I think we need to tone down the rhetoric for sure. I have been to Israel not as many times as Mike Huckabee, who I respect, but the use of that kind of language is wrong. This is not the way we are going to win elections. That's not how we are going to solve problems. So it's unfortunate remark. I'm not sure why he felt compelled to say it."

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: He should not have said the part, as Charles says, about the president leading Jews to the door of the oven. That said, Huckabee is right that rhetoric should be taken seriously, sometimes especially when it is the particular candor of the dictator. In 1939, as Europe fell into war, Hitler said in the Reichstag that if the Jews perpetrate a world war it will mean the destruction of the European Jewry, and it did. So taking this rhetoric seriously matters.

And for those of us, and I count myself as one of these, who say, look, the deal is a terrible deal but Iran is going to get a nuclear weapon or we better start thinking how to deter them, one of the problems is gaging the fanaticism of the anti-Semitism of their regime, because, as Hitler demonstrated, he would sacrifice everything, including pushing back the Russians on the eastern front, to continue with the Holocaust.

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