Mike Huckabee on Controversial Holocaust Remark: 'I Have Been to Auschwitz. I Have Stood at That Very Place'
07/28/2015 AT 01:00 PM EDT
Huckabee, 59, told the Today show's Matt Lauer on Tuesday, "We need to use strong words when people make strong threats against an entire group of people."
"I have been to Auschwitz three times," the former Arkansas governor said. "I have stood at that very place … It's nothing that I haven't said for the past 42 years."
He noted to Lauer that he attended a "Jewish event" on Monday.
"I was probably one of four gentiles in the entire event … People were overwhelmingly supportive."
Huckabee stood by his statements once again in an interview with Yahoo! News' Katie Couric on Tuesday, saying he would not take them back because he is "genuinely worried that [the Iran deal] leads down a dangerous path."
Obama "wanted a legacy item," Huckabee said of the deal, to "make it appear he had done something remarkable."
He added of his initial remarks, "There's a boldness and a clarity to it. For those who thought I was saying this because I was looking for attention ... you know, Katie, the truth is I said it on a Saturday afternoon satellite radio show, so it wasn't that I thought it was going to become the big issue of the week."
On Saturday, the 59-year-old said that the historic Iran deal – which halts Iran's nuclear weapon development in exchange for fewer sanctions – will "take Israelis and march them to the door of the oven," according to Breitbart News.
The comments sparked outrage among both Democrats and Republicans. President Obama called Huckabee's remarks "ridiculous," saying they are "part of a general pattern that would be considered ridiculous if it weren't so sad," NBC News reports.
Although Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and George Pataki both condemned Huckabee's comments, they remained adamant about their disapproval of the nuclear weapons deal with Iran.
Jewish groups across the country also condemned the remarks, but Huckabee holds that he has received support from the Jewish community, including Holocaust survivors and their children, according to Today.
Huckabee also responded to claims that the controversial comments were an attempt to overshadow GOP poll leader Donald Trump.
"My job is not to react to Donald Trump. My gosh, he's getting all the attention he needs without my help," he told Lauer.
"I'll swim in my lane. I'll let Donald Trump swim in his."