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. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    to dennis December 31, 2007 10:38 pm ET

    This guy is a class act. Huckabee makes me proud to be Republican again!


    Always interesting to hear from the 26% of the loyal kool-aid drinkers. There is no pride in being a Republican. You had complete control of all three branches of government for 6 years and pi$$ed it away in weekly scandals. Now Trent Lott and the rest are bailing out before their terms are done,

    Proud to be American! No pride in being a Republican.

    January 1, 2008 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  2. Ajay Jain, Garland, TX

    I saw the Huckabee attack ad. Where is the BEEF? There is no substance to respond to all the Romney allegations on commutations, illegal immigration, taxes etc.

    Go Hillary44 08!

    January 1, 2008 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  3. Phil Memphis, TN

    Wow. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. Did he really think the press and the American public were that stupid? OK, Imaybe I can understand the press, but the public?

    January 1, 2008 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  4. Linette, Lexington MA

    TIME magazine: PLEASE write some articles about anybody else than Mike Huckabee. The man would be a complete disaster for the Republican party. Out of the 6 front page articles on the TIME's "Politics" site, 4 of them how a picture of Huckabee. A little biased, aren't we? Get a clue and give America a real choice.

    January 1, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  5. paul, nyc ny

    Odd really when you think about it, but the two candidates running for office with their religions emblazoned on their chests like the names of universities on a sweatshirt that they are the two doing the mostt mean-spirited and MOST un-christian like attacks.

    Hmmm, I guess we are all part god and part devil.

    January 1, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  6. Allyson - cedar falls, iowa

    Huckabee – a man, who is quick to point out the only candidate with a theology degree – is the same man that was a key note speaker at the Southern Baptist Convention in Salt Lake City in 1998 preaching hell, fire and brimstone against the Mormons. Yet, explained he didn't know much about Mormons in the New York Times Magazine article, followed up with a distorted question meant to smear the Mormom faith.

    We are respectful of his religion and haven't attacked him for his "wierd" ideas, can't he show others the same respect?

    One of our thirteen tenets proclaims, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”

    We are not perfect, but I am sure you will see that we are worthy of protection from bigotry.

    January 1, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  7. Jamie

    I've been reading some comments on this page comparing Huckabee's actions with the ad to dealing with, and I'm paraphrasing, "Iran and/or mean, icky-faced Muslim countries". Could anyone explain the connection? Last I checked, Presidential campaigns always get run along these lines. Lots of people who call themselves conservatives loved Pres. Bush when he was campaigning, and he didn't know the name of the gentleman over in Pakistan who does all that...RULING AND BEING IN CHARGE! Yet we have established fairly strong ties to Pakistan under our current president. The point is, the campaign is an entirely different animal than actual policy making.

    January 1, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  8. K Wilkinson Texas

    For being such a "Christian Man" he sure is a little devil !!

    January 1, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  9. Jen Cedar Falls, IA

    OK, this guy comes to Iowa to win the Caucus. He takes time to organize photo ops such as his hunting (if you hunt, vote for me, Elmer Fudd) and running in 17 degree weather (wow, he wants the runners' votes) and his now infamous negative ad that he's low enough to make, but not low enough to show anyone (but the press, right!!!).

    With all this time to kill, he still had little knowledge of Pakistan, its borders and the fact that military rule had been halted? He turns it into an immigration topic? His record shows that he was willing to give scholarships to children of illegal immigrants for crying out loud!!!!! He can't provide good answers to why his record shows so much ^taxing, support of illegals, freeing convicts.

    Should this man really be chosen to lead our country with such limited international knowledge and a horrible political record? Putting all the religious issues aside, this man is ill-fitted for the job!

    This ad-flip/flop just tops it all. He OK'd it, filmed it, called in the press, showed it to them and then ran like a caught robber saying he didn't mean it. Yeah, sure! Free Huck from this nightmare! He can't seriously want to be the President with this type of behavior! The Dem's would eat him alive first anyway! If he thinks the factual ads Romney ran on him were bad, he ain't seen NOTHING yet.

    January 1, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  10. Deb

    I just could not vote for a man like Huckabee! What a snake in the grass! I'm a Christian and I'm not fooled! I much prefer Romney. If Huckabee don't feel the record Romney has given us is correct then why doesn't Huckabee tell us all what is correct?

    January 1, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  11. Marti, FL

    This is the same as his underhanded stunt he pulled with the NY Times.

    Huckbee then: I am not going to say anything bad about Mormoms, BUT don't they believe.....?

    Huckabee now: I am not going to release this negative attack ad, BUT if you will just turn your attention for moment to the monitor behind me....

    Give me a break. This is so transparent.

    January 1, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  12. Rick, Washington DC


    January 1, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  13. J Williamson Buffalo, NY

    Aw, sweet! If I pull the ad that just proves what a nice and upstanding guy I am, right? Of course, I'll roll it to the media folks so THEY can show it, and I'll save lots of money too, since it's on their dime. Nice going Mike!

    January 1, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  14. hernann

    Keep doing what your heart things is right. we will keep praying for you, trust God we hope to have a candidate with strong moral value this is the most important thing to help this country to rise from the decadency on moral value

    January 1, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  15. Erik

    I think Huckabee is a sincere, likable guy. However, its become increasingly clear that he has a white hot temper and a hard time remaning level headed while under pressure. Overall, Huckabee seems very different to me now than he did at the begining of the his campaign. His charisma seems to be vaporating while being replaced with a frantic furry. But, I still cant help liking the guy – personally.

    January 1, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  16. jane

    I'm sad for those who have projected onto Huckabee, the candidate that they wanted, only to find his feet are made of clay. I still like his dimples though, and he WAS funny sometimes, but this does NOT make a viable president who can protect the constitution and us!

    Romney attacked the RECORDS of his opponents with their stands on ISSUES on his ad, which is what we are SUPPOSED to be comparing. Right??

    Huckabee and MaCain both made PERSONAL attacks against Romney, and this last "joke" of a "pulled" add is unbelievable in its slime. So have you "sold your soul, then Mike as you PUT this negative add out - and MADE sure it got played to the media, whose job is to do WHAT? Yes, and with their video cameras all rolling etc??, You even had to work and WORK with the system to get it to show!!

    By the way- anyone catch the bit in his press release just before the "pulled" negative add - I paraphrase– "3 min. would not be enough to cover all the problems in my record that my opponents BELIEVE they see" - well he told the truth THERE!!!

    Also, I sure wish I could see again the bit on the news last night about body language and how to tell when someone is truthful, as in my memory, when they blink a LOT- it indicates a lie, and when they look down or to the left etc. I remember a certain part where Mike was REALLY blinking, and a LOT of looking to the left and down! Also a LOT of different stories about the time line of when he decided to pull it- and somehow they didn't have time to take negative things off the easels in the room??? - You can just take the poster off the stand, turn it face away and lean it against the wall. - Has he no workers to do this? incredible?? maybe he is too poor to take down the negative posters?

    That charge about distortions of his record from Huckabee against Romney- then Mikes' add (that he hopes no one will see??) acts like it is Mitts fault for NO deaths for criminals, when I believe the state does not allow it??? Sheeish!

    What about Mikes NOT having a theology degree? Did you people see that he only took SOME classes on religion and went to SOME seminary- which is worse– to make a bigger deal of hunting or of your RELIGION experience??? GO MITT!!!

    January 1, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  17. arfisher, Midlothian, VA

    Huckabee does have a family. See photo below:

    January 1, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  18. David MacMillan

    Some people simply have no reasoning ability any more.

    After being repeatedly splattered by Romney's blatantly dishonest and misleading ads (it IS misleading to say that you were "tough on drugs like meth" when you know full well that Arkansas meth penalties are FAR higher than those in Massachusetts), Mike's campaign prepared a direct ad to attack Romney's smear tactics. He prepared a press conference to announce and explain the new ad (even made "Enough is enough" banners), but decided after much consideration to NOT resort to negative campaigning and pull the ad. Lest some stations fail to pull the ad in time, he went ahead and held the press conference to explain. He refused to hand out copies of the ad (which he had ready on DVD) and instead showed a low-quality poor-angle projection to the press to prove that this whole thing wasn't just a gimmick.

    Mike has run a positive campaign from the beginning. Defending yourself by calling lies for what they are isn't negativity; it's honesty. Even though this negative attack ad was the traditional thing to do, Mike decided not to run it because it would tarnish his reputation and betray the confidence of all the people to whom he said he would not run a negative campaign.

    A candidate makes a decision to take the high road, and all you self-proclaimed pundits can do is squall, "He's honestly wanting to run a positive campaign – it must be a trick! I DON'T LIKE HUCKABEE!" You ought to be ashamed of yourselves. Will Americans ever grow up?

    Thankfully, most of the voters have grown up enough that they won't be so ready to point the finger. Unlike Rich Boy Romney, Mike chose NOT to sacrifice his integrity for a political advantage, on Thursday this will be to his benefit. His experience, honesty, and integrity paint him in a sharp contrast to the rest of the Republican and Democrat electoral fields and the voter's knowledge of this will carry him straight to November's ballot and January's inauguration.

    Oh – and there's nothing misleading about saying Romney never carried out and execution. Mitt says he is tough on crime (an issue important to Iowa voters) but he comes from a state without the death penalty! The public needs to know, but Mike won't lower himself to Romney's level by telling them. Kudos to Mike.

    January 1, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  19. Glenn

    Comment from an Independent: ALL of the Republican candidates look like clowns, for one reason or another. Anti-evolution, blindly pro-war, anti-stem cell research, fear-mongering, striving to abolish the sacred separation of church and state, HYPOCRITICAL to the core. They all have one or more fatal flaws. I feel like they ought to emerge from a tiny clown car at each debate. We can all just be thankful that the Democrates are going to occupy the White House again after our country has very nearly been desroyed by the "W cabal"

    January 1, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  20. Harold

    I don't trust Huckabee. He acts lke an innocent sheep, but I can see through him.
    He is a mean and sleazy guy underneath. His true color starts to show
    as Mitt Romney is taking over him in the poll.

    January 1, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  21. Ron

    Huckabee is trying to play voters for chumps!
    Wow, the contemp he has for the public!
    He thinks we are fools.
    What a slimy, decietful and stupid thing to do.
    I hope Huck loses Iowa....he deserves it.

    January 1, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  22. Richard, Ewing NJ

    McCain and Huckabee are correct that Mitt Romney's attack ads are dishonest. They are not issue ads because they distort the truth. Romney's TV ads accused Huckabee's lack foreign policy experience. Well, Romney has no foreign policy experience neither. They were both governor and they have the same kind of experience. When Romney ads uses Condi Rice's "ludicrous" to describe Huckabee foreign policy, that was so misleading that it was a lie. Secretary Rice was commenting one statement Huckabee made about Bush's bunker mentality being ludicrous, not about Huckabee foreign policy. To give you a very simple, I live in Ewing. If someone says the best BBQ is down from the southern states, where Richard lives. Well, I may say it is ludicrous to say I live down south, but that does not mean I believe "the best BBQ is down from the southern states". Romney attack ads on McCain are worse. He accused that McCain support amnesty for illegal immigrants. That is right out a lie. First, let us not forget that Romney supported the bill. Yes, Romney always has multiple positions in very short amount of time. Let's me quote a quick description of the bill:

    "Under the Senate bill, he (Bill Frist) said, those who have been in the country two to five years would enter a temporary-worker program, while those inside longer would be eligible for legal status or citizenship after an 11-year probationary period. They would first have to meet other criteria, including learning English, and paying a penalty and back taxes.

    Under the Senate legislation, illegal immigrants in the United States less than two years would be returned to their home countries."

    These illegal immigrants need to learn English, pay a penalty, pay taxes back and then they enter a 11 year probationary period before becoming a citizen. That is not the amnesty.


    January 1, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  23. Rick, Sioux Falls, SD

    Sounds like the kind of cheap political trick honed by a small state governor through years of experience. You gather the press together (at the state level nobody in the press would dare hit you too hard or they'd be moving out of state to continue their profession). then you do the wrong thing (publicizing the negative ad) while at the same time telling them you're not going to do it – you're going to take the high road (even though you haven't).

    Then, one of two things will happen. 1) some of the press will listen to your words and forget your dirty deed – crediting you for taking the high road – press reports will go out saying you're a peach of a guy. Then the press runs the negative ad and tells everyone about it; or 2) the press is critical of you, but they run the negative ad and tell everybody about it.

    When you're a flat broke Presidential candidate trying to pull off a huge upset, you want all of the free press you can get. Why should Hubcapabee use his limited resources to pay for the ad when he can generate all kinds of free press by putting the ad into the public sphere and telling everybody "I don't want you to watch it! (wink wink)"?

    I still haven't figured out yet which of the Presidential candidates is the Antichrist. I've narrowed it down to Romney, Hillary, Giuliani, and yes – Huckabee.

    January 1, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  24. Fred, Gilbert AZ

    david. Huckabee has taken the high road you are kidding right. Let's look at his attacks on Brownback and Romney's religion. He can call Romney dishonest but Romney has not even scratched the surface of Huckabee's record. He is named one of the most corropt politicians by Judicial Watch along with mainly democrats. He accepts gifts and money while governor and while leaving office. He destroys hard drives that could have shown more abuses. He was found guilty of five ehtical violations. He pressures the parole board to release someone who goes on to rape and murder again. This guy is dishonest unethical and would lead Bloomberg to enter the race which would guarantee a democratic victory.

    January 1, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  25. Fred, Gilbert AZ

    One last thing atacking Romney because he has been successful on business and wealthy is really smart. Do we want a CEO of America who can live the American Dream or someone who begs others for money. Romney has turned around companies, olympics and he can do the same for America. I have taught mychildren that if they stay in school and work hard anything is possible but I guess some people feel that is a bad thing. They are surely not the republicans of Ronald Reagan.

    January 1, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
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