Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has clarified his position on the Duggars of the hit TLC show "19 Kids and Counting", explaining that he would supports any family who "tries to work through their problems under the grace of God."
In a video obtained by Radar, a woman at an Iowa campaign stop is seen asking the former Arkansas governor about his views on child abuse before asking him why he supports Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, who have been accused of covering up their son's molestation of five underage girls, including two of his sisters.
After emphasizing that he does not support child abuse, Huckabee stated, "You do not know that family. I never supported anything that happened to those daughters. I supported the fact that those daughters were maliciously and savagely abused not just by their brother, but by the news media who exploited them for their own purpose without proof of what it was doing to those young ladies."
"I know them. I've known them since they were babies," he added. "You don't know what those parents did and how they worked to try to take care of their entire family. You don't know."
When the woman continued to berate him, Huckabee responded, "You've come in here to confront me, which is fine. But you cannot abuse, which is what you're doing, the reputation of a Godly family who have been through hell because a son of theirs - one of their many children - did something evil and sinful that nobody is backing up and supporting. But I would support any family who tries to work through their problems under the grace of God."
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 the girls 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," the Arkansas native 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.
Speaking to Iowa radio show host Simon Conway last month, Huckabee referred to Josh's actions as "despicable," "dishonest," and "totally defy everything that he supposedly stood for."
"There's no support for what he did," he said, "I think in subsequent months, as more things came out, what he did was despicable, it was dishonest."
The GOP hopeful said 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."