Republican Mike Huckabee responded to an offstage noise during his speech Friday to the National Rifle Association by suggesting it was Barack Obama diving to the floor because someone had aimed a gun at him.
Hearing a loud noise and interrupting his speech, Huckabee said: “That was Barack Obama. He just tripped off a chair. He’s getting ready to speak and somebody aimed a gun at him and he — he dove for the floor.”
There were only a few murmurs in the crowd after the remark.
The Obama campaign had no comment.
Later Friday, Huckabee issued a statement saying: “During my speech at the NRA a loud noise backstage, that sounded like a chair falling, distracted the crowd and interrupted my speech. I made an offhand remark that was in no way intended to offend or disparage Sen. Obama. I apologize that my comments were offensive, that was never my intention.”
Huckabee, who sought the GOP presidential nomination, won the leadoff Iowa caucuses and seven other states. But he dropped out after Sen. John McCain, the likely nominee, piled up a series of big victories. An ordained Baptist minister, Huckabee attracted strong support among religious conservatives.
He and former GOP candidate Mitt Romney addressed the NRA convention Friday as did McCain.
Huckabee’s comments came during a nearly 20-minute speech in which he suggested gun education should start early. He also criticized the Democratic presidential candidates, saying neither Obama nor rival Hillary Rodham Clinton would fight to defend an individual’s right to own a gun.
“I’m not sure Senator Obama or Senator Clinton really get it,” Huckabee said.