WASHINGTON - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee suggested in a radio interview that President Barack Obama's childhood in Kenya shaped his worldview - even though Obama did not visit Kenya until he was in his 20s.
The potential Republican presidential candidate told WOR radio in New York on Monday that Obama's youth led him to resent the West, which he said explains why Obama's foreign policy differs so greatly from that of his predecessors.
"One thing that I do know is his having grown up in Kenya, his view of the Brits, for example, [is] very different than the average American," Huckabee said, pointing to Obama's decision in 2009 to return a bust of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
He failed to note that the bust was on loan from former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who offered it to President George W. Bush in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as a symbol of trans-Atlantic solidarity. Huckabee also didn't mention that Obama replaced the Oval Office fixture with a bust of President Abraham Lincoln.
"The bust of Winston Churchill, a great insult to the British," Huckabee said. "But then if you think about it, his perspective as growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather . . . he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather."
Obama's grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, was detained in a 1952 uprising against British colonial rule in Kenya. Huckabee said childhood stories of the Mau Mau rebellion would lead President Obama to want to return the bust of Churchill, who ordered a crackdown against that uprising.
Other Huckabee assertions in the interview also departed from reality.
Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961 to a mother from Kansas, and a father from Kenya whom he would barely know. He spent the first five years of his life in Hawaii and then moved with his since-divorced mother and her new husband to Indonesia. At the age of 10, he returned to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents on Oahu until he started his undergraduate study in Los Angeles and completed it in New York City.
"The first time I came to Kenya was in 1987," Obama said at the University of Nairobi in 2006. "I had just finished three years of work as a community organizer in low-income neighborhoods of Chicago, and was about to enroll in law school. My sister, Auma, was teaching that year at this university, and so I came to stay with her for a month."