On his first day in Ethiopia, President Obama criticized 2016 presidential contender and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee for comments he made over the weekend suggesting that the president is practically pushing the Israelis to the "door of the oven" with the new Iran nuclear deal.
"The particular comments of Mr. Huckabee are I think part of just a general pattern we've seen ... that would be considered ridiculous if it weren't so sad," Obama said in a joint press conference with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, reported ABC News.
Obama was referring to comments made by Huckabee in an interview with Breitbart News on Saturday.
"This president's foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians," Huckabee said. "By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven. This is the most idiotic thing, this Iran deal. It should be rejected by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress and by the American people. I read the whole deal. We gave away the whole store. It's got to be stopped."
Huckabee, who is currently in fifth place in a RealClearPolitics average of polls, went on to tout his comment on social media, even making a graphic highlighting the quote in bold.
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) July 26, 2015
During the press conference, Obama mused that Huckabee was upping his rhetoric in an attempt to win media attention that has predominately focused on real estate mogul Donald Trump.
"When you get rhetoric like this, maybe it gets attention, and maybe this is just an effort to push Mr. Trump out of the headlines, but it's not the kind of leadership that's needed for America right now," Obama said.
Trump has commandeered a sizable lead in the Republican primary polls following a series of controversial comments made in the past few weeks, including one about some illegal immigrants being rapists and one suggesting Sen. John McCain is not a war hero.
With the first Republican debate set for Aug. 6 and only the top 10 best-polling candidates allowed to attend, Huckabee and the 15 other Republican candidates are expected to continue to do everything they can to boost their polling numbers to secure a spot on stage.
Huckabee's Holocaust reference, however, may have gone a bit overboard, even drawing ire from the Anti-Defamation League.
"Whatever one's views of the nuclear agreement with Iran - and we have been critical of it, noting that there are serious unanswered questions that need to be addressed - comments such as those by Mike Huckabee suggesting the president is leading Israel to another Holocaust are completely out of line and unacceptable," the group's national director, Jonathan A. Greenblatt, said in a statement, reported NBC News.
Huckabee responded to Obama's comments in a statement released Monday:
"What's 'ridiculous and sad' is that President Obama does not take Iran's repeated threats seriously," Huckabee said, reports CNN. "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."