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Mike Huckabee's Dog Whistle To The Birthers: Says Obama Grew Up In Kenya

Reported by Ellen - March 2, 2011 -

Mike Huckabee may have just blown his chance at the presidency with his shockingly ignorant comments about President Obama’s “troubling” “perspective” due to his “growing up in Kenya... because he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather.” Although Huckabee said he was “not as confident” that Obama was not born in the U.S., his remarks were clearly a dog whistle to the birthers as well as a blatant attempt to pander to the “He’s not on the side of America” meme that is so prevalent on Fox. Later, a Huckabee spokesperson said he had “confused” Kenya for Indonesia. But that excuse just doesn’t wash. UPDATED with correction.

Huckabee’s comments were made during The Steve Malzberg Show on WOR radio.

Malzberg asked, "Don't you think it's fair also to ask (Obama) – I know your stance on this. How come we don't have a health record? We don't have a college record, we don't have a birth cer – why, Mr. Obama, did you spend millions of dollars in courts all over this country to defend against having to present a birth certificate? It's one thing to say, ‘I've, you've seen it, goodbye.’ But why go to court and send lawyers to defend against having to show it? Don't you think we deserve to know more about this man?"

Huckabee, instead of dismissing Malzberg’s conspiracy theory, pandered to it.

I would love to know more. What I know is troubling enough. And one thing that I do know is his having grown up in Kenya, his view of the Brits, for example, very different than the average American. When he gave the bust back to the brits… the bust of Winston Churchill – a great insult to the British. But then if you think about it, his perspective as growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather – their view of the Mau Mau Revolution in Kenya is very different than ours because he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather.

Malzberg continued with the birther theme. "(Obama) despises the west, he despises the Brits, and I think he could take it all out on Israel and that's why he despises Israel. He's not too thrilled with our history either. But let me just try to get an answer from you. Would you say to him, or at least ask him in a debate, why did you go to court and spend millions of dollars on lawyers to prevent from having to show your birth certificate. If you have one and it's there, why not show it?"

Again, rather than state flatly that Obama is an American citizen, Huckabee merely said he’s “not as confident” that Obama isn’t.

The only reason I'm not as confident that there's something about the birth certificate, Steve, is because I know the Clintons… and believe me, they had lots of investigators out on him, and I'm convinced if there was anything that they could have found on that, they would have found it, and I promise they would have used it.

As ABC News noted, this contradicts Huckabee's earlier stance on Good Morning America in which he dismissed birtherism as "nonsense" and said, "For Republicans to even be bringing it up, I think it's a waste of energy and time."

Later, a Huckabee spokesman issued this statement to Politico:

"Governor Huckabee simply misspoke when he alluded to President Obama growing up in ‘Kenya.’ The Governor meant to say the President grew up in Indonesia."

“When the Governor mentioned he wanted to know more about the President, he wasn’t talking about the President’s place of birth – the Governor believes the President was born in Hawaii. The Governor would however like to know more about where President Obama’s liberal policies come from and what else the President plans to do to this country – as do most Americans.”

So if Huckabee meant to say that Obama grew up in Indonesia, why was he troubled about the president’s views on the Mau Mau uprising? Why would Huckabee think that Obama “grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather?” But even if Huckabee really, truly meant to say “Indonesia,” it’s clear he does not know much about Obama. President Obama not only didn’t grow up with his father and grandfather, he never knew his Kenyan father well. Furthermore, Obama did not return the bust of Winston Churchill to the British; Obama moved it from the Oval Office to the residence.

Correction: It appears I was misinformed about the Churchill bust. Obama did return it but, as Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post noted, the story is murkier than Huckabee and Malzberg laid out.

UPDATE: Huckabee appeared on The O'Reilly Factor 3/2/11 with another failed "explanation," in yet another episode of Fox News Republican Rehab.

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