Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, on Monday rebuked fellow candidate Mike Huckabee for invoking the Holocaust in criticizing President Barack Obama over the nuclear agreement with Iran, The New York Times reported.
Bush argued that Republicans needed “to tone down the rhetoric” if they hoped to recapture the White House next year, according to the newspaper.
“The use of that kind of language is just wrong,” Bush was quoted as having told reporters after a town-hall-style meeting in Orlando, Florida.
“This is not the way we’re going to win elections and that’s not how we’re going to solve problems. So, unfortunate remark — not quite sure why he felt compelled to say it,” he added, according to The New York Times.
“Look, I’ve been to Israel, not as many times as Mike Huckabee, who I respect,” Bush added. He also sandwiched his critique of Huckabee’s comments around denunciations of the nuclear agreement itself, which he called “horrific” at the outset and “a bad deal” in conclusion.
Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and a staunch supporter of Israel, said over the weekend that Obama’s policy on Iran would “take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”
The comments were criticized by Obama himself earlier on Monday. Speaking during a visit to Ethiopia, Obama responded to Huckabee, saying, “[It] would be considered ridiculous if it weren’t so sad.”
“Maybe this is just an effort to push Mr. [Donald] Trump out of the headlines,” he added, “but it is not the kind of leadership that is needed in America right now.”
Obama also lashed out at other insults hurled at him and his administration.
“We’ve had a sitting senator call [Secretary of State] John Kerry ‘Pontius Pilate,’ ” Obama said. “We’ve had a sitting senator who also happens to be running for president suggest that I’m the leading state sponsor of terrorism. These are leaders in the Republican Party."
"It is not the kind of leadership that is needed in America right now," he added.
Huckabee was unfazed by Obama’s criticism, saying later on Monday that the President does not take the Iran nuclear threat seriously.
"What's 'ridiculous and sad' is that President Obama does not take Iran's repeated threats seriously," Huckabee said. "For decades, Iranian leaders have pledged to 'destroy,' 'annihilate,' and 'wipe Israel off the map' with a 'big Holocaust.'"
"'Never again' will be the policy of my administration and I will stand with our ally Israel to prevent the terrorists in Tehran from achieving their own stated goal of another Holocaust," he declared.