In a contentious exchange Tuesday at an Iowa campaign event, a woman accused GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee of being a “hypocrite” for both promoting family values and defending the Duggar family when it was rocked by a molestation scandal.
“You supported them,” the woman said to Huckabee in video captured by Democratic-aligned super PAC American Bridge. “You supported them on your websites. When the Duggars came out and their son had molested the child [sic], you more or less said that you felt sorry for their parents. Their parents let it continue.”
Huckabee is a longtime ally of the ultra-conservative Christian family featured in the now-canceled TLC show “19 Kids and Counting.” The former Arkansas governor repeatedly defended the Duggars last summer after it was revealed that the eldest son, Josh Duggar, sexually abused five underage girls when he was a teenager. The family later confirmed that Josh Duggar molested four of his own sisters.
In December, Huckabee said that he never defended Josh Duggar, although he wrote in a Facebook post after the allegations were first made public that Duggar’s actions were a “regrettable” youthful mistake. Huckabee maintained that he was defending Duggar’s parents, but he also quietly removed endorsements from both Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar from his campaign website after the molestation allegations surfaced.
The GOP candidate walked a similarly fine line during Tuesday stop in Clinton, Iowa. Huckabee said that he never condoned “child abuse,” as the audience member had accused him of doing, and went on to ardently defend the Duggar family.
“Ma’am, let me tell you something,” he said while wagging his finger at the woman. “You have no idea what you’re talking about. You don’t know that family and I do.”
Huckabee accused the woman of coming to the event to “confront” him, but said “you cannot abuse, which is what you’re doing, the reputation of a godly family who have been through hell because a son of theirs—one of their many children—did something evil.”
The audience member kept pushing back on Huckabee as others in the audience told her to quiet down. She insisted that the Duggar parents were aware of the abuse “for years.”
In a move reminiscent of his GOP rival Donald Trump’s method of confronting protesters at his rallies, Huckabee eventually told the woman to leave the event, saying, “we’re finished with you.”
The woman then told Huckabee that she had been “sexually molested” herself and said she didn’t approve of anyone who will “stick up with a family that will hide it.” She walked out of the event after telling Huckabee: “I hope you don’t make it to become president of the United States.”
Watch the full exchange below: