Longtime Duggar Ally Mike Huckabee Says He Never Supported Son Josh

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee told an Iowa radio host last week that he never offered support to former reality TV star Josh Duggar after it was revealed that he sexually abused his sisters as a teenager. Duggar’s December 23 remarks to conservative radio host Simon Conway were first flagged and clipped by Buzzfeed News.

“I really didn’t support Josh,” Huckabee insisted. “I supported his parents, if you’ll go back and look at what I said. There’s no support for what he did.”

The former Republican Arkansas governor maintained that he still supports the Duggar family, who came to fame on the TLC reality show “19 and Counting,” but condemned the actions of the clan’s eldest son. In back-to-back revelations this summer, Josh Duggar was found to have molested five girls when he was a teenager, including four of his own sisters, and to have cheated on his wife through adultery website Ashley Madison.

When these shocking stories were first made public, Huckabee did not make the same effort to distance himself from Josh Duggar. On May 22, just one day after news of Duggar’s past sexual abuse broke, the GOP candidate wrote a lengthy Facebook post accusing the media of “sensationalizing” the story and framing his actions as a “regrettable” youthful mistake.

“Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things,” Huckabee wrote. “The reason that the law protects disclosure of many actions on the part of a minor is that the society has traditionally understood something that today’s blood-thirsty media does not understand—that being a minor means that one’s judgement [sic] is not mature.”

In his interview on Des Moines-based radio station WHO last week, however, Huckabee told Conway, “I’ve never defended Josh and I don’t defend him now because there’s nothing to defend. What he did was absolutely hideously wrong and despicable.”

Huckabee’s ties to the controversial ultra-conservative clan run deep. Parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar endorsed Huckabee for both his 2008 and 2016 presidential campaigns, and their endorsements enjoyed top billing on Huckabee’s campaign site until the sexual abuse scandal surfaced.

Conway promised in June not to allow the GOP candidate’s close relationship with the Duggars to be “swept under the carpet.”

“There’s something wrong here,” Conway said on air in June. “And it’s not good enough to turn around and say, ‘They’re being picked on because they’re conservative and they’re Christian.’ There’s something wrong and it’s disturbing.”

Huckabee’s May Facebook post defending the Duggars and a clip of his interview on WHO, courtesy of Buzzfeed, are posted below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.

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