Obama Shrugs Off Huckabee’s Iran Criticism

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (Tribune Washington Bureau/TNS) -

President Barack Obama inserted himself deeply into the election season from this remote locale on Monday, blasting the political rhetoric of Republican presidential candidates and what he called a culture of “outrageous attacks” tolerated by the GOP.

He singled out the charge from White House hopeful, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who said that through the proposed international nuclear deal with Iran, Obama “will take the Israelis and basically march them to the door of the oven.” The president called Huckabee’s stark comparison to the Holocaust “part of a general pattern that would be considered ridiculous if it weren’t so sad.

Obama has remained tight-lipped about the back-and-forth within the Republican presidential field until now, but the question about Huckabee during a news conference here unleashed a flood of sentiment that made clear he has been closely following this early stage of next year’s election.

With his indictment of candidates and party leaders in the middle of his five-day trip to Africa, he waded into the campaign conversation and suggested that he is doing so out of concern about who will succeed him.

Republican leaders are “shocked,” Obama said, when tycoon Donald Trump, who’s leading the GOP field in polls, questions the heroism of Republican Sen. John McCain, a prisoner of war in Vietnam. “Yet that arises out of a culture where those kinds of outrageous attacks have become far too commonplace and get circulated nonstop through the Internet and talk radio and news outlets,” the president said.

Huckabee may have simply been trying to push Trump out of the headlines, Obama said, adding that that doesn’t reflect positively on his leadership.