Mike Huckabee: Obama grew up in Kenya

Mike Huckabee on WOR's "The Steve Malzberg Show." CBS

Updated 5:36 p.m. Eastern Time

In a radio interview on Monday, potential 2012 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee repeatedly made false claims that President Obama grew up in Kenya.

A spokesman for Huckabee later told CBS News that the former Arkansas governor misspoke.

In an interview on WOR's "The Steve Malzberg Show," Huckabee made reference to Mr. Obama's "having grown up in Kenya" and spoke of him growing up "with a Kenyan father and grandfather" - despite the fact that Mr. Obama grew up largely in Hawaii and barely knew his father at all.

In responding to Malzberg's question about whether "we deserve to know more about this man" and his origins, Huckabee responded that "I would love to know more."

"What I know is troubling enough," Huckabee said of the president. "And one thing that I do know is his having grown up in Kenya, his view of the Brits, for example, very different than the average American." The exchange was circulated by liberal media watchdog Media Matters.

A spokesman for Huckabee later said the former governor "meant to say the President grew up in Indonesia."

"When the Governor mentioned he wanted to know more about the President, he wasn't talking about the President's place of birth - the Governor believes the President was born in Hawaii," Hogan Gidley said in a statement to CBS News. "The Governor would however like to know more about where President Obama's liberal policies come from and what else the President plans to do to this country - as do most Americans."

In the interview, Huckabee also pointed to the fact that Mr. Obama in 2009 returned a bust of Winston Churchill to the British Embassy, describing the act as "a great insult" to the British. (He did not mention that the bust had been on loan.)

"If you think about it, his perspective as growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather, their view of the Mau Mau Revolution in Kenya is very different than ours because he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather," he said.

There is no evidence that the president grew up in Kenya, and various reports show he spent little time with his father over the course of his life. According to a New York Times report detailing the president's Kenyan roots, Mr. Obama has visited Kenya only three times, most recently in 2006. According to the president's 1995 memoir "Dreams from My Father," he visited Kenya for the first time in the late 1980s after his father was already dead.

Indeed, Mr. Obama was born in Hawaii and spent much of his childhood there with his mother and his mother's family. He also lived in Indonesia from 1967-1971. In  "Dreams From My Father," Mr. Obama writes about his experience coming to terms with the absence of a strong paternal presence in his life.

Nevertheless, a small faction of Americans known as "birthers" continue to dispute Mr. Obama's American citizenship, despite the fact that the claim has been repeatedly debunked.

When asked if he would bring up the "birther" issue with Mr. Obama in a presidential debate, Huckabee expressed doubts.

"The only reason I'm not as confident that there's something about the birth certificate, Steve, is because I know the Clintons," Huckabee said. "And believe me, they had lots of investigators out on him, and I'm convinced if there was anything that they could have found on that, they would have found it, and I promise they would have used it."

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