Romney is launching a new ad in Iowa attacking Huckabee's immigration stances.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee found himself under fire from rival Republicans Monday, in the wake of a weekend of new polls that showed the former Arkansas governor surging in early primary states.
Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson’s campaign kept up a steady stream of attack, criticizing Huckabee for everything from past support for ending the Cuban embargo to allegedly allowing state hard drives and servers to be destroyed while he was governor.
And CNN’s John King reports that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign announced that it plans to run a television ad in Iowa that targets Huckabee’s record on illegal immigration. The spot, which attacks him by name, hits the airwaves Tuesday.
“The Record” compares the candidates’ conservative stands on social issues, but draws a sharp contrast on their track records on immigration policy: “Mitt Romney stood up, and vetoed in-state tuition for illegal aliens…opposed driver’s licenses for illegals,” says the announcer. “Mike Huckabee? Supported in-state tuition benefits for illegal immigrants. Huckabee even supported taxpayer-funded scholarships for illegal aliens.
“On immigration, the choice matters.”
Romney spokesman Kevin Madden said the ad was intended to highlight the difference between the former Massachusetts governor’s “pro-enforcement record” – under assault after recent revelations that he employed illegal immigrants on his property – and Huckabee’s somewhat softer stance in the past.
Surveys have found that illegal immigration consistently ranks as one of the most important issues among likely Republican voters in Iowa.
The new ad follows a Huckabee spot running in Iowa in which he highlights his new get-tough plan on illegal immigration. In "Secure Our Borders," Huckabee calls for "no amnesty" and says, "It ought to be at least as difficult to get across an international border as it is to get on an airplane in our own hometown."
–CNN's John King, Alexander Mooney and Rebecca Sinderbrand