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
There isn't much negative you could say about Romney, so Huckabee's team didn't have much to say. Romney is a successful family man, business man and political leader!
Romney is a force for positive change.....just what our country needs!
Go Mitt....take Iowa!!
The pro Romney press is already attacking Huckabee by saying that he contrived this press conference to attack Romney and be a nice guy at the same time. How sad that we are so used to putrid dirty politics that when a man like Mike Huckabee does the right thing, we find a way to drag him down. I do not have anything against Mitt. If America wants 8 more years of tax breaks for corporate billioniars who send all their jobs over seas. Along with a never ending war in Iraq then vote Mitt and live with it. For me, I want a fresh start without having to drink the Koolaid and vote for a liberal left wing democrat. If Mitt does spend his way to the nomination then I will join the Lou Dobbs movement and register Independent.
you forgot to add the part where after showing the ad to the media who were there, they broke out laughing. Huckabee is soo funny. He must think everyone is as stupid as he is if we can't see through his thin veiled attempt to manipulate the voters and the media. "Look at me, I'm taking the high road, but by the way don't forget to talk about my negative ad I just showed the press corp. But I'm not showing this ad really!" I bet Jon Stewart is dying during this writer strike with all this great material.
Because he was hoping to look as if he was the "good guy" by walking out to the media and saying he was pulling it. He also was hoping the media would do his dirty work by playing it for him, he has hinted that it might end up on "youtube".
Just trying to get more free coverage.
Huckabee is a snake!
I am not sure how to feel about this. He has been consistent with his no negative ads policy. But commen sense politics says you are supposed to fight back when attacked. His turning the other cheek may cost him Iowa.
Wow, elect him because he's a breeder! That's the lamest reasoning I've heard yet.
Are you serious Justin from Des Moines? Huckabee has 3 kids! Talk about just coming up with lies. It's amazing to me how some of these people just hate Mike Huckabee.
I like the guy a lot. I think he's a good man. He's an honest politician. A good communicator. And regardless of whether someone votes for him or not, there needs to be respect.
Do you think you could stand up to the pressure this man has? After having all of these criticisms thrown at you unjustly? I admire his courage to take this stand.
If all he wanted to do by showing it was to prove that it existed, why didn't he ask the reporters to turn their cameras off?
If Huckabee really wanted to run a clean campaign he would have just pulled the ads without showing reporters. This was a publicity stunt. If he waffles on something this basic then he isn't as morally strong as he trys to project.
Isn't funny that CNN runs a headliner of Romney's untruths....
But this Huckabee story plays about the 5th story down??? Why is the media so afraid of Mitt Romney?
Oh I know because he can beat the democrats..
Yes, But Romney has Character Issues with Lying, and also he belongs to a false religion (who knows how that could affect his judgement – as in some cases no religion is better than false religious cult).
How can anyone here believe that Huckabee pulled the ad just to "pretend" he has integrity? A 30-second premium that would reach tens of thousands of viewers on Election Week does not come cheap. It is a waste to his financial resources to do so. My guess is that his political advisors are tearing their hair out, having advised him to make the ad, and he was morally against it from the start, waiting to put his foot down until the last moment.
I support McCain, but an act that seems to look honest from far away MIGHT still be honest when scrutinized up close. Stop blasting Huckabee for preventing needless mud-slinging, if weakly so.
Huckabee has no children. Huckabee professes to be such a staunch Christian and does not believe in evolution but creationism. So much for the national science foundation, so much for space exploration. Lets close MIT and JPL. I bet he thinks nuclear weapons were invented by Evangelicals. NOT, try Germans and Jews. How ironic!!
We should stop funding and pushing for higher grades in math and science, after all, that's why we have the chinese as our biggest supplier of toys and technology. Do we even make our own weapons systems or did we send all of our schematics and drawings so they could build them for us? This country is being looted by the likes of the so-called neo-CONS...they are con artists and this guy is right up there with Romney on being a CON MAN.
I can't wait to ask taxpayers to cough up every last dime they have to fund a war we don't need just because this man is so delusional he thinks the God Almighty is whispering in his ear "...armageddon..." and if this country buys one of these two guys BS then the world deserves to end because it's over populated with idiots.
This is a punch to the face! Yes Huckabee, I'm as smart as your foreign policy.
From the responses to this story you would get the feeling most of the people are Romney supporters and like Romney himself they are trained in suttle attempts at mis information. Put Mustache on him and he looks like a certain german! Bad character assination for anyone to do (politics or not) He has no children how can a man with no children make a good president. This writer needs to check his facts (Huckabee has 3)maybe he should learn more on Huckabee and most issues before commenting.
I have no problem with anyone commenting on an issue or a statement but to just scream the man is wafling(point out the candidate who has not I can find cases in everones record and statements ) Making slams about his stance on being a Christian( All Candidates have right to their own view of Religion including Romney)
Sooner everyone campaigns on issues sooner America will have a better electorial process and good candidates to choose from. Most of this blog is some what comical in that it shows the lack of most of the readers ability to differentiate between facts and emotional bias.
I'm not sold on Huckabee, McCain , Rudy G or Romney as the Republican nominee the more time we spend on stuff like this and not issues the poorer we will all be on finding the right candidate
I admire Huckabee's sense of integrity and ethics, especially in the sort of mudslinging that' s been going around. But I do not want this man to be president. He has given me no confidence that he actually knows anything about foreign policy or economics, or that he has the wisdom to lead America.
This guy is a con artist. He makes Elmer Gantry look like a saint...He seemed like an honest sincere guy for a while then came the ridiculous hunting trip and now this..What a pathetic candidate.
I don't know guys. I am a hard core democrat and I find myself pulling for the underdog. Who is he beholden to? No one. That is one reason he is looked at so favorably. Being an Arkansan I know that there was a lot of things that had to be handled. School consolidations to maintain equality of schooling in rural area's, drought, and road construction projects. Arkansas now is showing a record surplus and instead of squandering it before he left office Huckabee passed it onto his successor, a democrat. Who is now lowering the tax rates. Interesting at the least, he will get another look from me if it if not Obama on the other side.
This may shock several of you but I truly believe Mike Huckabee has been purposely, although subtly sabatoging his campaign for the last week. I don't believe for 1 second that he really wants to be President. of all the USA. He just wants to be Pastor of all the Baptists.
He realizes now he's in over his head. Especially since he knew NOTHING about Pakistan, can't defend his political records with any substantial explanation and has obviously taken all the blows he can take. It's a knock-out folks, let the guy out of the ring, would you?!?!
The Democrats would EAT HIM UP and I think HUCK WANTS OUT! Free Huck from his nightmare! And pull for Romney, he can handle it all from campaigning to running this country and making it the best it can be!!
Maybe this wasnt' the right thing to do..but hey guys .. does
not change the fact that is an ugly politician that would do anything
to achieve his goals.. including breaking a longtime republican
tradition of not attacking other republicains to gain advantage..
He is using his money and resources to make a point.. I can control
anything with my wealth and all you other poor candidates are nothing
Well..I gpt news for Mitt. come down south baby for your funeral..you
sick mormon yankee..
Ron Paul is not in over his head. The rest are drowning in the lies within their souls.
This guy is a class act. Huckabee makes me proud to be Republican again!
Shame...Huck is such a hypocrite!
I am disappointed by all the negative coverage in the press and in the blogs that Huckabee has received on his press conference regarding his negative add against Romney. As usual, the press builds someone up in the public eye and then tears them down, all to build excitement for their broadcasts and columns. If folks are really paying attention they would know that Huckabee has a new, small campaign staff and is obviously struggling with how to run his campaign, especially advertising, with limited time and very limited money. As for me, I am convinced Huckabee and his campaign staff were indeed conflicted over when and how often to run the negative add they produced in response to Romney's highly effective attack adds (as shown in the Iowa polls). I fail to see how changing strategy for a TV add in a campaign can be compared to changing one’s position on abortion, etc.!
Showing the add in the press conference made sense because the add was set to run on TV one day anyway and the add states many of the same criticisms of Romney that Huckabee has been saying in his campaign stops. Huckabee recognizes that there is a difference in stating his criticisms in a TV add. It is highly invasive and repulsive to many Americans to have negative political attack adds inserted into their favorite TV programs before every election. (These are also more expensive and very often more effective.)
I agree that Huckabee cannot say he has ran a purely positive campaign, but to me he has not responded in kind to even attempt to blanket the airwaves and mailboxes of each Iowan with negative Romney propaganda.
As for the criticism that Huckabee was disingenuous with pulling his add but then showing it to the press, many fewer Iowans will see the add now, and again, it will not be thrust upon them in their living rooms, unless they are looking for it on CNN, today. Surely no one thinks that this short-lived "free advertising" is designed to or will be any match for the Romney add campaign. And I am a Democrat...
I warned all you guys early about this country bumpkin! He masquerades as a sweet, innocent, and amiable guy, but underneath his veneer is a proud and arrogant man, who is very anti-Mormon. He not only blundered early in his campaign about the Jesus/Satan brothers thing, but he has been the keynote speaker at an anti-Mormon rally in 1998 at Salt Lake City, under the auspices of the Southern Baptist Convention. Additionally, it has been reported that all of his previous sermons from years past are locked-up. What else does he have to hid? He is the phoney.
Huck's run for the Presidency will soon fizzle-out and justifiably so. He should eventually play elecric bass in Itchycoo Park, for the remainder of his career.