January 28th, 2008
09:01 AM ET
10 years ago

Huckabee challenges Romney over fried chicken

 Romney stopped in at a KFC over the weekend.

Romney stopped in at a KFC over the weekend.

PENSACOLA, Florida (CNN) - Mitt Romney's failure to eat fried chicken with the skin on is nothing short of blasphemy here in the South, according to GOP rival Mike Huckabee.

Romney, of Massachusetts, dug into a piece fried chicken at KFC while campaigning in Lutz, Florida on Saturday, but not before peeling off what most would consider the best part - the crispy skin.

Admittedly, KFC's chicken doesn't exactly stack up against the delectable kind that comes out of deep fryers in kitchens around the South, and Romney said he was looking for the healthiest option available to him for lunch.

Huckabee, looking ahead to a flotilla of southern states up for grabs on Super Tuesday, was told about the move by a reporter here in the Florida panhandle.

"I can tell you this," he said, "any Southerner knows if you don’t eat the skin don’t bother calling it fried chicken."

"So that's good. I'm glad that he did that, because that means I'm going to win Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma ... all these great Southern states that understand the best part of fried chicken is the skin, if you're going to eat it that way."

Huckabee admitted that he hasn't eaten fried chicken in a while because of his weight loss program, preferring it broiled or baked instead.

And speaking of possible gaffes, a good Southerner might also dispute one of Huckabee's claims: since when is Oklahoma "a great southern state"?

- CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: Mike Huckabee • Mitt Romney
soundoff (226 Responses)
  1. Washington

    "At least Huckabe doesn't take himself so seriously"

    Well, I guess the rest of us shouldn't either. I can't believe how many people want to judge their next president on how folksy they are. I don't want the guy to be my friend, I want him to run the country, lower my taxes, and build our military. He can be as stiff as he likes as long as he has the resume and the experience of getting the job done.

    In fact, I've found overly friendly and gregarious people tend to be pretty shallow. Great for friends, but no so much when it comes to being a leader. Romney's track record is impressive, even if he doesn't really cozy up well.

    January 28, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  2. Steven

    CNN you make me laugh when you report on this stuff. But I am serious I find it entertaining to hear people fightin over fried chicken

    January 28, 2008 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  3. Jose Card - Independent

    Hickabee likes to cook things up in deep oil.
    Is he making a fool of himself, knowing that he won't make it?

    January 29, 2008 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  4. Matt Dawson

    I thought the state meal of OK included chicken fried steak? Close enough in my book.

    January 29, 2008 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  5. paulman

    HE'S KIDDING, ok? It's hard to tell from the way the story is written, but it sounds like Huckabee is just kidding along with what the reporter brought up.

    So, in summary: HE'S KIDDING.

    January 29, 2008 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  6. Lori

    Surely you, the press, have better things you can cover about Huckabee's campaign than a remark that was obviously intended to be humorous, but deliberately taken out of context. It is a real shame when one of the top contenders is whole-sale ignored by the press except when he makes quips like these. What a thinly disguised campaign the press is leading against him.

    January 29, 2008 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  7. Frank

    Hey Peter, have you ever been to Oklahoma? Or do you rely on Wikipedia and your own preconceived notions about Oklahoma to write your stories? I can't stand Mike Huckabee, but at least he actually knows my state.

    January 29, 2008 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  8. RSB

    People talk about Huckabee and Arkansas like it's backward or stupid thats not so, the thing with Romney I dislike is his Negative Ads, he's to critical of McCain and Huckabee, he needs to be pulling the GOP together putting out Positive Actions instead of Negative stuff thats a turn off for me, he needs to go after Obama and "the Clintons", Huckabee needs to Think about what he's saying so he doesn't look like a Country Bumpken, and the reporters don't turn it into something out of context, they treat John Edwards basically the same way as Huckabee

    January 29, 2008 03:19 am at 3:19 am |
  9. rudy W

    This is taken out of context. Come on CNN.....

    January 29, 2008 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  10. Iludiran

    Chicken! Is iit really chicken? There is a need for change but one begins to wonder, what that change will be.

    January 29, 2008 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  11. Michael

    Hmm...Huckabee seems really desperate for dirt against Romney... Doesn't he have anything of substance other than eating habits and the infamous "flipflopping"?

    January 29, 2008 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  12. Stephen

    I don't think for a minute that what you eat will win or lose an election. However Huckabee is the most Southern of the choices and that will win him over in the deep south. He might not take Florida, but Florida is full of snow-birds that will go with Mitt. In the other Southern states, Huckabee all the way.

    January 29, 2008 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  13. AJ

    Add some watermelon and this could be an Obama hoedown!

    January 29, 2008 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  14. Attacks by the Establishment on Ron Paul Continue

    Ron Paul / Huckabee ticket could be possible?

    Ron Paul / Edwards ticket could be possible?

    Matter of fact Ron Paul goes well with most people willing to defend the original Constitution!

    January 29, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  15. Peter

    I kind of like it, David, when the media exposes Huckabee for the desperate, jealous candidate that he is. I think his mean-spirited 'joking around' hurt him. Romney so far has played by the rules and sticks to the issues as he should... If Romney behaved like Huckabee – I would not vote for him.

    Huckabee lost my vote a long time ago.

    Vote for Romney !!

    January 29, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  16. HeyHeyHey

    I think someone needs to give the Huckster a sit-com. Isn't he auditioning for a stand-up role, rather than running for President? Why does he need to keep making jokes about everything? I don't want my President laughing and telling jokes, thank you. Get serious, you fried-squirrel-eating hick.

    January 29, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  17. shan davis

    It's great to know that Huckleberry thinks the southern states are so ingnorant that their vote is based purely on how Mitt eats chicken. Huckabee's comment, whether a joke or not, shows how much of an imbecile he truly is. THANKS Iowa for wasting your votes on this bonehead. Perhaps Iowa should adopt fried chicken as its state bird.

    January 29, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  18. nikolai

    Good thing Huck is sticking with the important issues!

    January 29, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  19. Schnarfe

    Latest news from the GOP CIRCUS!

    Ron Paul is such a clown. He cares about such trivial issues as war, foreign policy, taxation, the economy. What kind of unelectable nut talks about such trivialities as the disasterous war of conquest in Iraq or the impending war in Iran? Not to mention taxes, as if Americans care how much money they pay to the federal government. What kind of fool critically examines American foreign policy or would dare? Only a lunatic would dare question the Keynesian policy that Americans followed dogmatically since FDR. Ron Paul may be right or wrong but at least he brings up these issues for discussion. And the media ignores him for it. The corporate media refuses to acknowledge that Ron Paul exists except when they have the opportunity to libel him.

    But the media will hurry to report on the most trivial and stupid banalities if it involves anyone-but-Paul. Huckabee says that Mitt is not a real Southerner because he does not eat the skin! Apparently KFC is an urgent issue...

    January 29, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  20. SOUTHwestern

    The chicken bit is funny. As a native Okie, WE ARE NOT AT ALL MIDWESTERN!!! Huckabee will take the Oklahoma primary, and to the Yankee Texan, see you at the Cotton Bowl, Bubba.

    January 29, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  21. Dixie

    So does Huckabee leave the skin on his fried squirrel?

    January 30, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  22. Freebird

    Fried, baked, grilled, broiled, barbequed… it's all good. Here’s a twist on traditional skillet fried chicken of the ‘hot and spicy’ variety…

    1. Rinse pieces (with the skin left on for goodness sake!) in cold water and drain.
    2. Marinate as long as you like in buttermilk.
    3. Lift from buttermilk dripping wet and dredge through crushed ‘hot and spicy’ kettle-cooked potato chips.
    4. Pan or skillet fry as usual.
    5. Enjoy!

    Vote Ron Paul in 2008!

    January 30, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  23. Kelly Handy

    hahaha! i love it! huckabee is so downhome & i love every single morsel of it... he just really seems the most approachable out of all of the candidates (including democrats) & i believe that that's important when thinking about who you want as president: someone that is untouchable on their high horse or someone that you could imagine sitting on the porch and drinking lemonade together...

    February 1, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  24. afisher, Midlothian, VA

    Every conservative evangelical . . . should read Arkansas writer David Sanders' Wall Street Journal piece on Governor Huckabee. He writes - with ample proof - that "no one has articulated the message of the religious left more effectively than Mr. Huckabee." And Sanders knows what he's talking about - he used to work for Governor Huckabee.

    But one wonders whether his newfound supporters would really say that if they took a close look at his policies. With increasing frequency, Mr. Huckabee invokes his faith when advocating greater government involvement in just about every aspect of American life. In doing so, Mr. Huckabee has actually answered the prayers of the religious left.

    There's much more to being a conservative than social issues. Take it from one of his former aides: Governor Huckabee ain't got it. And combining him with the liberal Democrats and spend-happy Republicans who run Congress will not produce good results - no matter how much we may like where he goes to church. evangelicalsformitt

    February 2, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  25. Linda

    I can't believe Mike Huckabee can even call himself a Christian, after the horrible comments he made tonight (Feb. 5, 2008) Talk about a hypocrite! Shame on you and your dirty politics.

    February 6, 2008 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
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