Mike Huckabee slams 'vindictive' lawsuit filed by 'Eye of the Tiger' co-writer

Republic presidential candidate Mike Huckabee speaks at a rally for Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk in Grayson, Kentucky, on Sept. 8, 2015.Reuters

Republican presidential bet Mike Huckabee is facing a lawsuit from the co-writer of the song "Eye of the Tiger," which was used at a rally where he spoke in support of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis last September.

The former Arkansas governor calls the lawsuit "vindictive."

"Unfortunately, this person seems to be more interested in suing us for an amount of money more than the average American worker makes in a year and it just seems a very vindictive and almost unbelievable kind of thing to do," he told ABC News Thursday in Iowa.

Huckabee denied that he chose the song to be played at the rally.

"The lawsuit makes it sound like I went and picked out music to say 'hey, play this song,' and obviously that didn't happen," he said.

The candidate said his camp exerted effort to avoid the lawsuit but accused Rude Music Inc., the plaintiff and owned by guitarist Frankie Sullivan of the band "Survivor," of just trying to get publicity.

"When the person made a complaint, there was an offer made to pay him and issue an apology. We don't want to run somebody's music who hates my guts. I get that," he said.

In the lawsuit, Huckabee is accused of allowing the song to be played. At the rally, Huckabee praised Davis for being "incredibly brave" and told the crowd that "we cannot criminalise the Christian faith."

Davis spent six days in jail for contempt of court for refusing to issue marriage licences after the U.S. Supreme Court legalised same-sex marriage, saying it was against her religious beliefs.

In the lawsuit, Sullivan said the copyright infringement was wilful because Huckabee has his own band, Capitol Offense, and plays the bass guitar and holds copyrights to his works, Reuters reported.

It said Huckabee was previously sued by musicians who did not want their songs to be used by his campaign.

Sullivan wrote the "Eye of the Tiger" with Jim Peterik. He sued Newt Gingrich in 2012 for using the song at his campaigns. The lawsuit was settled out of court.

The song was used as a theme song for the 1982 movie "Rocky III."