December 31st, 2007
04:45 PM ET
10 years ago

Huckabee makes, pulls, shows attack ad

Huckabee has decided not to air a negative campaign ad targeting Romney.

Huckabee has decided not to air a negative campaign ad targeting Romney."

DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) ­ - In a move that surprised even members of his own staff, Mike Huckabee told reporters gathered to see the debut of an Iowa ad attacking his competitor Mitt Romney that he was pulling the spot before it

After making the announcement, the Republican presidential candidate still showed reporters the ad, which targeted the former Massachusetts governor's record on such issues as taxes, gun control, and abortion.

Romney has already run several Iowa television spots criticizing Huckabee on issues including state spending, immigration, and clemency.

Recent polls show the two neck-and-neck for the lead among registered Republicans in the state, which holds its caucuses Thursday.

At the news conference Monday, the former Arkansas governor said he created the spot to attack Romney because "conventional political wisdom is that when you're hit, and it's beginning to do damage, the smart play is to hit back. And frankly every bit of advice I was getting said that was exactly what we were supposed to do."

But he said that shortly before the press conference, he called his staff and told them he wanted it pulled.
"I just decided that's not the way we want to run it," the former pastor said. "It's never too late to do the right thing."

Huckabee acknowledged that he expected "cynicism" from those who believe that by showing the ad at the news conference he was still launching the attack. But Huckabee said if he had not shown the ad, he expected reporters would have asked to see it.

If the ad ends up airing on Iowa TV stations, it will be because the stations have not yet had a chance to replace it in their schedules, Huckabee said.

Des Moines station KCCI told CNN it had been told this morning to run the ad - then contacted shortly afterwards by the campaign to cancel the original order.

“There had been a discussion about the strategy, a very lively discussion,” a top aide to the Mike Huckabee campaign said after his surreal press conference this afternoon.

Charmaine Yoest told reporters that the debate about running a negative ad against top rival Mitt Romney was strongest “particularly within the [Huckabee] family.”

“The governor has never in his political career run a negative ad. So there was real tension here, and we do feel strongly that his record has been distorted and so the plan was to make sure the record was cleared up,” Yoest added.

Skeptical reporters questioned Yoest about when staffers were notified of the change in strategy and whether the campaign ever truly intended to air the ad, but she refused to give any details except for declaring, “I’ve got a box of dvds and we’re not going to pass them out.”

“At the end of the day the Governor’s the one who makes the decisions about how he wants to run the campaign,” Yoest said.

- CNN's Dana Bash, Chris Welch and Evan Glass contributed to this report

Filed under: Iowa • Mike Huckabee • Mitt Romney
soundoff (127 Responses)
  1. Justin, Des Moines IA

    It occurs to me that this guy doesn't even have kids. As an American father of 3, and like most of the rest of you, I don't know how this guy could relate to American families. Personal life is absolutely up for scrutiny when it comes to public office. There's nothing wrong with never having children, but for the leader of our nation not to have ever had any would seem quite surprising indeed. Why not look to a man who has a solid family, who has been married only once, who has had all his kids with the same woman, and who has kids who actually like him. Romney virtually the only Republican candidate who has all that.

    December 31, 2007 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  2. Fred

    Even though I am not a Huckabee fan, pulling the ad was the right thing to do.

    Unlike Romney, he isn't running a negative, smear campaign against his rivals.

    Kudos to Huckabee and shame on Romney.

    December 31, 2007 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  3. Val Davydov, Agawam, MA

    Doesn't he look like Adolf Hitler on this picture? This is "what" will happen to all of you that don't vote for me! Do some still think that he is a viable candidate? And what is he trying to proof by this yet another fiasco? Because I am so nice I am not going to attack someone else? Come on! This guy doesn't even know how to run his own campaign! Is that how he would run our country?

    Enough is enough!

    Romney 08!

    December 31, 2007 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  4. Larry

    McCain and Huckabee are the desperate ones...they don't want anyone to know or ask about their records! Romney has been having "Ask Mitt Anything" meetings for over a year he's not afraid to discuss his past or his positions. Has Huckabee or McCain been so open?....NO, in fact they won't even address what Romney has brought to light! They're just side-kicks for one another and their only rebuttal to Romney is "Liar".

    Romney is by far the best candidate, he will provide the kind of leadership, knowledge, and rational needed to erase our trade deficit, ween our foreign dependency of oil, and strengthen the family (his family looks pretty exemplerary to me).

    Huckabee is having a political meltdown.

    December 31, 2007 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  5. Rich

    This guy is such a weasel....

    I wasn't going to spend money on this advertisement, so I will just show and give you the media a copy and you can be the bad guys while it looks like I am "turning the other cheek" to continue my pan handling to the religous right.

    Man, this guy wants women back in the kitchen, everyone being Christian, and no one telling him he is wrong. I take back what I said in a previous statement where I thought he reminded me of Osama. This guy is Osama's twin!

    December 31, 2007 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  6. Kyle

    This guy is just pure Looney! He has no control over his emotions. He would send Nukes a flying in his first year. Is this guy seriously a candiate for President of the United States! I mean wow did youher what he had in the ad? Here is a some more dialogue from the meeting with the press.

    "In what has to be one of the most bizarre political press conferences in recent times, Huckabee told a packed room of reporters that he was pulling a negative TV ad his campaign had produced to respond to Romney's attacks.

    "The cookie cutter approach says you get hit, you hit back,” Huckabee told the reporters, adding, “I think that the Washington way often has been effective. But there may be a better way, and I hope that we can prove that's exactly the case."

    Then - via a laptop projector - he showed the ad anyway to the several dozen journalists in the room.

    Adding to the spectacle, the sound of the ad didn't work for several minutes - until the press got to hear it one time. The ad, which his campaign said cost $30,000 to produce, begins with Huckabee speaking to the viewer. "I'm Mike Huckabee, and I approve this message, because Iowans have a right to know the truth about Mitt Romney's dishonest attacks on me and even an American hero, John McCain."

    Then an announcer takes over. "Romney's record? Over $700 million in new taxes. Left office with a deficit. No executions. Supported gun control. And Romney's government mandated health plan provided a $50 co-pay for abortion."

    Huckabee has the last word. "If a man is dishonest to obtain a job, he'll on the job," he says in the ad. "Iowans deserve better."

    "Hopefully, this is an ad that you will see just in this room," he told the reporters.

    Asked why he would announce he's pulling a negative ad - but show it anyway - Huckabee replied, "If I didn't show it, you'd say I never had [the ad]."

    On his decision to pull the ad, Huckabee added, "If it hurts me, it hurts me... I'm taking a risk here. I know I am. If it completely makes it so he pulls away in a dramatic way, then I'll probably be the last guy to ever do this. But I'd like to be the first one to ever try.

    "Thursday night, I will let you know if it was smart."

    No presidential candiate Republican or Democratic is as scary of a candiate as Huckabust.

    December 31, 2007 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  7. N. Wisconsin

    PATHETIC That's all I have to say about Huckabee

    December 31, 2007 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  8. Jordon Sumner

    Looks like Huckabust pulled the absolute most hypocritical move a politician can make on the campaign trail.

    December 31, 2007 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  9. Kyle

    For someone who has gone on and on about Romney and his negative ads and how Romeny is acting Desperate. HUCKABUST sure goes NEO-NEGATIVE here.
    HypocriteHuck go back to what you do best, preaching to the poor and taking their money and gifts. How is it possible you are going to take America back for Christ when it is religious Hypocrites such as yourself that make people stop believing in God let alone Christ.
    Seriously you think that by telling everyone you made a negative ad and then showed as proof that you made it and decided not to run it because you were the better man is going to work? Do you really think that Iowans or Americans can be manipulated so easily? Just because you can manipulate your flock who are desperate and in need when you manipulate them does not mean this will work on the rest of us.
    You think that being Anti-Abortion gives you the right to display pictures of aborted fetuses in public spaces where little kids have to be subjected to those pictures is ok?
    Hatred, Bigoted and just plain ignorant!
    I would vote for Putin to be the American President long before you!

    December 31, 2007 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  10. Dean

    Why even make the add???

    December 31, 2007 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  11. Conservative4Life, IN

    Oh my goodness, he even waffles on his own commericals!!! How is he going to stand up to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

    December 31, 2007 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  12. Geoffrey

    I don't believe that slick Huck is pulling this ad in order to "do the right thing." On the contrary, he is being manipulative and playing the martyr, to make Iowans think he is a more noble candidate. It's purely a political move and he is being self righteous. If this is not obvious to the readers out there, particularly Iowans, then you have the wool being pulled over your eyes.

    Slick Huck is pulling another holier than thou move to look better than his fellow Christian Romney. Enough is enough.

    December 31, 2007 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  13. Dean

    Why make the add if your not going to show it?

    December 31, 2007 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  14. Sterling

    HAHAHA...This guy is a joke. Can you imagine Huck using this philosophy to deal with threatening countries?

    I can see the headlines now:
    "After being directly attacked by an enemy President Huckabee decided to play nice and not counter attack. However, he then subtly bombed the enemy anyway."

    Seriously...He is simply too soft yet deceitful to lead our nation.

    December 31, 2007 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  15. Jon Sanderson

    Huckabee will pretend that he pulled the ad because he wanted to be "nice." However, he probably decided not to run it because he thinks it will damage his image as the "nice" candidate. The fact is: HUCKABEE IS NOT NICE. Nor has he stayed above the fray. He has hit Romney below the belt numerous times in subtle ways. THIS GUY GET'S NO SYMPATHY from me. He is a weak candidate and a dishonest person. Fortunately his candidacy is about to hide. BYE BYE HUCK!

    December 31, 2007 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  16. Carol, in Wilmington

    Well, it seems that Huckabee is the candidate with the most integrity! Romney wouldn't bat an eyelash to drop a negative ad! He feigns to dislike them, but Willard knows full well they're running them against McCain and Huck! For shame Mitt!

    December 31, 2007 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  17. Joe

    Has Huckabee lost his grip??

    Between that news confeence today and his comments pertaining to the Bhutto assasination, you have to wonder whether he and/or his campaign have totally unravelled.

    December 31, 2007 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  18. jane

    They said that Clinton "kept her hands clean" but this takes the cake!!–

    Is Huckabee like 'Pontious Pilot washing his hands of Jesus death in now saying he PULLED the add, and not his fault if stations didn't replace it??? my my!!

    So, he canceled going to his APPEARANCE at church, so he could make the add,

    then he sends it to the stations, and calls a press conference, THEN says he is canceling it- BUT shows it to reporters ANYWAY, because they might have asked to see it????

    Trying to have his cake (attack) and keep it (his hands clean) too??


    December 31, 2007 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  19. Paul

    I'm a die-hard Mike Huckabee supporter because of his positive message and the hope that this country can be united again with some semblance of bipartisanship. Negative ads, sadly, may have short-term benefits but the long-term damage is illustrated, I believe, in the nasty partisan tone of American politics today.

    I believe the Governor in his heart just does not like to be negative and attack opponents, and I respect him even more for what he did today. The cynicism his decision is being met with as we speak is just a by-product of the negative approach candidates have taken for a couple decades now.

    And none of us are any better for it.

    December 31, 2007 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  20. jane

    So is Huckabee - like Clinton– (and Pontious Pilot)– trying to keep his hands clean??

    He SHOWS to reporters the add he says he CANCELED (like they aren't going to spread the news?) and it is not his fault if stations haven't had time to replace it on air so it still shows!!!

    This from the guy who said earlier he would never do attack adds.TOTAL FLIP FLOP to LOWER ground (while Mitt came to higher ground on abortion with NO flop back!)

    What if this was concerning some Muslim foreign country– what would THEY react to if he just attempted to say it wasn't his fault? They react violently to cartoons??? Huckabee has gone to LOWER ground, and still flopping!!!

    December 31, 2007 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  21. Paul

    Put a little mustache on Huckabee and he looks like the man from Germany.

    December 31, 2007 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  22. Jonathan, UT

    Genius, Huckabeen. Now when stations do air the add you can say you "tried to stop it". Maintaining your "positive" look while airing a negative add is pretty slick.

    December 31, 2007 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  23. Chris, Middletown, CT

    And yet...he still showed the ad to the press.....we know HRC supporters believe Mikes supporters as well?

    December 31, 2007 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  24. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    Cutting his losses?

    December 31, 2007 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  25. Jim Flynt

    Good for you, Mike Huckabee. It takes class to decide not to go negative. Stay with your message of hope for the future of our nation. It's what got you where you are today and it's what will win you the White House. I really like two things you plan to do. (1) Your plan to build a border fence and stop illigal imigration and (2) your commitment to make our nation energy independent in 10 years. John Kennedy had a plan to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. If we can be energy independent in a decade it will be the greatess accomplishment of any president this century. Stay positive and keep fighting for us!!

    December 31, 2007 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6