WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said Wednesday he's not trying to settle old scores with his onetime GOP rival Mitt Romney, despite sharply criticizing the former Massachusetts governor in a new book out earlier this week.
"I didn't dislike him," Huckabee told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in an interview on The Situation Room. "It was a matter of [Romney] taking positions on issues that he had never taken before and at the same time, he was bashing people like me who had been consistent in our own views."
Huckabee's book, released Tuesday, is exceedingly critical of several Republicans he says are partly to blame for the party's across-the-board losses on Election Day, including Romney and Fred Thompson - another former GOP presidential candidate.
In the book, Huckabee specifically takes aim at Romney for shifting positions on key conservative issues shortly before he decided to run for the White House, saying his record was "anything but conservative until he changed the light bulbs in his chandelier in time to run for president."
He also lashes out at Romney for what he said was the former governor's refusal to offer congratulations when Huckabee was the surprise winner of the crucial Iowa caucuses in January. Many political observers say it was that loss that ultimately derailed Romney's bid for the Oval office.
A spokesman for Romney called the comments "petty."
Huckabee also takes aim at Thompson in the new book, the former senator and television actor who jumped into the Republican presidential race significantly later than the other candidates.
"Fred Thompson never did grasp the dynamics of the race or the country, and his amazingly lackluster campaign reflected just how disconnected he was with the people, despite the anticipation and expectation that greeted his candidacy," Huckabee writes.
But in the interview with CNN, Huckabee said his comments in the book were part of a larger narrative calling for change in the leadership ranks of the Republican Party.
"This book is not about what's wrong with Mitt Romney or anybody else," he said. "I try to tell it in the narrative of the campaign. This book says if we're going to try to hit the reset party on the Republican Party, move forward, bring us back together and really become a majority party again...we'd better change things."
Huckabee, who is now the host of a weekly television program and set to begin a stint on the radio next year, appears to already be positioning himself for another presidential bid in 2012 and already has a trip to Iowa planned as part of his 56-city book tour.
But the former Arkansas governor dodged questions about whether he is interested in making another run for the White House.
"There's a part of me that wants to see some fundamental change. I may not be the one to lead it," he said.
In the wide-ranging interview, Huckabee also suggested he would have run a different general election campaign than John McCain, specifically when it came to the Arizona senator's support of the massive economic bailout bill in late September.
McCain now infamously suspended his campaign to return to Washington in hopes of shepherding through the $700 billion measure that the vast majority of conservatives opposed. The move appeared to upset many among the base of the Republican Party - a constituency that was already wary of the Arizona senator.
"The last things Republicans wanted our Republicans to do is to vote to give taxpayer money to private industry," Huckabee said. "That's the most un-Republican thing I've heard of in my life."
"It hurt McCain badly," Huckabee said of the then-Republican presidential candidate's support of the bill. "It was a matter of conscience for him but it was definitely a hurtful thing, particularly among Republicans."
Huckabee also said the Republican Party must ultimately return to its basic fundamental beliefs it hopes to be relevant again.
"We don't have any credibility if we say that we want to balance budgets and curtail spending and create these huge humongous deficits passed on to their grandchildren," he said.
"That's not only to me wrong, but it's irresponsible. Recklessly so."
I like Huckabee. I think he is entertaining and makes some good points.
Huckabee is absolutely right to make that claim. Romney played a dirtier campaign, and Huckabee played the right cards and attacked with a rightful purpose. It is NOT right to give our tax money to private corporations. That's not only Un-Republican, but it's Un-American as well.
I may be a Democrat, but I would love to see Huckabee take down Romney again. Huckabee was probably the only Republican Canidate to understand how America works as a whole, especially with the economic issues we face as of right now.
Oh gee, Huckabee's got a book coming out?? Oh gee, he might want to create a little media attention under the circumstances???
Huckabee was just too far to the "right" for me. I'm kind of a live & let live, middle of the road, common sense kind of gal.
Huckabee shows his true colors. He's like the rest of the neocon repups – He'll say and do anything to get elected and if he doesn't he'll smear and blame the other guy for his failure. Typical of the political evangelical hypocrites that run for public office.
"Huck the Hack'" in 2012 will guarantee the dems a win even if they run a door knob against him...
I hope he NEVER gets elected. I do not like the man and I vehemently reject his fusion of religion into politics. Want me to talk about Iran?
Huckabee.... Huckabee... Huckabee.... it's time to let it go brother. Let it all go. Move on with the rest of us, stop making a fool of yourself. It's NOT helping your stock value.
The GOP is officially IRRELAVENT.
What the Huck?
Of course he is, this guy is a big fat phoney.
While I believe that Huckabee would not be good for America, Mitt Romney deserves all the criticism he can get. He must have inside traded all his GM stock, and wants the big three to go under. The big three would not have to go begging to congress for money if the banks had not failed and now are not loaning money.
Huckabee is a nobody. Romney is so much more qualfied than him in every way...oh except blatant religious bigotry and small-mindedness.
of course you're not mr. huckabee???
Sure he isn't settling old scores.....He can't trust Mitt because to him Mitt is a Godless pagan and christians can't trust anyone who thinks and believes different than they do. Or should I say, christians can't trust anyone who thinks?
You go Huck! Too bad your book has already been published...
Otherwise you'd be able to include Romney pandering to the auto industry during the election.. and once his seat is secured, turning around and telling them they don't deserve any bailout.
Not that Romney's stance is necessarily wrong.. just that he wasn't man enough to tell the industry that while he was actually running.
Huckabee is just trying to make a buck off his "so exciting" non-campaign. The guy is a joke. He can't even forgive someone for perceived slights. Petty is right. His true colors are showing brightly.
Just go away... pls...
Can some please tell me why is Wolf Blitzer having all these goof heads like Huckabee,Romney and Guialini and still keeps asking if sarah npalin will be the future leader of the GOP.Wolf,take it from me--Sarah Palin is an extreme IDIOTso please move on.Sarah Palin will never be a President or a Vice President of the USA.
You're a loser and a hack. Please go away and leave the important work to people with IQs over 100. (In Mitt's case, well over 100.)
Well, he's just trying to raise some controversial issues to make the book sell...duhh. I'm not gonna buy it tho, not interested. When one of your core beliefs is that "separating Church and State is impossible"...ummm...makes me not interested in what else you have to say. Nice guy, tho, who should go back to work as a Reverend and leave politics.
Clairification = OOPS! My bad, but, the book has already gone to print!
What a joke the GOP have become! With the lies-hate-fear-and-division-mongers on the far-right, such as Palin, Limbaugh-the-comidian, Hater-Hannity, Bill-O the clown........ ITS no surprise that these loons lost!
I am enjoying the
SO amusing to see the back biting and knife fight going in among the GOP!
Once again the far-right prove how totally out of touch they are!
CNN Huckabee is what is wrong with not only the Republicans but what is wrong with our politics in general. We have had enough of hate fear and division in this country for too long now. We need to come together as a nation for the well being of us all and Huckabee's ideas are not the way.
Mr. Chucklby or Mr. Hickleby, take yourself back to Arkansas. Minister, my foot. Anyone who takes a job with Faux News is a hyprocrite. How can you justify what you do? Like Fox, Fair and Balanced.I don't think so. Like the money, don't you. What a crock you are.