The Ohio State NAACP and faith leaders across the state are calling on Building a Better Ohio to denounce comments made by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee in Mason on Friday.
Speaking at the “Yes on Issue 2″ pancake breakfast, Huckabee jokingly urged the crowd of 350 to call on their friends and family with advice that appeared to suggest how they can support the measure, which will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot.
“Make a list… Call them and ask them, ‘Are you going to vote on Issue 2 and are you going to vote for it?’ If they say no, well, you just make sure that they don’t go vote. Let the air out of their tires on election day. Tell them the election has been moved to a different date. That’s up to you how you creatively get the job done.”
- Audio: Listen to Huckabee’s speech (quoted part above is about 12 minutes in)
Building a Better Ohio and the Warren County Republican Party sponsored the event.
MasonBuzz.com was the first to report the story. The comments by the 2008 presidential candidate and Fox News host have since gained national attention, appearing in such media outlets as the Huffington Post, Mother Jones, Politico and on MSNBC’s The Ed Schultz Show.
“Huckabee’s disgusting comments show that Building a Better Ohio and its corporate-funded supporters will do anything, even advocate for illegal tactics, to keep Ohioans from voting against Issue 2,” said NAACP Ohio Conference President Sybil Edwards-McNabb.
“These types of comments are worrisome because could incite further attempts to suppress the vote of Ohioans. It is time for Building a Better Ohio to denounce Huckabee’s disgraceful remarks.”
Jason Mauk, spokesman for Building a Better Ohio, said yesterday that Issue 2 opponents are “doing a phony soccer flip” over Huckabee’s comments.
“Huckabee has clearly been using the voting joke for years, and no one takes it seriously, except the Democrats who immediately cry voter suppression,” he said. “He should probably get a better joke, but opponents of Issue 2 can stop the phony outrage and get back to the real debate.”
Huckabee made similar comments in 2009 while campaigning for Republican Virginia gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell.
Opponents of Issue 2 say the former governor’s comments are no laughing matter. The point to House Bill 194, the bill passed by the Republican Ohio General Assembly that would cut the time of early absentee voting from 35 to 21 days and limit in-person early voting at boards of elections around the state.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is currently reviewing the more than 389,000 signatures gathered to put a referendum on the bill on the Nov. 2012 ballot.
HB 194 – which Republicans say is simply an effort to make the same election rules apply in all of Ohio’s 88 counties – is nothing more than a “voter suppression bill” that would “disenfranchise many Ohioans,” says Rev. Joel L. King Jr., a first cousin of Martin Luther King, Jr. and chair of the Columbus Civic Betterment Community.
“Voter suppression is no laughing matter,” he said.