Mike Huckabee, a likely Republican contender for the 2012 nomination, has condemned Oscar winner Natalie Portman for "glamourising" single motherhood with an "out of wedlock" pregnancy.
In remarks that could backfire on his presidential hopes, the former Arkansas governor criticised the 29-year-old actress even though she is engaged to her fiance, ballet dancer Benjamin Millepied.
Huckabee lashes unmarried Portman
US Republican politician Mike Huckabee has criticised actress Natalie Portman for choosing to have a baby out of wedlock.
When collecting her best actress award for Black Swan, Miss Portman thanked Mr Millepied for "the most wonderful gift" that was preparing her for "her most important role".
Mr Huckabee, who came second to John McCain in the Republican primary in 2008, insisted on a conservative talk radio show that Miss Portman was setting a bad example.
"There aren't really a lot of single mums out there who are making millions of dollars every year for being in a movie," he said.
"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 glamourise the idea of out-of-children wedlock."
Some Republicans have advised against stressing "social issues" such as gay marriage, single parenting and abortion in the forthcoming campaign, believing that they alienate floating voters who are overwhelmingly concerned about the poor state of the economy.
It was the second time during the week that Mr Huckabee, who is on a tour to promote a new book, sparked controversy. Earlier, he erroneously suggested that President Barack Obama was raised in Kenya, by way of explaining what he called the President's anti-Western views. Mr Obama spent part of his childhood in Indonesia.
His comments revived memories of remarks by then vice-president Dan Quayle in the 1992 presidential campaign in which he condemned Murphy Brown, a character in a TV sitcom, for deciding to raise a child without the father.
The Daily Telegraph, London