WASHINGTON (CNN) – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney Monday dismissed rival Mike Huckabee's recent charge that he once stood against Ronald Reagan, and accused the former Arkansas governor of "getting a little desperate."
"I must admit that I find the vision and the direction that Ronald Reagan laid out for this country to be very powerful and very compelling," Romney told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "I'll tell you, Ronald Reagan would have never raised taxes like Mike Huckabee did, Ronald Reagan would have never said let's give tuition breaks to illegals like Mike Huckabee did, Ronald Reagan would have never stood by and pushed for a budget that more than doubled during his term as president."
"Mike Huckabee as a matter of fact has a very different record than Ronald Reagan, and I'm pretty proud that my record stands up quite well."
Romney's comments come a day after Huckabee assailed Romney's conservative record on CNN's Late Edition, claiming the former Massachusetts governor had changed his positions on abortion rights, same-sex marriage, and gun control.
"He was against Ronald Reagan's legacy and said he wasn't a part of that Bush-Reagan thing, I was a part of that Bush-Reagan thing," Huckabee said of Romney Sunday on CNN's Late Edition.
Meanwhile, in a conference call with reporters Monday, Huckabee brushed aside criticism about his record on taxes - most notably from the anti-tax group Club for Growth.
"If Reagan were running today, the Club for Growth would be running ads against him because he raised taxes by a billion dollars in California, and that was one of the attacks on him when he was running for president," he said.
The back and forth comes shortly after a new ABC News/Washington post poll showed Huckabee trails Romney by just 4 percent among likely GOP caucus-goers in the crucial early-voting state of Iowa. With a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points, the poll suggests the two could be essentially tied.
Watch Wolf Blitzer's full interview with Mitt Romney on The Situation Room, 4-7 p.m. ET.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney