Behind Mike Huckabee’s bizarre fight over Rainbow Doritos

Mike Huckabee, railing against a corn chip

Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed

Huckabee once called Americans ‘economic terrorists’ for boycotting Chick-fil-A.

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has called for a boycott of Frito-Lay, accusing the snack company of aligning itself with a “radical homosexual activist.”

In a letter to Frito-Lay, the former Arkansas governor expressed his anger over the company’s partnership with the It Gets Better project, an organization dedicated to fighting anti-LGBT bullying. For $10 donation, contributors received a limited-edition bag of Rainbow Doritos. The campaign was a huge success, and the company has already run out of its colorful chips.

Specifically, Huckabee’s beef is with It Gets Better founder Dan Savage, an LGBT activist with a history of making controversial statements. Savage and his husband Terry Miller founded the organization roughly five years ago in response to the suicides of teenagers who were bullied for being gay.

“It is beyond me to understand how a responsible corporation would think that partnering with someone who spews the vicious vitriol that Savage does would be worthy of your corporate contributions,” wrote Huckabee, who reportedly included a link to a video in which Savage asks an explicit rhetorical question involving Huckabee’s wife.

Huckabee reportedly asked Frito-Lay’s management to watch the video. “Better yet, play it in one of your corporate board meetings and ask if it represents the values and views of Frito-Lay,” he said.

“If it does represent the corporate values of Frito-Lay,” Huckabee added, “then the Christian community needs to be made aware that Frito-Lay has decided to not seek their business.”

This is not the first time Huckabee has inserted himself into an LGBT-related corporate kerfuffle—but the last time, he was on the other side.

Dan Cathy, CEO and president of Chick-fil-A, has drawn the scorn of LGBT supporters over the years for speaking out against marriage equality. During a 2012 interview, he asserted that legalizing gay marriage would invite “God’s judgement.” When the Supreme Court overturned state bans on same-sex marriage in June, he tweeted (then deleted) a message declaring it a “sad day for our nation,” adding, “the founding fathers would be ashamed.”

When Americans began boycotting Chick-fil-A, Huckabee accused them of being economic terrorists. 

“I remember Aug. 1, 2012, when many of you stood at line at a Chick-fil-A restaurant,” Huckabee told the Family Leadership Summit in April, “not to scream, yell, and to protest something, but simply to give affirmation for the idea that a person who holds the same beliefs that many of you did should have the freedom to do it without economic terrorism trying to destroy not only [Cathy’s] business but his very reputation and livelihood.”

The boycott of Chick-fil-A was not entirely prompted by Cathy’s “personal views” and “personal money,” as Huckabee claimed. The fried chicken restaurant itself has funneled millions of dollars to anti-gay groups over the years through the WinShape Foundation, a private organization also founded by Cathy’s family. The foundation has in the past provided funding to the Family Research Council, an organization designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “hate group.” 

A Family Research Council publication co-authored by Robert Knight—who also drafted the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman—stated that the “primary goals” of LGBT activism is to “abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets’ of a new sexual order.”

Huckabee’s Frito-Lay boycott is also supported by David Lane, head of the American Renewal Project, according to Time. Lane is a far-right conservative who believes the legalization of same-sex marriage is a sign of the apocalypse. “It’s a war of ideology,” Lane said of the rainbow chips. “Frito-Lay has stepped into a cultural war.”

Lane and Huckabee have a close relationship, Time reports:

Huckabee has been a regular speaker at Lane events, and a host of overseas trips for pastors organized by Lane.

Frito-Lay maintains the partnership is purely to fight bullying, and lamented in a statement that “some have chosen to misrepresent the positive intent behind Doritos Rainbows.” But Huckabee and his allies aren’t buying it. “This is a battle for the soul of America,” Lane continues. “And religious freedom created America.”

During a radio show interview in 2013, Lane said he believed the presence of “homosexuals praying” at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration signaled a “fork in the road” for the United States. “I think the process of mercy looks like probably car bombs in Los Angeles; Washington, D.C.; and Des Moines, Iowa,” he said.

While working for Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul‘s campaign in 2013, Lane reportedly advocated for Christians to become martyrs to prevent same-sex marriage. 

“Christian America must war to make our nation a better place for our kids and grandkids,” Lane wrote. 

Disclosure: The Daily Dot received a promotional bag of Rainbow Doritos last month. 

Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed

Dell Cameron

Dell Cameron

Dell Cameron was a reporter at the Daily Dot who covered security and politics. In 2015, he revealed the existence of an American hacker on the U.S. government's terrorist watchlist. He is a co-author of the Sabu Files, an award-nominated investigation into the FBI's use of cyber-informants. He became a staff writer at Gizmodo in 2017.