While visiting Ethiopia Monday, US President Barack Obama came out against GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee for controversially equating the Iran nuclear deal with the Holocaust, and slammed the field of Republican candidates for "ridiculous" claims about the international nuclear agreement.
Huckabee said this weekend that the recently announced deal to curb Iran's nuclear program would "take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven," in a reference to the extermination practices of the Nazis during the Holocaust.
Obama responded to the remark while speaking to reporters, saying that "the particular comments of Mr. Huckabee are just part of a general pattern we've seen that would be considered ridiculous if it weren't so sad."
Obama was joined by prominent Jewish organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), in condemning Huckabee's statement. Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the national director of the ADL, called Huckabee's analogy "completely out of line and unacceptable."
"To hear Mr. Huckabee invoke the Holocaust when America is Israel's greatest ally and when Israel is a strong nation capable of defending itself is disheartening," Greenblatt said in a statement.
GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush also came out against Huckabee, telling reporters in Orlando "the use of that kind of language is just wrong."
Huckabee fired back at his critics on Monday.
"What's 'ridiculous and sad' is that President Obama does not take Iran's repeated threats seriously," he said in a written statement. "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."
Huckabee then took to Twitter to repeatedly invoke the Holocaust to discredit the Iran deal.
Huckabee's remarks come after Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, a leading GOP opponent of the Iran deal, compared Secretary of State John Kerry to the Biblical figure Pontius Pilate for negotiating with Iran. Presidential candidate and Texas Senator Ted Cruz has also accused Obama of being the biggest "state sponsor of terror" for allowing Iran access to its oil revenues.
On Monday Obama also criticized Cotton, Cruz, and the entire GOP presidential field for making what he called "ridiculous" claims about the Iran deal.
"These are leaders in the Republican Party," Obama said. "Certainly presidential debates deserve better. In 18 months, I'm turning over the keys. I want to make sure I'm turning over the keys to somebody who's serious about the serious problems the country faces and the world faces."