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Posted at 12:41 PM ET, 03/ 4/2011

Why is Mike Huckabee criticizing Natalie Portman? (Poll)

By Rachel Weiner

Natalie Portman accepts her Oscar at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. Photo by Mark J. Terrill/AP.

Updated at 1:35 p.m.

In an interview on Monday with conservative talk show host Michael Medved, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee took aim at a strange target -- Academy Award winning actress Natalie Portman.

In her acceptance speech after winning the award for Best Actress this weekend, Portman thanked her fiance, Benjamin Millepied, for giving her the "most important role of my life" -- meaning as a mother. Portman and Millepied are having a child but are not married.

Said Huckabee:

"You know Michael, one of the things that's troubling is that people see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts of, 'Hey look, you know, we're having children, we're not married, but we're having these children, and they're doing just fine,'" Huckabee said. "But there aren't really a lot of single moms out there who are making millions of dollars every year for being in a movie. And I think it gives a distorted image that yes, not everybody hires nannies, and caretakers, and nurses. Most single moms are very poor, uneducated, can't get a job, and if it weren't for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death and never have health care. And that's the story that we're not seeing, and it's unfortunate that we glorify and glamorize the idea of out of children wedlock [sic]."

Huckabee's argument isn't an unfamiliar one for conservatives, but the example is somewhat odd.

Portman is, after all, marrying the father of her child. She didn't practice abstinence, as Huckabee advocates, but neither do scores of other celebrities. By embracing motherhood and marriage, she's taking a more conservative position than many of her peers.

In a statement, Huckabee called Portman "an extraordinary actor, very deserving of her recent Oscar trophy" and said "I am glad she will marry her baby's father." He said he wasn't attacking her, only arguing that "it's unfortunate that society often glorifies and glamorizes the idea of having children out of wedlock."

It's the second time this week that Huckabee has provoked outrage and confusion for his comments on conservative talk radio.

In another interview on Monday, he suggested that President Obama was raised in Kenya. After that interview, many liberals accused Huckabee of deliberately distorting history to win sympathy from 'birthers.' (A Huckabee spokesman said the former governor had simply misspoken.)

So why did Huckabee take aim at Portman? He may have been taking a veiled shot at Sarah Palin, whose daughter had a child out-of-wedlock who has participated in a glitzy Harper's Bazaar photo shoot and the television show "Dancing with the Stars." He might be trying to reassert himself as the true social conservative in the Republican Party, holding a hard line on abstinence. (His new book, "A Simple Government," starts with a chapter on family values.) Or perhaps he simply wants to sell books and wasn't thinking about the possible political ramifications.

Tell us what you think.

By Rachel Weiner  | March 4, 2011; 12:41 PM ET
Categories:  Daily Fix Poll, Eye on 2012  | Tags:  Mike Huckabee  
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