Huckabee weighs in on recent Michelle Obama criticism
February 24th, 2011
11:54 AM ET

Huckabee weighs in on recent Michelle Obama criticism

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Mike Huckabee, the former and quite possibly future Republican presidential candidate, has come out once again in support of Michelle Obama's anti-obesity program after a series of attacks on the program launched by conservatives.

Huckabee, who has publicly battled weight issues himself, told a group of reporters at a meeting sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor that "her approach is the right one," and that she has been "criticized unfairly" by conservatives.

"I think it's out of a reflex rather than out of a thoughtful expression. And that's one of the things that bugged me most about the political environment today – we don't have to believe everything the other side proposes is immediately and all together bad," he said.

Huckabee has been a public supporter of Mrs. Obama's program, even holding an event with the first lady and hosting her on his FOX News program to discuss the healthy choices initiative. 

"The reason I have been very vocal, even doing an event with her and publicly speaking out for her initiative, is because it's exactly what Republicans say they believe: that you put a focus on individual responsibility, you encourage people to make good choices, and you reward them for doing so. I thought that's what we were about," he explained.

Huckabee even went as far as to say that the country should be thanking, even praising the first lady for her efforts.

Below is a transcript of his remarks.

I still think that her approach is the right one. I do not think she's out there advocating that the government take over our dinner plates. In fact she's not. She's been criticized unfairly by a lot of my fellow conservatives. I think it's out of a reflex rather than out of a thoughtful expression. And that's one of the things that bugged me most about the political environment today – we don't have to believe everything the other side proposes is immediately and all together bad. And the reason I have been very vocal, even doing an event with her and publicly speaking out for her initiative, is because it's exactly what Republicans say they believe: that you put a focus on individual responsibility, you encourage people to make good choices, and you reward them for doing so. I thought that's what we were about. She does not, in the Let's Move campaign, dictate what families do with their own children. She doesn't say, "you can't have a cookie. You can't have a birthday cake.'  That's not anywhere in her program. The one thing I think she's been criticized for maybe by some is that she's asking for or insisting upon or pushing for that school lunches and school breakfasts offer healthier choices. Well, the federal government's already spending that money. You know we can argue whether or not you ought to have a school breakfast  – it's a point I make in the book. I talk about the whole school breakfast program, but the conclusion is, if you don't feed these kids, it's the only food they're going to get. But if you're going to feed them, we've already made that decision, and if USDA is going to subsidize the food that goes into their plates, then shouldn't it be healthier food? And here's a couple things that are pretty startling – 75% of the kids who are recruit-age for the military cannot pass the physical because they're obese by Army standards. If you really want to talk about obesity, let's talk about it as a national security issue. It's an economic issue, but it is a national security issue because at the trend we're going, we better hope we don't have a war with anybody because we're not going to have anybody who can pass the physical to wear the uniform. That's pretty scary. So, rather than us condemn Michelle Obama, I think we ought to be thanking her and praising her for what she's done.

Topics: Michelle Obama • The Buzz

soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. Mark Montgomery

    I love to see the Republicans in circular firing squads. First of all Huckabee and Romney are both losers and have zero chance of beating Barack Obama in 2012. I think it is telling about Huckabee's character that he is attacking a health care system that has helped folks in Massachusetts. Republicans don't want anything good to happen to the middle class, they just want the middle class to die quietly. The more Republicans run their mouths the more sure I am that Barack Obama, the best president since Reagan, is guaranteed 4 more years in 2012. Keep running your traps Huckabee and Romney, I dare you. Mark Montgomery NYC, NY

    February 24, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Bill

      at least they accept diversity..... They seem to allow different points of view.... You don't! 😉

      February 25, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • Betty

      You were going to vote Obama any way ,People can see threw all that states things like you did .Hes been your choice from the get go .So vote Obama and when it all goes to crap we know who to blame .

      February 28, 2011 at 11:49 am |
      • Langley Whickersham

        Have you been under a rock for the past 3 years, all went to Hell, and we know it was Bush and the Republicans failed policies to blame not Obama. The economy is growing now not shrinking and the housing market has stabilized and banks are loaning money. GM is making money and we have withdrawn our troops from Iraq. Maybe its you that needs to wake up!

        March 3, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
      • Blanca

        The electoral map faorvs Willard far less. Huckabee will have the second best Super Tuesday after McCain.Not a chance. Huckabee has no money and little positive press. He can't carry a majority of evangelicals.Romney is the second choice of most Fredheads. Fred's departure helps him and McCain, not Huckabee.Without a doubt. But an anti-McCain candidate will emerge beyond Super Tuesday. Most sane people expect that person to be Mike Huckabee.Then who do you think it will be?It helps Romney because Romney has been doing more to court conservative voters. It helps McCain by eliminating one competitor as he consolidates his strength. Huckabee isn't going to be the anti-McCain because Huckabee has little credibility with anti-McCain voters. People who see McCain as too liberal aren't going to turn to someone who's more liberal than McCain is.If anyone can stop McCain it will be Romney, but even his money may not be enough. Then again, Rassmussen has him up in Florida, so anything is possible.So basically, when you say most sane people you mean you. And your insanity has already been proven over and over again.

        July 30, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Mary

      Mark, I hope you're wrong. This country can't afford in any way 4 more years of Mr. Obama. This is not a republicans vs dems – it's about the imploding of this country over programs and bills and such shoved down Americans throats that have done nothing but cause more chaos, raise the costs of healthcare for the majority of Americans and actually created a huge divide in communities across this nation. Do you not think that there are millions of republicans who are also middle class? If you think Obama is the best president since Reagan – I'm sorry for you. To call him best at anything other than giving speeches – would be a stretch. I'm Independent and have strongly regretted my decision to try to give this man a chance as his promises of change have devastated this country. He brought change alright and it's been the worst since Reagan that's for sure.

      March 1, 2011 at 1:04 am |
      • D

        Who said Reagan was a good President

        March 2, 2011 at 11:53 am |
      • Langley Whickersham

        Mary my friend, the country was already divided before Obama took office, did you already forget the last President's controversial policies. (1) War with Iraq (no WMDs) (2) No Child Left behind, one of the worst policies ever, (3) No bid contracts, (3) De regulation of Wall Street and the housing market, that directly lead to the collaps, (5) Wall Street, AIG, GM baillout started by Bush. Talk about dividing the country!

        March 3, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Muhamed

      Bottom line is this….after more than seven years of ridiculing lierbals for, in your mind, irrational attacks against anything related to George W. Bush, you’re proving yourself just as petty as any Bush-basher as you cherry-pick criticisms against your political enemies. In other words, yer a big ol’ phony!You just convince yourself of that. My critique of Huckabee is substantive: he's unprepared for the Office of the President and he did a poor job of party-building in Arkansas. The critiques of Bush are truly deranged.Not to mention how the left suddenly has realized that the Clintons are amoral scoundrels after decades of covering for them the irony of that is glorious

      July 31, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  2. gary walter

    Gov. Huckabee's defense of Michelle Obama shows a thoughtful rather than a knee-jerk reaction. I think such thoughtfulness would be great in a President- I 'd like to see Huckabee elected in 20012.

    February 24, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • fayse

      really, 20012? I realize that must have been typo or, perhaps it was a freudian slip. In any case, while I respect him for breaking with his base to come to the defense of our first lady, He is stll unelectable. The GOP has no one that can beat the President and it is driving them even crazier, it that is possible.

      February 24, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
      • USA101

        Ummm idk wat ur talking about but obama's supporters have went down by well over 65% so i dont think that the republican party has anything to worry about 😉

        February 24, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
      • MCA

        USA101 – Clinton had a worse approval at the same point in his first term, and he'd lost ALL of congress in the 94 midterm. We all know he got his second term, so obviously a low-ish approval isn't indicative of a loss.

        February 25, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
      • Bill

        Democratice party line number 101....

        February 25, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
      • mark

        ummm USA101-– must watch fox news obviously. how can obamas supporters go downby 65%. fuzzy math there. even bush support couldn't go down by that much. come on now!!!!

        February 25, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
    • Bob


      Ummm idk wat ur talking about but obama's supporters have went down by well over 65% so i dont think that the republican party has anything to worry about 😉 "

      Is that so?

      February 25, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
      • Anja

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        August 1, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • annie s

      I think Huckabee must be a good guy and I'm grateful that he didn't jump on the idiotic bandwagon of dumping on our First Lady for trying to promote a healthy eating....but President? No thanks. No thanks to ANY Republicans. They simply don't how to move America forward and keep it competitive on the world stage in the years to come. Banning abortion, leaving millions of Americans to die needlessly due to lack of health insurance, and doing everything possible to destroy the middle class are not formulas for success. Barack Obama has my vote.

      February 26, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • Geo S

      Huckabee is a religious zealot who would be 'moved by scripture' to make his pronouncements. We do not need more of that in our country. We need level-headed leadership.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
  3. XWngLady

    I can't believe it. I actually agree with almost everything he said. Amazing.

    February 24, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • Betty

      Dont take hukie boy serious hes just running for president and hes sucking up as much as he can to get your vote .

      February 28, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  4. Stupididea

    FINALLY some one on the other side has grown a set big enough to tell the big bag of gas & the loser from Alaska the truth about the First Lady's campaign against obesity, and on the other side of the heath care problems that come with obesity the right tells the country, I have my insurance but so sorry that you can't afford insurance, THANK YOU Mr. Huckabee, not that it will make any difference at all because all the kool-aid drinkers on the right don't want to hear the truth, they just want Obama to fail and not what is best for the country

    February 24, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • Bill

      Democratice party line number 110

      February 25, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  5. Andy, PA

    I agree with gary walter. All the way through. I have always found Mr. Huckabee a compassionate and well-meaning fair-minded individual. I disagree with Mr. Huckabee on many issues – so I too hope that Huckabee is elected in 20012!

    February 24, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • LA

      LMBO! Nice catch, Andy!

      February 25, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • TT

      LMAO!! That made my night!! thanks!

      February 26, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • Geo S

      We do not need a religious zealot making our decisions for us because Jesus would say so.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • Ali

      What's going on? Simply put: the piggies at the troguh know that Ron Paul is serious about putting K Street out of business and ending spending on a fundamental, radical level. I don't know how much he'd actually be able to accomplish but you can bet nobody wants to find out. That they are going to such lengths to marginalize and silence the man speaks volumes. I'm not raging Ron Paul fan but it's pretty clear they're pulling out all the stops to keep him from going anywhere.

      July 30, 2012 at 11:28 am |
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      August 1, 2012 at 2:56 am |
  6. yoda

    His most important point is this: "I think it's out of a reflex rather than out of a thoughtful expression. And that's one of the things that bugged me most about the political environment today – we don't have to believe everything the other side proposes is immediately and all together bad." Too often, people from both ends of the political spectrum do exactly as he explains. They have the mentality that the other side is 100% wrong 100% of the time and don't bother to actually think it through. Show me someone who is man or woman enough to look at each issue on it's face rather than draw their conclusions based on label associated with it, and I'll show you someone who at least can be trusted to think things through before deciding what is right and what is wrong. People who do this have credibility while mental lightweights such as Palin, Limbaugh, Carvell, and Coulter are nothing more than political hacks whose opinions aren't worth the space they occupy or the oxygen they consume.

    February 24, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
  7. mike4ever

    More republicans would do the same but they are so afraid of the teaparty movement that they have to hide and be quiet. That is going to be their downfall. I don't look for Huckabee to give it a good run this time around but I do believe the next after Obama is reelected, I have a strong feeling Huckabee is going to change to democrat and may stand a chance of being vp with anothe r person.

    The new republicans is so bent on pleasing the teaparties and their movement that they will keep making very bad decisions that is going to costt them to lose a lot more seats than the democrats did. Instead of doing what they promised their followers, they continue with the same old same old but to a deeper level to where all the world is beginning to see. In a sense I feel bad for those who elected them but they will have to deal with what they elected like the rest of us, so they need to come out of hiding and get on the ride side to correct the wrong that they create.

    It is time for those who want to live in the past to realize that the past is just that the past and no one in their right mind want to go back to those days when things was not as good as we pretend they were. It is time for all us to be together and work together to improve our future.

    February 24, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
  8. Melissa

    It's a national defense issue? Really? More war-mongering from Republicans.

    February 25, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • BhamRandy

      in the context he used... yes would be the correct answer...

      February 25, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • Bill

      Do you have at least 2 brain cells? Try rubbing them together maybe it will excite them enought for you to have a coherent thought. The only catch is you have to find them first!

      February 25, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  9. Todd M

    This is thoughtful discourse I can support. Iam tired of all the nutjobs on the far right and left that just decry everything the other side says out of kneejerk or conditioned response. This is what the 40% of the poeple in the middle want. Stop calling each other enemies, socialists, racists or whatever. Start trying to work together or you'll be out of office as quick as we put you in.

    By all means, don't think that most of the tea partiers were voted in because we agree with everything they say. Once again it was looking for the better option avaialble after the people before failed.

    February 25, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • Bill

      at last ... someone in the middle.

      February 25, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • yoda

      Yes, when someone like Huckabee or Lieberman or even the former John McCain (when he was known as a maverick) has the courage to stand up and say, "the other side is right this time" it suggests that they have put some real thought into reaching their conclusion. It is not easy to buck the party line and to do so is not done lightly and not without thought. Consequently, the people do so give me impression that even though I might not agree with some or many of their positions, at least I have confidence that they have arrived at their positions with the same higher level of thought and not simply as the result of the republican or democrat label associated with that particular issue/position. I can respect that. For those who toe the party line 100% of the line I have little confidence that they have actually thought long and hard about the positions they have taken, preferring instead to simply parrot the position expected of a republican or democrat.

      February 25, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  10. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Just more truth MR HUCKABEE! Thank you for your fair and truthful honesty, about MICHELLE OBAMAS' efforts. Anyone who had a grain of sense shouldn't have had to be told thiisin the first place; DEMOCRAT OR REPUBLICAN! The ongoing hateful tirade against her has been brewed obviously, through mean-spiritedness, divisiveness, and sabotage! PRESIDENT 2012? I don't know; but if a Republican wins at all, and I doubt it; (The Teaparty's poisoned many of your positions on the issues), you may be a pretty good one!

    February 25, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • Jay in NC

      Remember what The First Date said when asked about her position as the U.S. president’s wife: ‘Don’t ask! It’s hell. I can’t stand it!’. This is one angry woman, ready to explode and take revenge. She does not like Barry or this country.

      February 25, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
      • arduck

        J, u sound like the angry one. Just projecting it on the 1st Lady to get ur feel-good on. Hope it worked. I find her position on the issue spot on. Any criticism is just hate.

        February 27, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  11. Rosie

    To Jay in NC, I think you are one of the knee-jerk reactors that Huckabee is talking about. Nothing that Michelle Obama has said for the past three years has even hinted that she might not like America. Where do you find this stuff to chatter about.

    Huckabee is a Republican. I imagine you are also one based on your comment. His comments are supported by really strong reasoning whilst yours are not. Do you support Rush Limbaugh, who sits there considerably overweight and throws brickbats at Michelle Obama. What has he ever done for this country that is positive. From what I understand, he has not been a very faithful husband and wasn't he brought up on drug charges, even asking a maid to get them for him. How can you stand this man representing your party.

    February 25, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  12. Dontbow

    Wow the only support you see for the GOP on cnn is when someone sticks up for the obama's. What a moronic network and full of suckup demorats. That must be part of the hiring clause. Are you dumb enough to believe that the demorats are saving this country by blaming others even when they are in control. Take responsiblity and man up to some real reporting instead the the obama love stories.

    February 25, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
    • arduck

      and what support for the Democratic Party do you find on Fox?

      February 27, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
  13. Liz Carter in Georgia

    @yoda; well stated. Thanks.

    February 25, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
  14. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Jay, 'She does not like 'Barry' or this country'! Have you slipped on over the cuckkoos nest? That woman only said it was 'hell' trying to keep everything in the right perspective as a wife, mother and FIRST LADY, to the PRESIDENT. There have been many FIRST LADIES who have voiced that same level of frustration at one time or the other! She did not say she couldn't stand it and she was not 'angry'! You love to blow things out of proportion and make things appear bigger than they are! You ought to be ashamed

    February 25, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
  15. Newmoon2

    I'm impressed with Huckabee's remarks. Thoughtful, civil discourse is exactly what's missing these day and what we should all be demanding!

    February 26, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  16. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Mine too, annie s; he's got mine too.

    February 26, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  17. Debbie in TN

    I am conservative, raised to be a Republican. BUT, I was also raised to be kind, considerate, and polite–to respect other's opinions, and to treat others the way I would like to be treated. I know, in my heart of hearts, that there are a lot more like me out there. You are sick of the character assassination, the personal bashing, and the just plain ugliness on both sides of the fence. You know why Ronald Reagan was so respected by both parties? Because no matter what circumstance or situation came his way, he was a class act–wit, humor, and even if he totally disagreed with you, you came away with a sense that you were still valued as a human being–with a right to your own opinion. That's my kind of politician–and leader.

    February 27, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  18. tel

    Well stated Huckabee, This is one of the few statements made by my Republican party since its take over by the ultra right, that I agree with. Mike is a true leader, as opposed to so many Republicans like dumb Palin, 2-faced Gingrich who follow the sway of the false profits of Limbag and Becky. I want my old Republican Party back!!!

    February 28, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • Jay in NC

      I have never heard a Republican call their party members names. You must be a Liberal plant.

      February 28, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Geo S

      I always heard Blush Lintbag, but yours works too.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  19. Betty

    Tel is hard core democrat .and some of the things im reading is crap and people that dont have a clue to what is happening .But to get Obama out ill vote for anyone to see him gone .

    February 28, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  20. Beccaj

    I"m a Demacrat who has always thought Huckabee to be an intelligent, thoughtful and reasonable man with class.
    Something the rest of his party lacks. If a republican were to win, please let it be Huckabee!

    February 28, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  21. tnwoman1948

    Huckabee is a sneaky snake. I still remember this "man of the cloth" standing before the NRA during the 2008 primary campaign joking about then Senator Obama dodging a bullet when an object fell in the background. Google the incident. He is fooling quite a few people including some gullible Democrats.

    February 28, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
  22. Liz Carter in Georgia

    That's right, Arduck! They hate any body or any media outlet that supports or gives the PRESIDENT, his family, his constituents, his supporters, his suggestions, his decisions, political or private, an INKLING of ANYTHING that may be construed as a good thing or positive! FOX, LIMBAUGH, COULTER, GRAHAM, and many other TV or radio stations NEVER do! So when CNN, MSNBC, NEW YORK TIMES, or a few outlets that do try to be 'fair & balanced' and give credit where it's due, those demons just HATE them for it! SAD

    March 1, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  23. BostonBill

    I'm relieved to read some of these postings. I'm a proud liberal. I may disagree with Mr.Huckabee but given his presentation in this article I'm willing to listen. I'm tired of the name calling from both sides. I've read many comments from "conservatives" about how liberals are stupid and just want a hand out. I've worked all my life. I served in Vietnam. I've never been on any kind of public assistance. I pay my share of taxes. (Actually I'm middle class so I've probably paid more then my fair share.)..I really don't think all conservatives are racist. I believe there are solutions on both sides. I'm fearful zealots of any kind. Again I'll probably vote fer President Obama in 2012 but it can be a better race if there are 2 reasonable people running. So far I think Mr. Huchabee would be a worthy opponent

    March 1, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  24. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Yes, Mr Whickersham! THEY ALL FORGOT! They selectively forgot what and who set this whole cauldron called AMERICA on fire! That's exactly why I work so hard to come out here and REMIND them often! They get fighting mad; but I don't care! If I could REMIND them to their faces, I would! I'm just like the confederate REBELS, when they lost the CIVIL WAR to the YANKEES! Down SOUTH, they still fly that old REBEL FLAG in many venues, and place banners in restaurants, etc, claiming 'HELL NAW, I AINT FERGETTIN'!

    March 17, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  25. Emilia

    Romney is the second chocie of most Fredheads Have any figures to back that up? People who see McCain as too liberal aren’t going to turn to someone who’s more liberal than McCain is. The far-reaching effect of Rovism, particularly the elevation of evangelicals to kingmaker status, is that conservatism as you understand it has undergone a wholesale transformation that you're not even aware of. Those most likely to identify themselves as very conservative favor are most likely to support Huckabee. In the minds of these voters, conservatism is all about whose family values more closely resembles those they hear from the pulpit, and has absolutely nothing to do with cutting capital gains tax or railing against an increase in the minimum wage. To these very conservative voters, Willard isn't even really on the radar screen .and no amount of condescension coming from or from America's corporate boardroom is gonna convince them that your definition of conservatism is more real than theirs. If anyone can stop McCain it will be Romney, but even his money may not be enough. Then again, Rassmussen has him up in Florida, so anything is possible. I won't rule Willard out, and if he does in fact pull out a win in Florida, he could really generate some desperately needed momentum for himself. But Willard's strategy of buying his way into the nomination has failed him so far, and after Florida, his ability to saturate the local airwaves with his mug will no longer be practical. If Willard fails to prove his viability in Florida, he has nowhere to go. Even if Huckabee doesn't win Florida, he'll go onto win several primaries on Super Tuesday. That's the difference. And your insanity has already been proven over and over again. Yet I've been far closer to right than you time after time after time. If I'm insane, what does that make you?

    July 30, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  26. Ajay

    Sarah:I was just looking onnlie to see when the next episode of jack of diamonds was airing. the first one left me wanting more and more!!! This has been the best show come out of Canada since Wild Roses!! Don't miss out on another great show KEEP JACK OF DIAMONDS COMING!!!

    August 1, 2012 at 4:38 am |