January 5th, 2008
10:00 PM ET
10 years ago

Huckabee, McCain go after Romney

McCain and Huckabee both have an interest in seeing Romney lose in New Hampshire Tuesday.

McCain and Huckabee both have an interest in seeing Romney lose in New Hampshire Tuesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republicans John McCain and Mike Huckabee seemed to be working off the same playbook at Saturday's presidential debate, each hitting rival Mitt Romney for changing his position on key issues.

"Which one?" Huckabee interjected when Romney asked that he not try to characterize his position on the Iraq war.

"We disagree on a lot of issues, but I agree you are the candidate of change," McCain told Romney later in the debate, after the former Massachusetts governor said he was best able to change Washington.

Meanwhile, Romney's presidential campaign sent out press releases shortly after the comments attempting to show that Huckabee has changed his position on the troop surge in Iraq, and McCain has changed his stance on an amnesty policy.

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: John McCain • Mike Huckabee • Mitt Romney
soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. Karen Sutherland, FL

    Saw this elsewhere:

    Huckabee=Liberal in Conservative clothing

    January 5, 2008 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  2. Richard, Ewing NJ

    Actually, Thompson and Guiliani also attacked Romney about his flip-flop.

    January 5, 2008 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  3. Leo

    I wasn't sure who I'd vote for in the Rep primaries until tonight, but now I've made up my mind. Romney was the most presidential candidate on the stage.

    I was considering Huckabee until he and McCain began the personal barbs aimed at Romney. I guess they figured that landing "zingers" is more important to Americans than substantive debate (which may be true, based on the polls). The hypocrite Huckster said just this week that his campaign would stay positive and not delve into personal attacks. (BTW, Huck…Romney's TV ads in Iowa included no personal attacks, just contrasts between your political records.) I lost all respect for Mike after tonight's showing.

    Well, I guess since our party put in a Southern candidate who's low on substance and had little understanding of foreign policy 8 years ago, they'll probably do it again by chosing Huck this year. If Edwards gets the nomination for the Dems, I'll switch over and vote for him.

    January 5, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  4. Matt, New York, New York

    John McCain does not stand for amnesty! Amnesty means the government willing harbour illegals, that is not Mccain's position. The 'attacks' on Romney were more just jokes and jabs against a failing candidate. The country needs strength and John McCain embodies a strong leader. He is the one to lead use into 2009 and fix the mistakes of the Bush administration.

    January 5, 2008 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  5. John, Concord, NH

    I was glad to see Romney flatter tonight. He's an okay candidate but he needs to step aside for the best man in the field- John McCain. Maybe Huckabee will be his vice president. Ron Paul did a good job, regardless of who wins he should have a place in the administration.

    January 5, 2008 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  6. Christine Grace, Overland Park Kansas

    i have to admit that mccain and huckabee were hilarious in their subtle jabs at romney's flip-flopping. but in all seriousness, i think they did an excellent job in pinpointing the inauthenticity of romney. romney did not perform well at all in the debate, especially regarding the immigration issue. and fred thompson needs to improve his speaking skills...while he was fine on law and order, i think he needs to speak a little quicker and less guttural.

    January 5, 2008 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  7. gander

    McCain, Huckabee, Thompson, and Guliani ALL put Romney in the same class as Ron Paul. Romney will never shake off that flip-flop image he put himself in....

    January 5, 2008 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  8. Fred, New Hampshire

    I'm an independent and I'm voting for John McCain. Ron Paul is a good choice but I'm not going to waste my vote.

    January 5, 2008 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  9. David T

    Hmmmm...seems a few folks are threatened by Mr. Romney. Huckabee and McCain know their weaknesses...so together, they make an interesting team against Romney...though I don't recall this being a team event at this stage in the 2008 elections. With the economy being a huge issue on the Republican and Democrat front, I don't see Huckabee or McCain as economic leaders or financial gurus. I'll keep watching...

    January 5, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  10. Al

    McCain is the only one who can win in Iraq. Support the war or not, victory is essential. A slow withdrawal will put the troops at risk. The fewer there are the more will be killed because they are vulnerable. The more killed the faster the democrats or traitor Ron Paul will pull them out. If we allow the Iraq war to fail, America will be in a very weakened position. With no strong presence in the near East, America will have zero influence to effect change in Israel, Arabia or Pakistan.

    John McCain in 2008!

    January 5, 2008 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  11. Bryan, Firestone, CO

    Romney handily won this debate. He was clear in his responses, and gave NH a chance to hear his positions that clearly set him apart as the undisputed leader in this race, and the only candidate that can effectively lead this nation. Romney is clearly the candidate that has a command of the issues, and the ability to fix them. McCain is a single-issue candidate. Thompson is in there just because he can't quit right now, but he will. Giuliani can't say anything other than "9/11". Huckabee has no place in this race.

    The gang-up by the other candidates only proves that Romney is clearly the leader, and the candidate that everyone else fears most. They absolutely fear him, and clearly they see Romney as the most well-rounded, qualified candidate. How could it be any other way? As Huckabee said in the past, why would you kick a dead horse? You don't, and Romney is clearly the winner here. Quite a compliment to him for them all to pile on. McCain's cheesy, devilish grin showed how much of a coward he really is...not even able to look Romney in the eye with his cheap shots. If you're such a man, McCain, stand up for yourself and look him in the eye. I'm looking forward to seeing Romney in the White House.

    January 5, 2008 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |

    Sounds like Romney is the only one wanting to discuss Issues. Do Mccain and Huckadean don't think the Democrats will bring the issues when they run against them? Better to have a fellow republican talk about the issues in a civil manner now to mute the point later. The stars are aligning for Rudy.

    January 5, 2008 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  13. Roy

    I thought the Republican debates tonight were interesting. Everyone talks about Romney and his "attack ads", yet I saw the others, who are "above negative campaigning" doing their negative campaigning in the debate tonight. It seems a little hypocritical.

    Huckabee's attacks seem to go unnoticed because he says them with a a sweet voice and a smile on his face. It appears to me that he pretends to be one person, yet is subtly acting like a completely different person.

    Sure Huckabee hasn't spent a lot of money on his campaign. He doesn't have to when the press shows his negative add, which he is "morally above putting on the air", yet it gets press in the national news. He is acting like a victim, yet is doing exactly what he is accusing Romney of doing.

    At least Romney has the guts to say that he approves of his actions. The others are trying to make us believe they don't approve of "negative campaigning", yet they still do it.

    January 5, 2008 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  14. Allyson

    I am an independent and I am curious. Why is it when Romney points out what he views as negative policies about his competitors, he is involved in dirty politics; but when they attack him personally and sarcastically on live TV it is somehow funny or O.K.? Please explain.

    January 5, 2008 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  15. Matt

    McCain reminded me of a playground bully tonight. Making personal attacks, then laughing out loud. Not very presidential. I wish these candidates could talk just about the issues and not try to twist and contort the truth by using blanket statements such as "flip-flopper". Generalizations are not going to help us decide. We need concise points on where candidates differ. McCain came across looking tactless and childish tonight.

    I also want the candidates to answer questions regarding the housing crisis and the upcoming recession.

    January 5, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  16. Karen Houston TX

    Both McCain and Huckabee are as big of flip floppers as Romney...Maybe worse.
    Huckabee is a contortionist when it comes to immigration! That is only one issue.

    Mc Cain is a drama queen constantly relying on his history as a war hero to create a dust cloud to cover his political record. He is constantly attacking Romney on flip flopping, but he can't discuss immigration and tax cuts.

    As soon as these two clowns knock Romney out of the race, they will turn on each other like rabid dogs!

    January 6, 2008 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  17. Allan Wynne

    Great to see Wyoming vote on the issues and qualifications needed to serve effectively as President! Congrats to Wyoming, Congrat to Romney!

    January 6, 2008 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  18. Christopher Reid

    I found the comments of McCain, Huckabee, and Thompson very childish. The jabs that these individuals gave out tonight showed their immaturity. Fred Thompson treated Ron Paul inappropriately during there dialog and I am not a Ron Paul supporter. The only thing Fred Thompson did was made himself look like a jerk. This PRESIDENTIAL election does not need bullies making fun and belittling another candidate and that is what Thompson did. Now McCain and Huckabee made fools of themselves tonight. The attacks on Romney did nothing for McCain and Huckabee but, make them look petty and desperate. If the attack ads that Romney had were false, then McCain and Huckabee should have spent time addressing those issue and not throwing cheap shots. Hey, McCain, Huckabee, and Thompson IT’S GROW UP DAY.

    January 6, 2008 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  19. Tom

    Did anyone else think the attacks on Mitt by Huckabee and especially McCain were childish and uncalled for. This totally turned me off from McCain–after calling Mitt's issue-based contrast ads bad attack ads, and then throwing the personal mud-he seems quite the hypocrite and very unpresidential.

    January 6, 2008 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  20. Marti San Diego, CA

    What a bunch of childish remarks!!! Goodness sakes! McCain and Huckabee, who have no record they're proud to talk about, were left to take immature personal swipes at Romney.

    Honestly, I am completely baffled that anyone can watch that debate tonight and not be (1) disgusted by the childish behavior of McCain and Huck (2) impressed by the composure of Romney under personal assault all night and (3) highly impressed by the clear, comprehensive, understandable, practical responses that Romney articulated on issue after issue.

    Can it be any clearer on health care? As Romney said, everyone else can talk and speculate about this plan or that plan, BUT HE HAS ALREADY DONE IT. He's *already* proven that he has the practical experience and the leadership ability to tackle and solve a large and complex problem.

    Just as he did with health care, he applied the same cadre of business experience and leadership ability to close the budget deficit in MA without raising taxes (something Huck wouldn't even dream of). He applied the same experience and leadership to turn around the financially distressed SLC Olympics.

    Wake up people! Please, please be honest with yourself and get past this issue of his religion. Get past these false charges of flip-flopping. Get past these false charges of his "attack ads". Contrast pieces are not attacks. If anything, they're free advertising for the other candidate if that person is proud of their record. Get past all that junk and recognize the incredible talent that Mitt will bring to Washington.


    January 6, 2008 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  21. Garrett, Provo, UT

    John McCain may be a war hero, but he is a jerk and a hypocrite. First, he gets on Romney for airing ads that contrast their positions. Isn't that what a primary is about; contrasting the positions between candidates to see what the voters want? Then he runs his own attack ads, but instead of criticizing Romney's record and contrasting it with his own, which would be fine, he attacks Romney personally. Talk about a hypocrite. And just because McCain is a war hero doesn't mean that he is ethical, honest, or smart. What McCain has demonstrated is that he is a hypocritical jerk. I hope that the good people of New Hampshire see through John McCain and vote for Rudy, Mitt, Fred or even Paul. Anyone but McCain and HuckaBigot.

    January 6, 2008 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  22. bettyc, Havre de Grace, MD

    It is such a shame that we cannot hear a straight discussion of the issues without a disgruntled pair like Huckabee and McCain, neither of whom is without problems, interjecting negativism. Inexperienced and confused Huckabee and old and corrupted McCain should try to improve truth being told instead of spinning to hurt someone. I want to hear what Romney has to say. It makes me angry; when other make a serious effort to subvert my ability to hear the participants.. However, I guess it really doesn't matter when Diebold has the last word.

    January 6, 2008 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  23. Bob Lancaster, CA

    The picture of Grandpa and his son Goober Pyle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Goober_01.jpg) is priceless. I suppose Goober is getting boxing lessons from the person on the right; and Grandpa McCain is thinking to himself "don't fall and break my hip, don't fall and break my hip...". Stop inflating the competition CNN and start reporting it accurately. Ron Paul is winning it all!!!!! Ron Paul for Presidente' of Mejixo.

    January 6, 2008 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  24. James

    After tonight I am even MORE PROUD to be a Romney supporter. McCain and Huckabee showed thier true colors tonight with thier personal attackes on Romney. Romney has never and will never personally attack any canidiate he only points out where his views are different from thiers.

    Shame on Huckabee and McCain!!

    January 6, 2008 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  25. Shawn

    McCain's comments and approach were tasteless. He seemed like a schoolyard bully, after repeated attempts to get him to lay off and focus on the issues. I lost a lot of respect that I had for McCain. Romney was under attack yet still seemed to have the best ideas He handled himself well. I just saw that Romney won Wyoming. Romney is the real deal.

    January 6, 2008 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
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