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
So Huckabee decides not to pay money to show the ad, then instead shows it to the media, who will then surely play it over and over again for free? Very shrewd, but I'm not buying his "holier than thou" attitude. And his reason for showing the ad to reporters? Because if he didn't show it, then reporters might ask to see it! Very noble.
That is great Huck, spend an entire day at the end of a race just to show everyone how much of a christian you are by not running the negative ad that you prepared. Sounds like great advice from Rollins (Huckabees campaign advisor) who was "quoted by Time magazine as saying he paid off African-American ministers not to advocate the election of the Democratic opponent." BostonGlobe Dec 14th
Huckleberry is a hypocrite!!!!
I won't run negative add but I will show the media in hopes they give it free air time. Does he really think the media are fools??/
He acts holier then thou.
He running on the I'm more Christian then you card.
He thinks being funny is more important then answering hard questions.
Today was a huge blunder and only helps Mitt.
Iowans are starting to see Huckleberry's true colors and more importantly are examining his record!!
Mitt is a proven leader in the business world and in Government.
Huckabee is a guy who can't bear to have someone inspect his record, or discuss the issues that matter to people. Instead he relies on one-liners to illicit an emotional reaction, with no supporting evidence.
Huckabee's message is, "My opponent insists on discussing important issues, but he is a dishonest man and I refuse to say anything negative, so I will not discuss issues." Clever, but it's hypocritical and most people see through the smokescreen.
When it comes to ethical conduct, all I need to know is the number of times each candidate was fined for ethical violations:
Mitt Romney: Zero.
Mike Huckabee: Six.
change of heart? change of strategy? Just like Mike: oh so innocently ask questions about Mormanism that grab the headlines and the apology comes at the bottom of the obit section.
Mike still showed the reporters the ad so he gets to go negative, while seemingly to be positive and still get his negative message out.... and still he spins why reporters got to see it. If reporters asked, and he didn't really want the ad out, be a true-blue republican and "just say no."
Also note: if the ad gets shown, it will be because the stations didn't update their schedules: again and always- "not my fault"
Huckabee, What an under-handed, sneaky, dishonest attack!
this is obviouly the HUCKSTER trying to look like a good man which he just as obviously is not. try taking back you support of rapist murderers too. that might be a little harder
I am proud of you Mike Huckbee! Stay presidential and positive, because the American people need that kind of leadership in the White House! Doug Temecula, Ca
Despicable. He gets to show the add anyway and publicly comes off as some kind of saint. How self-righteous can you get? Does anyone buy this baloney?
Huckabee is a genius. He certonaly knows how to create buzz.
And then he proceeded to show all the reporters the video and give all the reporters a free copy of the video. What a stunt. Slimy.
That is one smart way to not pay for an ad but get it shown anyway. I saw the ad on the nightly news, they showed the part about Romney and his spending. It is amazing just how stupid the American people have become. Huckabee has only a chance if the MSM decide to give him a chance.
I can't wait to see who the mainstream media decides will be your next president.
Who would Jesus bomb?
He'd bomb those islamo-facsists terrorist suicide bombers.
What a joke we have become.
Weak, tired, fat, useless american losers. Got puched in the stomach on 911, so why not overthrow some country and steal their oil.
Weak, little, sad, stupid america. Go play a video game and eat some fat-burgers.
Huckabee must have realized there is no death penalty in Massachusetts just before he ran the ad. What a stupid thing to do....Point out that Romney's State had no executions while he was governor. I quess he did't know Massachusetts did not have the death penalty. He really needs to check the facts before he opens his mouth. If he were president he might accidentally start world war three.
What a bunch nonsense. He's not going to air it? But he's going to show it to all the reporters so he makes sure the contents gets out there and then brag what a NICE person he is. And then when it gets on the air ANYWAY, because it's already been distributed, he can claim it as an accident.
What he IS is a hypocrite, just like the rest of them, and I hope this nonsense backfires on him, BIG TIME.
Huckabee must think we just fell off the turnip truck. Only a fool would believe that the avowed dirty trickster Ed Rollins would not play a hand in Huckabee's stunt. Better luck next time governor, we're on to your lies.
Huckabee should continue to serve Arkansas very well. Particularly if the state puts some spending limits in place and restrict his work as a judge. It is a landlocked state….somewhere in the middle of the country…..a good distance from our borders….where his mistakes will not hurt us much.
Somehow, as governor of Arkansas, he was able to serve as judge and jury for complex capital crimes and determine some criminals should be set free in spite of the legal system that put them in prison. This reminds me of the embarassing way President Clinton left his presidency. I do think Governors should govern and Judges should judge.
Huckabee may be a great preacher and a pretty decent person, but Arkansas is where he belongs!
I agree, there is not much negative you can say about Romney's life of service, family focus and business success. He will make our government better and our country stronger in all the ways it matters. Romney is a very admirable man with an admirable life record. This is a man our country can be proud of!
Another great example of a purported Christian
having it both ways. See how holy I am by not
showing this ad?
What an idiot.
I hope Romney pulls his negative garbage now. I'm sick of it.
That is slick way to draw attention to it and get free air time on it. How much free run time is it getting by the press that is showing it in part or whole to satisfy the curiosity?
If Huckabee really did not want to run an "attack" add, he would have never released it to the TV stations or the media. This isn't even flip-flopping, this is talking out of both sides of his mouth “This morning I ordered our staff to pull the ad I told them I do not want it to be run.” Then Huckabee played the ad for every news outlet in the country. Hmmm. . . Actions speak louder than words Huck.
Romney has more money than sense.
That he thinks that he can buy this election is the story.
If someone lies about or distorts another candidates record,
that should be it....they're out!
Does getting involved in politics for a year or 6 months give the american people something to do? I cant figure out any other reason why they would even support Hillary or Obama Or Bloomberg or anyone like this...You cant say with a straight face that you read the news everyday, you wouldnt be saying half the things people have been saying for the past few months about any of these people...Just like the american people as a whole these politicans are generican biproducts of each other formed out of the corportate mold...Dosnt anyone want america to do something again someday? Dosnt anyone want to make money again someday, not have college loan scams when the future is right around the corner and you HAVE to go to college, fictitious morage rates, interest rates, houseing slumps, illegal taxation, over taxation of individuals, the illegal income tax for individual citizens, corporations not saying any taxes at all, america the consumer welfare state, putting into power and supporting numerous dictators throughout south america and the middle east, not moving forward technologicly, crumbling infustructure,poor poor poor education, poor moral values, a violent society, unneccessary school shoots, gun deaths, teachers constantly having sex with their students, the world bank, nafta, cafta....The excuses this country has given in the last 20 years as "progess" or change is untrue..There selling everyone out on this page and across this country, they want you to starve, they want you to be poor, they want to make sure you need to work to pay off all your debts so at least you never ask for a raise in pay, while they pay you 22,000 a year in a market requiring a college degree. Ceo's in this country are getting multi year bonus's of 100 million dollars, people are paying 37% intrest on credit cards, paying 30 % on morage rates, giving people locked in "rates" knowing full well people arnt reading the fine print, the federal reserve charging us for buying money from them, bombing other countries and forming an economy dependent on going to war as a source of capitalism while calling it spreading freedomism, spreading constant lies and letting the meida continue them on without doing anything about it, not saving energy,not caring about the enviroment, health care scams, price of drugs, quality of drugs, quality of science, cost of science, cost of drugs that arnt safe for you, the dangers of legal drugs, the war on drugs, sending money out to leaders murdering their own people because we want to trade with them, letting captialism get out of control and take over the govnt, people being blind to what others are doing to them and using them for...This could go on forever, as far as i know im still free and so is everyone else should probably try and enjoy life a little in this new year and really get some things done
Why claim to have a degree in theology and then refuse to say whether or not Mormons are Christians? Huckabee likes to have it both ways. He maintains the public image of a nice guy at all costs while his underlings go about carrying out the tactics of religious bigotry against Romney – like those we have seen recently in South Carolina.