Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has said he "never defended" Josh Duggar after allegations surfaced that the disgraced reality star had molested his sisters as a teenager, but said he continues to support Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar.
"I really didn't support Josh. I supported his parents, if you'll go back and look at what I said," Huckabee told Iowa radio show host Simon Conway earlier this week, Buzzfeed reported.
Huckabee added that Duggar's actions were "despicable," "dishonest," and "totally defy everything that he supposedly stood for," later saying he "never defended Josh" and that he doesn't now because there is "nothing to defend."
"There's no support for what he did," the former Alaska Governor continued. "I think in subsequent months, as more things came out, what he did was despicable, it was dishonest."
As reported by the Gospel Herald, the hit TLC show 19 Kids and Counting was canceled in May after initial reports that Josh had molested five underage girls, including several of his sisters, as a young teen. A short time later, Jim Bob and Michelle's eldest son also admitted to struggling with pornography addiction and cheating on his wife, Anna, using the Ashley Madison adultery website.
When the first scandal broke, Huckabee published a Facebook post that appeared to support the embattled reality star.
"Josh's actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, 'inexcusable,' but that doesn't mean 'unforgivable,'" Huckabee wrote. "He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities.
" ... No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story," Huckabee continued. "Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things."
Talking Points Memo notes that Huckabee's ties to the Duggar family run deep, as Jim Bob and Michelle endorsed the politician for both his 2008 and 2016 presidential campaigns.
Continuing his comments to Conway, Huckabee reiterated that his support was Duggar's sisters, Jessa Seewald and Jill Dillard, who he said were clearly "exploited" by the media.
"My support was for his sisters, who were the real victims, I felt like they were being exploited by the media," Huckabee said. "The media didn't care what was happening to them and the emotional trauma they were going through."
Despite the cancellation of 19 Kids and Counting, TLC network has continued to work with the Duggar family and produced several documentaries, the latest of which is Jill and Jessa: Counting On.