Huckabee hit back at Mitt Romney Thursday.
At Iowa campaign stops Wednesday and Thursday, Huckabee portrayed the former Massachusetts governor as a heartless politician who only had his own political future in mind, not the interest of the people.
Huckabee defended the lengthy list of clemencies critiqued by Romney in a recent attack ad, telling some of their stories, and saying he has no regrets.
“My opponent says there’s something about judgment – I’ll put mine up to his any day, because my judgment is you act in the best interest of the people who elected you, not in your own best interest,” he said Wednesday.
He told a story of Romney denying clemency to an Iraq war vet who wanted to be a policeman, but could not because of a BB gun incident when he was a juvenile.
On Thursday, he told the same story and asked the audience to raise their hands if they would grant parole. The vast majority raised their hands. “My opponent said no,” Huckabee told the crowd. “Now let me ask you, do you believe he acted in the best interest of that young man and his state, or did he act in the best interest of his own future political career? That’s judgment, folks, you’ve just decided whose judgment is better.”
He added: “So when you hear my opponent say that I just gave out commutations, first of all nobody walked out that door who had been a murderer and I went and unlocked the door. The attacks are dishonest, and they’re desperate, you know why because we’re winning this campaign and there are some folks who don’t like that.”
Huckabee said Romney’s latest charges were motivated by sagging poll numbers. “I think the desperate position of his campaign is beginning to come through. I want people to look at the whole record,” said Huckabee Wednesday. “I don’t plan to fight with him. He’s throwing punches and I’m saying ‘Merry Christmas.’”
He added that people should view Romney with “some sense of sympathy,” since his campaign had outspent Huckabee’s “20-to-1 here, and that’s a lot of money, and he’s behind and I’m sure that’s disappointing, and I’m sure there’s some internal turmoil in his campaign, and I understand that. But I think all of us ought to tell people what we’re for not what’s wrong with the other candidates, I kind of believe the negative attack ads had the opposite effect of what was intended.”
–CNN's Dana Bash