Mike Huckabee Trolls Hillary and Bill Clinton to Tap Republican Id

3 minute read

The discredited claim that Bill and Hillary Clinton kill their opponents has long been a mainstay of the conservative id, even though there has never been any actual evidence to back it up.

But that has not stopped Mike Huckabee from making a light-hearted nod at the conspiracies, with a joke that takes center stage in his new web video.

The video features Huckabee joking that he is a rare example of a Clinton rival who opposed the former first couple and “lived to tell about it.”

Huckabee’s campaign said Wednesday that the video is not trying to harken back to dark days of anti-Clinton fear mongering, or suggesting that the Clinton’s had killed their enemies. “That’s ridiculous. The video is a light-hearted but real reminder that in the political arena, the Clintons play tough and they play for keeps,” said Huckabee spokesman Hogan Gidley, when asked about the subtext of the ad. “If Republicans want to defeat Hillary in the fall, there’s only one candidate who has the experience repeatedly facing the Clinton machine and repeatedly winning—and that’s Mike Huckabee.”

The line comes from a weekend appearance at a summit of Iowa evangelicals. Real estate mogul Donald Trump stole the headlines at that event with incendiary comments about former POW John McCain, whom Trump said was an American hero only because he was captured.

The full transcript from the video runs like this:

I want to remind these folks here today that of the 373 Republicans who are running for President, there is only one who has consistently fought the Clinton political machine in the most partisan state in America during the 1990s, after they had built up that machine over 25 years. And only person who has successfully not only fought against that political machine in every election and through the institutions of government, but who consistently defeated it and transformed it and, most importantly, lived to tell about it.

Huckabee ran Arkansas years after Clinton decamped from Little Rock for Washington. Bill Clinton was Arkansas Governor from from 1983 until 1992, during which time he reformed the state’s Democratic Party and left behind a significantly lopsided legislature for Huckabee to confront. Huckabee was Governor from 1996 to 2007.

In the darker corners of the Internet, there remains conspiratorial lists of the purported victims of the Clintons: former White House counsel Vince Foster who committed suicide; former Clinton business partner James McDougal who died of a heart attack while in prison; and Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, whose plane crashed in Croatia. Dozens of other alleged victims are on an Internet “body count” that is popular among the Clintons’ haters.


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Write to Philip Elliott at philip.elliott@time.com