GOP's Mike Huckabee Questions the Obamas' Parenting of Sasha and Malia

The conservative tells PEOPLE he wants the Duggar family campaigning for him – if he runs for president again

Photo: Getty

First, it was Beyoncé and Jay Z up for scolding by conservative Republican Mike Huckabee. Now it’s Barack and Michelle Obama‘s turn.

In an interview about his new book, God, Guns, Grits and Gravy, Huckabee tells PEOPLE he doesn’t get how the Obamas can encourage their daughters’ love for Beyoncé. Especially, the former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister says, if the president and first lady ever actually listened to the lyrics to – or seen a performance of Beyoncé’s steamy “Drunk in Love.”

The Obamas “are excellent and exemplary parents in many ways,” Huckabee says.

“That’s the whole point. I don’t understand how on one hand they can be such doting parents and so careful about the intake of everything – how much broccoli they eat and where they go to school and making sure they’re kind of sheltered and shielded from so many things – and yet they don’t see anything that might not be suitable for either a preteen or a teen in some of the lyrical content and choreography of Beyoncé, who has sort of a regular key to the door” of the White House.

Beyoncé, Jay Z and their daughter, Blue Ivy, were at the White House last January for Mrs. Obama’s exclusive 50th birthday bash and the first lady has taken her girls to several Beyoncé concerts.

The singer, criticized in Huckabee’s book for “obnoxious and toxic mental poison in the form of song lyrics” and dance moves “best left for the privacy of her bedroom,” was also featured prominently at the president’s second Inauguration in 2013.

The first lady’s office had no response to Huckabee’s comments.

Huckabee, who signed off from his Fox News talk show earlier this month to weigh another presidential run, says he wants this book to expose what he calls “the vast disconnect” between the cultural norms of “where people actually live – in flyover country – versus the three great bubbles of influence in Washington, D.C., New York City and Hollywood.”

And all the online chatter stoked by his Beyoncé passages only proves the disconnect, he says. “It’s like people are shocked that I would raise that as an issue. My response to that is, ‘Gee, the mouse took the cheese.'”

Huckabee says he’s a huge Jennifer Lawrence fan (“She was terrific in The Hunger Games. I find her an amazing actress”), lists Dallas Buyers Club as a favorite flick, and gasps at the suggestion he could be labeled a prude.

“Oh, Heavens no,” he says. “Not at all!” He cites his 11-year record as Arkansas governor, when Arkansas was “one of the only states in America where every student grades K through 12 had to have both music and art classes. I’m one of the strongest advocates for the arts you’ll ever find!”

And for all his thunder against some stars of pop culture (Miley Cyrus’ twerking was “a disgustingly pornographic performance” and, of a mesh dress worn by Rihanna, he writes “I’ve seen dusty pickup truck windshields that were less see-through”), Huckabee’s not calling for any censorship or regulation.

“Government shouldn’t try to dictate what art looks like or what it portrays,” he says. “Last thing we want is government screwiung it up, which is what they would do.”

As for any 2016 bid for the White House, Huckabee says he’ll decide sometime this spring and, if it’s a yes, he wants some of the only reality TV stars he can stomach – the Duggars of TLC’s 19 Kids & Counting beside him.

“I’ve pointed them out as an example of something that’s wholesome and wonderful and I’ve known them since Jim Bob was in the legislature when I was governor,” says Huckabee. The Duggars campaigned for Huckabee in 2008. “Should I run, I’m hoping they’ll do it again. And now there’s more of ’em!”

Sounding every bit like a candidate, Huckabee added jokingly: “If I can get ’em registered in each of the states, I’m going to win just by virtue of their votes!”

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