Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee stood by controversial remarks he made in a Breitbart News interview published Saturday, in which he compared President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran to the Holocaust, during an appearance on Fox News' "The Five" on Monday.
Huckabee's claim that the agreement was akin to leading Israelis "to the door of the oven" has been condemned by several Jewish organizations, Hillary Clinton and Obama himself -- but that hasn't deterred the conservative Republican candidate for president.
"The last time the world did not take seriously threats that someone was going to kill massive amounts of Jews, we ended up seeing six million Jews murdered," Huckabee said on "The Five." "The Iranian government -- we're not talking about a blogger here, we're talking about the Iranian government -- has repeatedly said that it's gonna be easier to take the Jews out because they're all concentrated in Israel, we won't have to go all over the world and hunt them."
"Three times I’ve been to Auschwitz. When I talked about the oven doors, I have stood at that oven door, I know what exactly it looks like," Huckabee continued. "I will not apologize, and I will not recant, because the world holocaust was invoked by the Iranian government -- they use that very word."
In a separate statement released by his campaign, Huckabee took Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to task for criticizing his remarks on Iran. "How many murdered Israelis will it take for Hillary to express as much outrage at Iran as she did at my defense of Israel?" he asked rhetorically.
Although the nuclear deal has been opposed by all the 2016 GOP candidates in varying degrees, none have gone as far as Huckabee to link it with World War II and the Nazis. Shortly after the remark was made, the National Jewish Democratic Council called on members of the Republican Party to denounce Huckabee’s comments, saying they showed "utter, callous disregard for the millions of lives lost in the Shoah and to the pain still felt by their descendants today.” The Anti-Defamation League, a group that combats antisemitism, called the comments “completely out of line and unacceptable.”
However, the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE), appeared to support Huckabee's contention, if not his word choice.
“His remark about marching the Israelis to the door of the oven was a poor choice of words but reflects his understanding that Iran has threatened to annihilate Israel and this deal could give them the means to carry out that threat,” the group’s executive director, Mitchell Bard, said in a statement to msnbc.
Meanwhile, Jerry Klinger, president of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, told msnbc that “if you take a historic view on Huckabee’s comments, he’s right.”
This is not the first time Huckabee has generated controversy by linking the Holocaust to a contemporary issue. Last fall, he argued that abortion rights were worse than the Holocaust. “If you felt something incredibly powerful at Auschwitz and Birkenau over the 11 million killed worldwide and the 1.5 million killed on those grounds, cannot we feel something extraordinary about 55 million murdered in our own country in the wombs of their mothers?” he said during a speech to pastors in Poland.
Huckabee, who once served as a Baptist minister himself, is currently polling in the single digits for the GOP 2016 nomination.
Additional reporting by Anna Brand.