Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) said Thursday that he is disappointed in the state of the GOP’s 2016 presidential primary thus far.

“I think sometimes we’ve turned this into a gameshow,” he told hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”


“For God’s sake, this is in an important business,” Huckabee said. “The whole process has gotten out of control rather than a thoughtful process for electing someone with the judgment and temperament to be president of the United States.”

Huckabee, who is running for president, bemoaned the ongoing series of GOP presidential debates, citing the third contest the night before as an example.

“What we’re missing in these debates is getting at the heart and the soul of the candidates and what makes them tick,” he said. “There’s got to be an attempt to have substantive questions."

The GOP’s 2016 presidential field met in a wild encounter Wednesday evening moderated by CNBC in Boulder, Colo.

CNBC had promoted the contest as one centering on economics, but it turned into a free-for-all instead.

Huckabee argued on Thursday that the debates are largely inconsequential so early in the nominating process. He charged that it is more important for White House hopefuls to focus on winning support in the early voting states instead.

“The truth is, if you don’t win early voting states, you don’t end up as the nominee,” Huckabee said.

“You’ve got to go after organizing and winning in early voting states like Iowa,” he added. “If you don’t, I don’t care who you are or what your bank account is, you’re not winning.”

The Republican National Committee has repeatedly struggled this year with how it handles the vast size of its 2016 presidential field.

It has tried splitting the contenders into undercard and main card debates based on their national standing in the polls, a move that has drawn criticism from the less-popular candidates.

RNC Chairman Reince PriebusReinhold (Reince) Richard PriebusEx-Trump chief of staff Priebus mulling Wisconsin governor bid On The Trail: Little GOP interest in post-election introspection Author: Meadows is history's worst White House chief of staff MORE said late Wednesday that CNBC “should be ashamed” of how it handled its contest earlier that evening.

Multiple participants have criticized the network’s moderators for their alleged “gotcha” questions.