Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee says if he was president, he would use the same language when referring to potential deals with Iran — and that the response from Jewish people to his controversial comments has been "overwhelmingly positive."
"We need to use strong words when people make strong threats against an entire group of people as the Iranians have made toward the Jews," the former Arkansas governor said Tuesday in an interview with Matt Lauer.
Huckabee said he has received nothing but positive feedback from the group of people he supposedly has offended.
"The response from Jewish people have been overwhelming positive," he said, adding that he has even heard from Holocaust survivors and their children. He noted that at an event he attended Monday night, "I was probably one of four gentiles in the entire event — it was a Jewish event. People were overwhelmingly supportive."
A day earlier, Huckabee refused to apologize for criticizing President Obama's nuclear weapons deal with Iran by comparing it to the Holocaust.
"He would take the Israelis and basically march them to the door of the oven," he said in a recent interview about the plan.
Huckabee is one of 16 Republican candidates, but only the top-polling contenders will get a spot in the upcoming prime-time debate this year. Some pundits have questioned whether Huckabee's recent comments were part of an attempt to ratchet up the rhetoric to get noticed by potential voters, who according to polls favor Donald Trump.
Huckabee downplayed such talk. "My job is not to react to Donald Trump. My gosh, he's getting all the attention he needs without my help," he said.
Instead, he's focusing on his campaign and leaving his rivals to do the same.
"I'll swim in my lane. I'll let Donald Trump swim in his," he said.
This story originally appeared on TODAY.com