(CNN) – Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee blasted Sen. Ben Nelson in his own backyard over the Nebraska Democrat's decision Saturday to provide the key 60th vote to advance the party's health care reform bill.
In a fiery speech Sunday at an Omaha rally sponsored by Americans for Prosperity of Nebraska - a group opposed to Democratic efforts at health care reform - Huckabee said it is "historic and unprecedented that we are now bribing public officials openly - now we openly bribe them with $300 million at a time and tell them this is what your vote is worth."
The final Democratic holdout, Nelson agreed to back the measure following 13 hours of negotiations during which he won a commitment from the federal government to fund entirely his state's Medicaid population beyond the three years of funding granted to all states by the bill.
Republicans were quick to question Nelson's motivations for backing the bill, dubbing his alleged deal making the "cornhusker kickback," and claiming Nelson's provision has increased the burden on the 49 other states.
"That puts an added burden on all the other states, including mine," Sen. John McCain said "Fox News Sunday."
In an interview with CNN, Nelson said he did not seek any special favors but rather voted for the bill because of an added amendment allowing states to opt out of providing abortion coverage - a provision conservatives say falls far short of the blanket prohibition Nelson originally sought.
"I didn't ask for a special favor here. I didn't ask for a carve-out," Nelson told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. "What I said is the governor of Nebraska has contacted me, he said publicly he's having trouble with the budget. This will add to his budget woes. And I said, look, we have to have that fixed."
But during his comments at the Omaha rally, Huckabee - a 2008 presidential candidate and potential White House hopeful in 2012 - likened Nelson's deal to the biblical story in which Judas agreed to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
"I don't want [senators] to go up there…and then somehow go back and boast, 'Here's some money that I got for you.' The last time we saw that kind of historic moment it was 30 pieces of silver and that didn't work out too well for us either," Huckabee said.