January 2nd, 2008
02:20 PM ET
10 years ago

Romney rips Huckabee's Leno appearance

Mitt Romney and John McCain are battling for the lead in the Granite State.

Mitt Romney and John McCain are battling for the lead in the Granite State.

BETTENDORF, Iowa (CNN) –- Mitt Romney, who is spending the final day before the caucuses jetting around Iowa, is hitting rival Mike Huckabee for abandoning the Hawkeye State on caucus eve to make an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

"Well, frankly my focus is on the caucuses here in Iowa. I think Mike is more concerned about the caucus in Los Angeles," Romney told voters at Bettendorf Middle School. "So my focus is on getting folks out to vote in the caucus and connecting my message with the people of Iowa. I think that’s the right course for my campaign."

Romney also went out of his way in his opening comments to attack Sen. John McCain, who is campaigning in Iowa today after spending most of the week so far stumping in New Hampshire.

"Welcome to Iowa, senator," Romney said, before repeating his recent criticism of McCain's past opposition to President Bush's tax cuts and support for last summer's controversial immigration reform bill.

Asked if his criticisms of McCain were a kind of pre-emptive strike against his chief Granite State rival heading into the New Hampshire primary vote next week, the usually on-message Romney drew laughs from reporters with his response:

"Actually, I figured you guys would talk to me about Mike Huckabee, so I took the chance to talk to you about John McCain."

Update: Huckabee is also facing heat for likely having to cross the writers' picket line to appear on the show, though earlier Wednesday he told reporters he didn't believe he would have to cross the picket line.

“My understanding is that there was a special arrangement for the late night shows and the writers have made this agreement to let the late night shows come back on. So I don’t anticipate it’s a crossing of the picket line. I support the writers by the way, unequivocally. Absolutely."

In actuality, only David Letterman's show has reached an agreement. Huckabee's campaign says the candidate will still appear on the show.

- CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: Iowa • John McCain • Mike Huckabee • Mitt Romney
soundoff (170 Responses)
  1. Paul

    I'm voting McCain in '08, because I want a President who actually has the integrity, experience, and vision necessary to lead us into a better future. I don't really care if you can play bass or if you can engage in verbal jousting. My name is Paul and I approved this message.

    January 2, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  2. MSM

    Isn't Huckabee a Baptist, he's probably bible thumping in LA since he can't win in Iowa.

    January 2, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  3. Windy

    If you want to talk about bashing people you should look at Huck & McCain. They are the only ones bashing anyone. Look at what is really going on in Iowa. Romney keeps it to the issues and others cant handle the issues just try to attack Romney. I think it is discusting! Especially Huck everything he does is calculated and negative and the only thing you would think he is doing is running to get the highest church position in the state, He is very Pharasitical.

    As far as Romney goes he is the only one with a real plan wthen it comes to immigration, economy, taxes, war etc....

    As far as his church goes, I get so sick of people bringing up his religion. There is nothing wrong with the Mormon church and any one that knows anything about the church can testify to that. People who keep on bringing it up would do well to remember the little commandment from the Lord- "THOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS"

    January 2, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  4. Steve Medeiros New Bedford Massachusetts

    As a resident of Massachusetts I know first hand what Mitt Romney is all about.
    If I were a Republican voting in Iowa John McCain would be my choice. Mitt will promise the world and deliver nothing and the last thing we need is a Mike Huckabee type. Get it straight America..........SEPERATION OF CHURCH AND STATE. Our forefathers had it right and we do not need to go down the road of religious extremists. Look at the mess in the middle east and anyone can certainly see that.
    Thanfully Mr. Bush and his gang are on the way out. Now if we could just convict them and send them to jail.

    January 2, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  5. Ryan

    How does this constitute Romeny "ripping" Huckabee? This is good natured stuff compared to attacking one's religion, as Huckabee has done to Romney. The press, which everyone knows votes 90%+ Democrat, knows that Huckabee doesn't stand a chance against Hillary so they do their best to cast his main opponent (Romney) in a negative light. And unfortunately, it works. There are enough people out there (many who have posted here) who base their opinions/perceptions on the headlines that are spoon-fed to them. Romney is clearly the most capable leader. Look how he turned around Bain & Company, a premier consultancy, and created Bain Capital, a top tier Private Equity firm.

    If anyone's religious background should be scary, it's Huckabee's as a baptist preacher. The fact that Huckabee the Baptist can't tolerate Romney as an active, self-professed church-going Christian makes you wonder how Huckabee's going to deal with others who do not believe as he does.

    But none of this really matters, since Huckabee doesn't stand a chance as a legitimate presidential candidate, whereas Romney does (if he can gather enough steam in the first few states).

    January 2, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  6. C.R., California

    Okay I'm not voting for either of these guys so I don't really care what they say about each other HOWEVER, if Romney was going to make a point about Huckabee's appearance on 'Leno', he should have at least mentioned the fact that by crossing the WGA picket line to make his appearance, Huckabee is (whether he wants to admit it or even realizes it) sending out an anti-union message. The writers are not the only ones affected by the WGA strike - it also affects thousands of crew members and small business owners who rely on these productions to go on for their livelihoods. THAT is what people should be upset about (and yes, while some writers DO make $200K a year, that is more the exception than the rule). /end soapbox

    January 2, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  7. Mike

    This is one of the first times Mitt has taken any kind of a jab at an opponent and it is a very light one. His so-called "negative ads" highlight policy differences. It's not negative campaigning to tell voters how other candidates have come out on various issues–that's just campaigning. Huckabee and McCain, in calling Mitt dishonest, have been the ones throwing the low blows. Romney attacks their record and they attack his integrity–that's dirty politics. Huckabee went even further by poking fun at Romney's religion in a recent New York Times interview.

    January 2, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  8. stunnedsilence

    Huckabee Unveils Negative Ad In Order To Condemn ItThe Washington Post reported yesterday that Mike Huckabee "took an unorthodox gamble in his bid for the presidency Monday, unveiling an attack ad against" Mitt Romney "and then immediately pledging not to run it in the hopes of appealing to the better nature of Iowa voters." Huckabee appeared "flanked by posters his campaign produced to question Romney's credibility" as he "decried gutter politics in America but then directed the attention of scores of reporters and television cameras to a movie screen, where he played the 30-second hit piece on Romney's honesty and record." Said the former governor, "I pulled the ad. I do not want it to be run at all." However, the Post noted, "the ad was being played on national television and had been posted on blogs and other Web sites - without costing his campaign a penny."The New York Times also said "the circumstances of the commercial and the nature of free media, particularly now with YouTube, make it likely that the advertisement will be viewed far more often than if it had simply run. There is a long history of news coverage guaranteeing a commercial publicity that money could not buy."Fox News' Special Report reported Romney "pulled no punches, ridiculing Huckabee for announcing to a roomful of reporters yesterday that he decided not to air a tough attack on Romney right before playing bits and pieces for all to see." Romney: "I don't think Governor Huckabee was able to fool the media. ... I don't think he'll fool the people of Iowa. It's like saying 'I'm not going to call my opponent any names but if I were going to call him names, here are the names I would call him.'" Fox went on to air what it called " the Huckabee ad you were never meant to see."The CBS Evening News asked Huckabee whether he regrets showing the ad. The former Arkansas governor said, "You know, at the time I thought it was an important way to prove that we actually had it. Probably if I had it to do over again I wouldn't have shown it." Sheesh how much will evangelicals swallow in Iowa, before they see this guy for what he is. "Oh I only said in passing ", to a New York Times (One of the biggest LDS misnomers) Reporter no less, that I wondered if Mormons believe that Satan is the brother of Jesus. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJsxNwAmLT4 And then let's see I will (ala "I will not air this ad, but this is what it would have said" in front of the essentially the whole nation) not unring that bell by announcing on a national debate that I will apologize to poor Mitt for my "Satan's brother slip of the tongue. Let's not forget the fact that he is counting on more freebies by having his network of evangelical pastors get his constituancy out to vote during the caucuses. Does his suspicious record of taking so many gifts, and those gift gives strangely coming into nice appointments back in Arkansas seem to add up now? This guy is the biggest "Earned Media, gift taking, religion peddling Huckster's to come down the pike in many years. He makes Jim Bakker look like a choir boy. If Iowans back him it will really go a long way in handing the white house over to the Democrats next January. Every republican pundit says his past will be undoing in a general election, but don't tell that the evangelicals backing him now, to them he's the second coming. Oh well, you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

    January 2, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  9. He's at it again

    http://www.arktimes.com/blogs/arkansasblog/2008/01/dumond_pressure.aspx#comments NEWS RELEASE MOTHER OF WAYNE DUMOND VICTIM DEMANDS GOV. HUCKABEE RELEASE ALL OF HIS GUBERNATORIAL RECORDS REGARDING WAYNE DUMOND Ms. Lois Davidson issued a statement today through a newly formed 527 group named Victims Voice calling on Gov. Mike Huckabee to release his gubernatorial records regarding Wayne Dumond before the Caucus Elections on January 3, 2007. Ms. Davidson was surprised to learn of other victims who had written Gov. Huckabee warning him of the likelihood of Mr. Dumond committing repeat offenses if he were released. These letters were not in the records at the State Parole Board because they were letters sent directly to Governor Huckabee's office. These letters were made public due to the reporting of the Huffington Post(1) who obtained a copy of the letters from a former employee of Governor Huckabee. Ms. Davidson would like to know if any other letters were sent to Gov. Huckabee from former victims, prosecutors, victims advocacy groups or any one else. Ms. Davidson would also like to see copies of any internal memos that may explain the rationale for Mr. Huckabee's decision to support the release of Wayne Dumond. Additionally, in light of a recent report by National Review and others regarding Mr. Eugene Fields, whose sentence Gov. Huckabee commuted after Mr. Fields donated a substantial amount of money to the Republican Party of Arkansas(2); and the revelation that Wayne Dumond's wife's boss held a recent fundraiser for Gov. Huckabee(3), Ms. Davidson would ask Gov. Huckabee to release the donor lists to all of the "funds" which he received compensation from (Action America, Next Step Foundation, Twelve Stop Foundation, etc?).

    January 2, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  10. John

    Huckabee must think Iowans really hate union workers, since he's left Iowa for the purpose of crossing the Writers' Guild of America picket line at the Tonight show.

    January 2, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  11. Ukoha Njoku

    Mitt is a Mormon. The mormons preach about God and Love but Mitt with his anti-immigration posture has proven that he dispises Gods own children. Where is the Love that mormons speakes about?

    January 2, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  12. Claire

    I'm sick of negative campaigning. In my opinion it just makes the speaker look worse.

    having said that, I can't stand Mitt Romney in general. Maybe I would like him if I met him in person but I think his politics are totally skewed and he seems untrustworthy. I sort of feel like he is trying to con America with his charm.

    Could just be the media's spin on things though, who knows?

    January 2, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  13. Renaisauce

    You guys complain all you want. When it comes down to it, it's going to be Romney vs. Obama. Romney has resources and credentials and has been the only candidate consistently in the top two (remember when it looked like a heat between him and Giuliani?) Huckabee doesn't have the leadership skills and can't shake the preacher image, McCain is too old, Fred Thompson is asleep, and Giuliani is too divisive. As for Clinton, people will eventually realize that it would be like voting for Bill again, only with less saxophone, and if you don't remember, that didn't turn out to well, either. I look forward to the Romney-Obama debates: they'll be the best we've seen in at least 20 years.

    January 2, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  14. Matt

    Letterman is better than Leno anyways. Looks to me like Huckabee has a problem with concentration and fortitude. They would have agreed to a different date for him to appear if they would have asked, free advertisement if he doesnt get ripped on too bad by Leno. Romney is in it to win it.

    January 2, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  15. Willy

    Romney would be a DISASTER for this country because the Mormon church would have the White House. I beg all Iowans to vote for Huckabee, and New Hampshires to vote for McCain!!

    January 2, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  16. Chris

    Wait, isn't Mormonism the one that didn't allow african americans in until long after the civil rights movement started to leave them with the other fossils? Isn't that the one whose leader, before his days of unsuccessful government coups, claimed proof of divine mandate then refused to anyone? Isn't that the one where people come a'knockin' on your door to make sure you're ok, and oh that you've paid your tithes, if you didn't show up that sunday? I think I'm familiar with the LDS.

    But that is all beside the point. You may want to read the last months news with who attacked who first for being soft on immigration. Romney is a terrible candidate, regardless of what terrible religion he follows.

    January 2, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  17. Joe

    Romney is the real deal. Try to keep an open mind and form your own opinion and listen to MItt as I did for the first time recently. Huckster and McCain are not even in his league for ideas. If Mitt was weak the Dems would not be on these boards bashing Mitt too in our primary. The Dems would love the Huckster to win in Iowa and McCain in NH.
    Mitt and Rudy will make a great ticket in 08.

    January 2, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  18. Ted, Gilbert AZ

    I love how the Huckabees all think Romney has done nothing but bash his opponents. He brinigs up issues he points out Huckabee's record. He does not make personal attacks on Huckabee like Huckabee does. Romney could go negative and show how Huckabee has been named one of the ten most corropt politicians by Judicial Watch. He is one of only two republicans on the list. Huckabee and McCain are both attacking Romney because Romney is running a strong campaign in both states while Huckabee and McCain only focus on one state. Then Huckabee supporters attack Romney because he has been very successful. I have always taught my children that if they did well in school and worked hard America would allow them to do anything. I guess you are more of an American if you set up a gift registry when leaving office and take money from others while governor. And let's not forget the shameless religious bigotry he has shown to both Mormons and Catholics (he attacked Brownback as being Catholic when campaigning in Iowa)

    January 2, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  19. Jon Sanderson



    Huck's a bozo!

    January 2, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  20. Chris S - Gerald, MO

    I'm beginning to like this guy more and more. If he truly wanted to appear on TV he could have bought himself a station. Instead he was out stumping. Exit stage left Huckabee.

    Edwards/Romney '08

    January 2, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  21. Iowa Bob

    I am so sick of the phony televangelist Huckster. Where's his "gravitas"? Romney has every right to talk about the issues and about his opponents' horrible records on crime, immigration, taxes, spending, corruption, etc. Isn't that what elections are about? Only Romney has the combination of experience, character and competence to win the election and turn America around!

    January 2, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  22. Jeff Wehr

    I agree with Brian from Buffalo, Romney has turned me off with his attacks. Mitt, you were doing fine, why did you mess it up?

    January 2, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  23. happynewyear

    Candidates need to show how they differ from other candidates.

    Mitt Romney's contrast adds have been just that, contrasting his record with the records of other candidates.

    Mike Huckabee and John McCain have responded by ATTACKING. And, not attacking his record, but making personal attacks.

    This has shown me who is the kind of candidate I want to support, and it's not Huckabee or McCain.

    January 2, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  24. angela

    Are you kidding me Mitt! My Lord stop the attacks! I've YET to hear what you think about anything, except your complaints about Huckabee and McCain. Are you REALLY running for something? Shouldn't you be selling yourself, your plans, your agenda? "God don't like ugly!" Didn't your mama ever tell you that?

    January 2, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  25. Wynter, Loudon, NH

    Romney's is trying his best not to cry as he prays for a win in Iowa. Because when he gets back to New Hampshire he will be coldly recieved. The man hasn't an honest bone in his body. And most of New Hampshire has come to that conclusion.

    He smiles and speaks eloquently for the public, but what comes out is pure politics. And typically nothing he says is truth. He spins his record. He spins the facts on other candidates. When he isn't spinning, he is making up fantasies like when he saw his dad march for Martin Luther King. The man has shown his colors to the people of New England and no one is buying his act now.

    Telling it like I see it,
    Loudon, NH

    January 2, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
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