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. Mike Allen

    Carefull Mitt, your horns are starting to poke though your five hundred dollar hair cut. I hope Mitts ugly attack ads that he has spent millions of dollars on reap for him what he is sowing.

    January 2, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  2. Cephas

    Ok folks, anybody who thinks Romney was doing anything more than having a bit of fun with the media is simply kidding themselves. Fun at his opponents expense I agree but light hearted fun nevertheless.

    Also folks, if you think this is negative campaigning then I'd like to know where you were for the last 20 or 30 years. This aint nothing. Romney has been a gentlemen compared to what we've seen int he past – on both sides of the political aisle. Its getting a little more hype on CNN and FOX than usual but trust me this aint nuttin' – and it could get alot worse before its all over.

    Lastly, wouldn't it be nice to have a political discussion, about a political news article without bringing up Mitt's religion. It would be nice if some of the American electorate would grow up, a little. Besides folks you don't want to start a tit-for-tat discussion about evangelists or SBC's – their records ain't been none too good – especially lately.

    January 2, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  3. RSatina, Leesburg, Virginia

    Media are saying that Mitt Romney has the most efficient campaign strategy.....then what does that manifest? Good leadership !!! McCain mismanaged his campaign finances --you figure out. . .

    January 2, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  4. Richard, Ewing, NJ

    Not true. Mitt's ad are the standard attack ads with Democratic style. Attack with a touch of truth. He twists facts and myths together. Hsi ads accused Huckabee has a weak foreign policy and that Condi Rice called Huckabee foreign policy Ludicous. No, Condi rice said Huckabee accusation of Bush has a buner mentality is ludicous, not Huckabee foreign policy. I live in Ewing. If you were to say that it is important for republicans to win the southern states such as where Richard is living... Well, I will say you are ludicous to claim I live in the southern states, but that is not to say your statement about winning the southern states is ludicous. Romeny continously makes very dishonest claims. He accused McCain want amnesty for all illegal immirgant and allows all illegal immigrant to become citizens. First, Romney supported the bill before he against the bill. Second, it is not an amesty bill. Second, under the senate bill, the illegal immigrants need to pay a fee, pay all the missing taxes and apply for a working permit. If they want to become US citizen, they need to learn English and will be put ona 12 year probition. How is that amnesty? In the case, the illegal immigrant lived in US less than 2 years, they will be deported back and they have to reapply to come over here. It is not an amnesty bill. Is McCain allowing illegal immigrants to have a chance to become citizen? Sure. But nothing like what Romney suggested.

    January 2, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  5. Kevin, Chadron, NE

    Romney needs to tout his own credentials rather than bash on his opponents. He doesn't exactly have the greatest record either. The caucuses are pretty much all but decided, voters may say they haven't chose a candidate yet but chances are they're leaning towards someone. Plus Huckabee's still got staff in Iowa working around the clock. By going on Leno, the first night it's back, he's going to get a lot of national attention, not just Iowa or California. In a few hours Iowa is over and the rest of the Nation begins, it's a smart move on the Huckabee Camp's part in my opinion.

    January 2, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  6. Steven Jones

    It is getting closer to the big day and so many of you are still very confused. I am a Mormon and I am voting for Mitt.No, not because he is Mormon, but because he would be the best President. Yes, his values are in line with mine and I really like that. Mitt has a big following from the members of the Mormon faith, not the literal church itself. If Harry Reid, also a Mormon, ran for President he would not get the same backing because his stance on moral issues would be questioned. It's not a Mormon thing, it's a Mitt thing. Mitt has been accused of bashing the other candidates, not true. He has brought stances on issues forward. I think it's a justice to the American people to know the stances of potential Presidents. If you want to see bashing take a look at the Democratic election, that's bashing. To many of you who may read this blog I want you to know I am thankful to be a Christian. I am thankful to know that no matter who the President is come this November I know who really is in charge. With Him on our side we are all winners in this election.

    January 2, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  7. Nathan

    Those who diatribe against Mitt for his alleged “attacks” shows that they don't understand the political nature of elections. There are differences between candidates and there are multiple ways about trying to show those differences. One way is to have ads that share your ideas. You also have ads that show somebody else’s' ideas. Alone, neither are very good in widening the gap between you and your opponent. The best method to show the difference between two people is to share facts from both sides. Mitt does both. So does Huck. In fact, Hucks bizarre trickery on Monday confirms that he is playing both sides of the game. A game which both are playing magnificently well. Too bad people get sucked up into the game when they don't really understand the rules.

    January 2, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  8. shirley

    Attacks? comme on people..... DO A LITTLE RESEARCH ON WHAT HAS BEEN SAID ABOUT MITT ROMNEY. HE'S NOT ATTACKING ANYONE. CNN YOU REALLY SCREWED UP THE HEADLINE ON THAT ONE. So a person's religion and core belifies can be spat at but a person can't say anything about a person's where-abouts on the eve of the primaries, SOME AMERICANS WE ARE. NICE ONE PEOPLE... Mitt hasn't turned me off at all, just proven to me to be the most rational and level-headed.

    ROMNEY FOR '08

    January 2, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  9. Peter

    Please read on for the most boring, non-scandalous post ever...

    Romney really is a man of integrity.

    Romney's leadership experience really has proven him to be incorruptible, principle-based, and effective.

    Romney's religion has bettered the lives of millions of adherents who are because of their membership (statistically speaking) healthier, happier, more racially tolerant, and more ardent followers of Christ.

    Romney doesn't impose his religion on others and respects all people whether they believe in God or not.

    Pointing out the factual differences between Romney's candidacy and other candidates is NOT negative campaigning.

    Romney is one of the few candidates with strong conservative credentials in the areas of social, economic, and foreign policy.

    No, I don't work for his campaign; I'm just tired of reading garbage postings from the misinformed who know who they are if they read this far.

    January 2, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  10. E

    "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)."

    Finally, someone with a brain.

    January 2, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  11. Juan , Jacksonville Florida

    Mitt will say anything to create a headline. he is the john kerry of the group. Everyone should know that fox and abc plan on not inviting ron paul to the debates. wow. so much for being a republic.

    January 2, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  12. Adam

    I dont think mitt is "ripping" on people like cnn is saying. mitt romney for the most part is just trying to distinguish himself. somehow thats "ripping" when mitt does it

    January 2, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  13. annette

    Maybe Huckabee is really auditioning for a Baptist televangelist. Huckabee is a religious bigot and a sick puppy and I don't fall for his "charming" talk.

    Mitt Romney 2008!

    January 2, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  14. Brian

    Good! I think it's nuts that Huck would rather be on the Leno show than win his nomination. He seems like he's just trying to be so nice, and trying to be so popular like this is some kind of high school game. Huck, if you can't hack it, chuch and huck should get the . . . . "fetch" out. Huck just wants to appeal to so many. I find it funny when people say that about Romney, when he's held a religion that so many find unflattering. You don't see him converting to another do you just to win votes! Romney is a clear leader and more than ever, we need help in the economy.

    January 2, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  15. Mary Ann

    Romney's running a mudslinging campaign; particularly targets Huckabee. Why? He knows he's no match for Huckabee, whose Christian principles are exactly what we need for the nation.

    Huckabee 08!

    January 2, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  16. JGonzo2

    Mitt will do anything to win. He lacks integrity or character. He thinks he can slam people and buy the lection with his personal wealth. Not in my America! He's desperate and it shows. I would elect him dog catcher!

    January 2, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  17. Cable King Pittsburgh PA

    The big "L" on Romney's forehead can now be seen from outer space.

    January 2, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  18. zebing

    Mitt Romney is the man who is fit to lead this country, and all of you haters out there are just a bunch of bigoted, Southerner cry babies who can't take the fact that he's a good man. He's not attacking on a personal level like the Huckster does. Romney is pointing out differences in policy and personal judgment. That's what belongs in politics, not personal attacks.

    For all you anti-mormon Southerners out there, I guess I'm not surprised that the racist south is also the same group of people that hate mormons. You people just never change.

    January 2, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  19. Peter

    More anti-Romney allegations with absolutely no substance. Critical thinking skills are hard to acquire, but I recommend them highly. Go to school. Make something of yourself. Live the American Dream. And try not to pull others down along the way...

    January 2, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  20. David ~ Austin, Texas

    A question. I keep reading these posts about how these different candidates are using "personal attacks". To me a "personal attack" would be if one candidate called the other stupid, or ugly. But there are also negative attacks, where one uses sarcasm, half-truths, or deception to score political points. I've seen both Romney and Huckabee use negative attacks, and I'm fairly certain that the Jesus & Satan brother comment would be construed as a personal attack (-1 to Huckabee), but what personal/negative attacks has John McCain used?

    Personally, I'm an Independent and currently I lean Democratic. The other post I see a lot is how Romney / Huckabee / Giuliani is the only Republican candidate that can beat the Democrats. For a moment let's not consider the how absurd it sounds to suggest that choosing a nominee based on their ability to beat the other side is the most important factor, and not what they would do once they had won said contest. Let’s just examine this statement logically. Our current President does not enjoy a popular approval rating, outside of his own political party (and he has his detractors there as well). Ergo, whoever wins the Republican nomination will be faced with an important choice. Do they campaign with the President? If they do, they risk being linked with a President whose current approval ratings are hovering around 35%. If they don't then they send the message that they don't want to be seen with a fellow Republican President, lending ammunition for the Democrats to use. It's a bad spot to be in, just ask Al Gore cir. 2000. In one way it will be worse, Bill Clinton left office with an approval rating of about 65%. There wasn't a war going on, the economy was booming, gas wasn't $3.00 a gallon, and the housing industry was growing, not imploding. Bottom line, the Republican nominee will face an uphill battle since many voters will be looking for "change".

    The one Republican candidate who could feasibly not fall victim to that is John McCain. He was and still is in favor of our involvement in Iraq (his son is in the Marines and is in Iraq), but he has also criticized the Administration for it's handling of it. He is aggressive on the war on terror, but has taken a firm stance on torture. He is a staunch Republican, but has a long history of working with Democrats. In essence, he can take the type of nuanced positions that make Mitt Romney or Hillary Clinton look like “flip-floppers” (which has somehow become a bad thing).

    If the most important factor in electing the Republican nominee is who can beat Hillary Clinton (or Barack Obama), then the race should already be decided. There is only one candidate who consistently wins the hypothetical match-ups in every poll, and that's John McCain. If John McCain wins, he pulls the Republican voters (because few on the right want to see President Hillary or President Obama), but he also pulls a lot of Independent voters. If McCain's the nominee, he gets my vote. And that's from a Democratic leaning Independent.

    January 2, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  21. Katy Hill Prescott Az.

    I think John McCain said all there is to say about Mitt Romney when he said
    If you fight with a PIG you both get dirty and the PIG likes it.

    January 2, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  22. Scott Perkins

    Mitt Romney is like George Bush on steriods. I hope people wake up to his plastic smile and empty promises. Since he's a neocon republican we can pretty safely predict that he doesn't stand a chance this time. Too many people have awakened to the damages caused by the Republicans. Generations may pass and a third party may take power before we as a country allow the republicans another chance.

    January 2, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  23. Leroy

    I'm supporting Mike Huckabee 100%. There is no other candidate that has the executive, credibility and communication skills that Mr. Huckabee possesses!

    Huckabee for President in 2008!

    January 2, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  24. echoscanr...vegas

    Mccain. Steeped in cronyism from charles keating to ted kennedy. a real opportuninst. An in ur face immigraion attorney. I remember when 20 plus million was 6. he's still playing that " trust me" card all open borders pro's carry.

    Huckster. A real hustler, reminds me of the guy hanging around the pool hall all day n night. a player who'll say anything to any camera.

    I'll take mitt's resume over john's or huck's anyday, not withstanding foreign affairs on johns behalf.

    John played his "trust me" cards some 20 years ago and look what its gotten
    us and Huckster .. well,, he still looking for that unsuspecting crowd to hustle, better watch out iowa.. here come the player..

    January 2, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  25. R West

    I guess Mr. Romney has forgotten the words "red eye flights".....

    January 2, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7