Huckabee jokes about Obama ducking gunman
Published: Friday May 16, 2008

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(Update: Huckabee later apologizes, claims joke about running for cover wasn't meant to offend Obama)

A top contender for the bottom half of the Republican presidential ticket cracked wise about the likely Democratic candidate on Friday.

Or perhaps not so wise.

"During a speech before the National Rifle Association convention Friday afternoon in Louisville, Kentucky, former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee who has endorsed presumptive GOP nominee John McCain joked that an unexpected offstage noise was Democrat Barack Obama looking to avoid a gunman," CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand reports at the cable network's Political Ticker.

"That was Barack Obama, he just tripped off a chair, he's getting ready to speak," said the former Arkansas governor, to audience laughter. "Somebody aimed a gun at him and he dove for the floor."

CBS News also reported on Huckabee's quip, and notes that "McCain, who's scheduled to speak at 4:30pm ET, is expected to take aim at Obama as well."

"Earlier in the day, at a town hall meeting in Watertown, S.D., Obama said he supports the Second Amendment," CBS' report continued.

"I want to be absolutely clear about this I will never take away the right of lawful gun owners to hunt and sport shooting, to protect their family. I recognize this is a traditional way of life in rural communities all across America, including my home state," said Obama. "I believe in the Second Amendment."

At Politico, Ben Smith observes about Huckabee's comments, "Joking about Obama getting shot at is probably not the fast track to veephood."

Huckabee issues apology

On Friday evening at around 7:30 PM, hours after his NRA speech, Huckabee issued a statement containing an apology, according to a New York Times report.

"During my speech at the N.R.A., a loud noise backstage, that sounded like a chair falling, distracted the crowd and interrupted my speech," Huckabee wrote. "I made an off hand remark that was in no way intended to offend or disparage Sen. Obama. I apologize that my comments were offensive. That was never my intention."

Before the apology, ABC 's Political Radar blog noted, "Huckabee was always quick on his feet on the campaign trail. There was the time the lights went out in the auditorium and he suggested it was a sign from God to wrap up his speech, or the time a cell phone rang in the audience and Huckabee suggested it might be a McCain supporter calling to tell him to leave the race. But, did this one cross the line? After all, a joke about Obama's safety runs a fine line given that Obama accepted Secret Service protection quite early in the race for fear of violence against him."

"The question remains, how might this effect Huckabee's chances at landing the coveted slot at the bottom of the GOP ticket?" ABC's Kevin Chupka asks. "Earlier in the week, a U.S. News and World Report blog quoted a top McCain fundraiser as saying Huckabee topped the list for potential GOP vice presidential candidates. After a week of buzz pertaining to just such a possibility, did Huckabee shoot himself in the foot today in front of the NRA? Perhaps only John McCain knows."

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