WASHINGTON (CNN) – An old rivalry flared up again at the annual Values Voter Summit on Friday, when Mike Huckabee took aim at the health care system in Massachusetts that was implemented in 2006 by then-Gov. Mitt Romney.
Huckabee - who did serious damage to Romney's presidential hopes last January by winning the Iowa caucuses and has made clear his disdain for the former Massachusetts governor - told the crowd at the conservative conference that the Bay State health care system is a model for the kind of government-run health care President Obama wants to implement.
"It's going to bankrupt their entire budget," Huckabee said of the Massachusetts system, which requires residents to purchase health care or risk tax penalties. "In fact, the only thing inexpensive about Massachusetts health care bill is that there you can get a $50 abortion."
"Frankly if that's where we're headed with the public option and government run health care, thank you but no thank you, our wallets and our babies will be better off without it," Huckabee said.
Romney's spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom quickly shot back, calling the claims "not true."
"The cost of our health reforms is roughly 1.5 percent of $27 billion state budget, hardly a budget buster," Fehrnstrom said. He said the health care law doesn't mention abortion, "but court precedents in Massachusetts require government-subsidized plans to offer it."
Ferhnstrom also argued that the Massachusetts law proves that health care can be fixed without a government intrusion.
"The lesson from the Massachusetts experience is that you don't need to create a new government insurance option to get more people covered," he said. "What Governor Romney did was to strengthen our private market system."
Both Huckabee and Romney are considering repeat presidential bids in 2012.
But Huckabee isn't the only potential GOP contender to criticize "Romneycare" - in July, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty made a series of critical statements about the system, saying that costs turned out to be higher than expected, resulting in higher taxes and fees.