Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee argued President Barack Obama is more interested in not offending Islam than he is in protecting Americans, and most religious hate crimes are against Jews, not Muslims.
At the undercard Republican debate held Thursday evening in North Charleston, South Carolina, the former Arkansas governor asserted that President Obama focuses too much time on not offending Islam.
"We have a President who seems to be more interested in protecting the reputation and image of Islam than he is protecting us," said Huckabee.
Huckabee went on to note that despite the attention Obama gives to hate crimes against Muslims in the United States, Jewish American experience a higher rate of hate crimes.
"He needs to read his own FBI crime stats from last year which would show him that of the hate crimes in the country, over 5,500, about 1,100 were religious hate crimes. And, of those, 58% were directed toward Jews. Only 16% directed toward Muslims," continued Huckabee.
"Maybe what the President should have talked about the other night is how we ought to be more careful in the anti-Semitic comments that are going toward American Jews than toward Muslims because by three times as many [are] being targeted for religious hate crime."
Writing for the Washington Examiner, Philip Klein had a short article fact checking Huckabee's hate crime statistics with links to the FBI data.
"In 2014, the FBI reported 1,092 hate crimes based on religious bias — 58 percent of those crimes were against Jews, compared with 16 percent that were against Muslims," he wrote.
Hosted by the Fox Business Network, the undercard debate featured Huckabee, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and former US Senator Rick Santorum.
US Senator Rand Paul was slated to join the other three as part of the lower tier debate, but he opted to boycott it due to his belief that poll numbers should have put him on the main debate stage instead.
During the approximately one-hour long debate, the three candidates discussed multiple issues including the economy, terrorism, and firearms regulation.
Huckabee was not the only candidate present who took aim at a prominent figure, as Fiorina when discussing foreign policy denounced what she called frontrunner Donald Trump's "bromance" with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
"We need to be very clear-eyed now about who are our allies and who are our adversaries. In the fight against ISIS, Saudi Arabia is our ally. Iran is our adversary. And despite Donald trump's bromance with Vladmir Putin, Vladmir Putin and Russia are our adversary," stated Fiorina.
While social issues were largely not discussed, at one point a moderator asked Santorum about the role government should play in family life in light of the growing number of out-of-wedlock births in the nation.
"We have been too politically correct in this country because we don't want to offend anybody to fight for the lives of our children," stated Santorum.
"Let's have a national campaign to rebuild the American family, and give every child its birthright which is a Mom and a Dad who loves them."