Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee mistakenly said President Obama was raised in Kenya during an interview yesterday in which he argued that the president’s upbringing in Africa gave him a very different outlook on the world than that held by most Americans.
WOR radio host Steve Malzberg asked the former Arkansas governor to weigh in on the “birther” debate. Huckabee sidestepped, saying: “I would love to know more, but what I know is troubling enough. And one thing that I do know is his having grown up in Kenya, his view of the Brits, for example’s very different than the average American.”
Huckabee later stated that Obama’s perspective was shaped by “growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather.” Listen to the complete audio here.
After the interview made the national news Tuesday, Huckabee’s team told ABC News that the governor simply misspoke and meant Indonesia, not Kenya. “Governor Huckabee simply misspoke when he alluded to President Obama growing up in ‘Kenya.’ The Governor meant to say the President grew up in Indonesia,” Huckabee’s political action committee director Hogan Gidley told ABC. However, Kenya was under British rule, while Indonesia was under Dutch control.
Much misinformation and controversy surround the president’s birth and childhood.
The president’s father was Kenyan, but met Obama’s mother in Hawaii where Obama was born. President Obama did spend a portion of his childhood in Indonesia before returning to Hawaii. Obama first visited Kenya as an adult.
“Birthers,” those who believe Obama is not a natural born citizen, continue to drive conspiracy theories about the president’s nationality.
Republican leaders have recently been asked to weigh in on the issue of birthers following a poll that showed 51 percent of GOP primary voters falsely believe Obama was not born in the United States. Speaker John Boehner and tea party star Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) have each addressed the issue in recent weeks saying they personally believe Obama is a citizen. But Boehner added that he won’t actively dissuade the public from believing otherwise.
Huckabee, who ran for president in 2008 and is widely expected to run in 2012, has in the past made clear he doesn’t side with birthers on this issue, recently saying birthers are “wasting time and energy” on the issue and “nonsense.” He says he believes if there was something amiss about Obama’s past, it would have been uncovered.
Huckabee explained in the interview Monday:
The only reason I’m not as confident that there’s something [invalid] about the birth certificate, Steve, is because I know the Clintons … and believe me, they have lots of investigators out on [Obama]. And I’m convinced if there was anything that they could have found on that, they would have found it, and I promise they would have used it.
While clarifying the Indonesia/Kenya mixup to ABC Tuesday, Gidley used stronger language on the birther issue:
When the Governor mentioned he wanted to know more about the President, he wasn’t talking about the President’s place of birth — the Governor believes the President was born in Hawaii. The Governor would however like to know more about where President Obama’s liberal policies come from and what else the President plans to do to this country — as do most Americans.