December 15th, 2007
04:30 PM ET
13 years ago

Romney: Huckabee acts like a Dem, but we're 'great friends'

Romney is getting tough on Huckabee.

HUMBOLDT, Iowa (CNN) - Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney accused opponent Mike Huckabee Saturday of sounding like a Democrat when he criticized the Bush administration and its handling of the war in Iraq.

"I had to look again," the former Massachusetts governor said, referring to Huckabee's words in the January/February issue of 'Foreign Affairs.'

"Did this come from Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton? Did it come from John Edwards?"

"No, it was one of our own," Romney continued. "It was Governor Huckabee."

Romney was referring to an article written by Huckabee titled "America's Priorities in the War on Terror."

In the second paragraph, Huckabee writes, "American foreign policy needs to change its tone and attitude, open up, and reach out. The Bush administration's arrogant bunker mentality has been counterproductive at home and abroad."

"I cant believe he'd say that," Romney said. "I'm afraid he's running from the wrong party. The truth of the matter is this president has kept us safe these last six years."

While admitting the war has not gone "perfectly," Romney defended the president for a number of things that have gone well, including the collapse of Saddam Hussein. He went as far as thanking Bush for the Patriot Act and for making sure that when "Al Qaeda was calling someone was listening."

Romney also noted that the current surge of U.S. troops in Iraq is working.

Pressed by reporters after the event, Romney would not say whether or not he believes the war, on the whole, was managed well.

"There were a number of errors made," Romney said. "But its very different to point out that there are errors and mistakes than to say the Bush administration should be accused of an arrogant bunker mentality."

Just minutes after Romney's initial criticisms of his GOP rival, he told a questioner wanting to know more about the differences between him and Huckabee that the two men were "great friends."

UPDATE: Responding to Romney's attacks, Huckabee said, "I am disappointed by Governor Romney’s attempt to label me as a 'Democrat' because of my tough approach to foreign policy."

"Perhaps he should read the article in its entirety before making such ill-informed comments."

In a statement, a Huckabee spokeswoman called Romney's support of the current troop surge an example of flip-flopping, adding that earlier this year Romney "endorsed setting 'timetables and milestones' for Iraq policy."

- CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch

Filed under: Iowa • Mike Huckabee • Mitt Romney
soundoff (60 Responses)
  1. Eric - Miami, FL

    Mitt Romney states that he and Huckabee are "great friends", yet I have witnessed (first hand) the way his camp reacts when the two are scheduled to be in the same room together for a sound check... The Romney camp would not enter the room until they had confirmation that Huckabee had left. Does this sound like a "great friend?" I don't think so... take it for what it is.

    December 15, 2007 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  2. Steve Blaine Washington

    White people in the South vote Republican in Federal elections and Democratic in State elections. Anyone that has ever resided in the South is well aware of this fact. It's fact but the reason for it is idiotic.

    December 15, 2007 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  3. Val Davydov, Agawam, MA

    I had posted the following the other day on one of the threads, I am going to post it again (forgive me). After reading, please tell me if Huckabee is not running from the wrong party:

    "As governor of Arkansas, Huckabee dramatically increased state spending. During his two-term tenure, spending increased by more than 65 percent — at three times the rate of inflation.

    The number of government workers increased by 20 percent, and the state’s debt services increased by nearly $1 billion. Huckabee financed his spending binge with higher taxes. Under his leadership, the average Arkansan’s tax burden increased 47 percent, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, including increases in the state’s gas, sales, income, and cigarette taxes. He raised taxes on everything from groceries to nursing home beds.

    Huckabee answers these complaints by pointing out that he "cut taxes 94 times" while governor. True. But most of those tax cuts were tiny, like exempting residential lawn care from the sales tax. Some cuts reduced overall state revenues by as little as $15,000. On net, Huckabee increased state taxes by more than $500 million. In fact, Huckabee increased taxes in the state by more than Bill Clinton did.

    On its annual governor’s report card, Cato Institute gave Huckabee an "F" for fiscal policy during his final term, and an overall two-term grade of "D." Only four governors had worse scores, and 15 Democratic governors got higher grades, including well-known liberals like Ted Kulongoski of Oregon, Rod Blagojevich of Illinois, and Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania.

    But Huckabee doesn’t just embrace big government in the form of big taxes. He truly appears to believe that if something is a good idea it should be a federal government program.

    For example, having become health conscious while losing more than 120 pounds, he now calls for a national smoking ban. Because he believes that "art and music are as important as math and science" in public schools, he wants these programs funded — and thus, directed and administered — federally.

    Huckabee is, incidentally, the only Republican candidate for president who opposes school choice.

    He is the only Republican candidate who opposes President Bush’s veto of the Democrats’ proposed expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, and he is skeptical of most conservative proposals for entitlement reform.

    Calling himself "a different kind of Republican," Huckabee rails against high corporate profits and attacks free trade agreements. As governor, he raised the minimum wage and increased business regulation. He says it is "a biblical duty" to pass more regulation to fight global warming.

    Perhaps Huckabee’s only claim on conservative credentials is that as a former Baptist minister, he is more anti-abortion and anti-gay than the other candidates. In many ways, he has been running an overtly religion-based campaign. But even here, his preference is to increase and centralize federal government power.

    On election night in 2006, 55 percent of voters leaving the polls said they believed the Republican Party had become the party of big government. Mike Huckabee is doing his best to convert the other 45."

    December 15, 2007 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  4. Rebecca, St. Louis

    Ridiculous. It is a sad day for American politics when one must choose loyalty to a political party over speaking his conscience.

    December 15, 2007 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  5. Mike, CA

    Bad move on Romney's part. The type of people who still think Bush's war was a good idea (and are even more deluded as to think it is working) are the same people who will vote against Romney anyway because he's Mormon. All he's doing is alienating the people who might have voted for him.

    Not to mention this will come back to bite him hard in the general election if he wins the primaries. The surge working? Bush keeping us safe? It's like he's in some fantasy land.

    December 15, 2007 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  6. John Long, NY, NY

    I think someone should ask Romney about his churchs' view on blacks, which seem to be what no one is talking about. Before 1978, a black man could not even become a full member of the LDS church. I wonder how this man views, and will view other people of color should god forbid, he ever reach the post of President!

    December 16, 2007 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  7. Reality Check

    Romney is right...if it smells like a democrat, looks like a democrat and acts like a democrat then it must be a democrat.

    In response to Elizabeth in AZ, you really need to educate yourself about the electoral process. Here is a brief summary: the GOP nominates a republican and a democrat. Not two democrats. So, when a candidate is elected from the republican party, the base of voters want that candidate to represent them. See where I am going??? Huck obviously doesn't represent the base he is appealing to and needs to nominate him. How did you put it...that is right...why don't you leave the thinking to someone else. Zing!

    December 16, 2007 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  8. Johnny Smith, Brooklyn, NY

    All of the mainstream Republican candidates will say *anything* to get elected. They have no real stances on anything. To still be pretending like the war in Iraq is anything but an absolute failure is completely ridiculous.

    December 16, 2007 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  9. Steve, Lyons, CO

    Geez. A religious idiot like Huckabee, a complete liar like Romney (Bush admin NOT an arrogant bunker mentality?)
    Giuliani the thrice-married, hated by his own kids weenie who invokes 9-11 as if he did something more than allow the EPA to lie to citizens who breathed in the downtown air after the Twin Towers collapsed.
    John McCain, probably the most sober-minded fellow, has kissed so much Bush butt, and defended absolute meanness like vetoing children's health care, is but a shell of his former self, bendable to whatever political winds will have him – moderate in 2000, far right winger in 2007.

    Wow. The Democrats have elegance and intelligence in every one of their candidates. None of them is religiously crazed, none think Bush et al have done anything but a criminal, traitorous job screwing up this country.

    Nice contrast for the voters.

    December 16, 2007 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  10. Jonathan

    Westboro Baptist Church LOVES and hearts Huckabee!

    December 16, 2007 04:18 am at 4:18 am |
  11. jw, canadian,ok

    Who cares what party the Rev. Huckabee is in, any man who thinks the earth is only 6,000 years old needs to be in a home.

    December 16, 2007 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  12. WDRussell, East Liverpool, Ohio

    GOPers fighting about who can do the best job of sucking up to the American taliban.

    December 16, 2007 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  13. Mark Reynolds NH

    Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), involved in a suspicious real estate deal with an indicted political fundraiser, Antoin “Tony” Rezko. Obama also linked to an alleged influence peddling scandal and was nabbed conducting campaign business in his Senate office, a violation of federal law.


    December 16, 2007 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  14. Terry, El Paso, TX

    "The truth of the matter is this president has kept us safe these last six years" – Mitt Romney

    Since Bush became President, about 6500 Americans have been killed by terrorist actions or in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    "During that time more than 40,000 Americans have died from the use of aspirin, 175,000 from gunfire, 156,000 from automobile accidents, 510,000 from alcohol use, and 2,500,000 from tobacco use. Tobacco company executives have killed 350 times more Americans than Osama bin Laden and his friends."

    I am more worried about people who speed on the freeway than I am about terrorism, which ranks considerably below aspirin in terms of its threat to American lives.

    Bush has accomplished one of the longtime goals of Conservatives. He has bankrupted the federal government. Our government will not be able to properly address our needs and protect the country for decades, while we labor to work of the national debt. I suspect sometimes, in more paranoid moments, that the destruction of America's federal government was the real reason for the War in Iraq in the first place. I know that sounds paranoid (even to me) but some members of the Conservative leadership are very bright and very underhanded in their methods.

    December 16, 2007 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  15. sal lincoln nebraska

    Once again neither one of these two know anything about forgien policy...What are they supposed to say about each other anyhow, they have to say something to get there name into the news paper...Does Mitt Romney sound like a name you can trust? He should talk about ringing gongs with gold phallics and traveling to distant planets when you die...Huckabee says women should be slaves to their husbands because jesus says so...You dont even want to know what the mormons to too their women...I dont think jesus really said anything besides peace and love and lets get along everything else was made up by the catholic church they even admit it...So these two are completley lost in a mythical land of methaphor that they believe is reality

    December 16, 2007 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  16. Craig H, Mpls, MN

    Very slick critisim of Huckabee Mr. Romney. Two birds with one stone. You not only get a jab in on Huckabee but use the unstated/assumed assumption that just being a Dem/lib is an inherently bad thing to accomplish this. Romney's insulted Huckabee with a group attack on Dems therby injecting the subtext of "Dems are bad" into presidential political discourse. This sort of cheap, insulting politics is normally left to underling hitmen such as Rush, Hanity and Coulter. It belies despiration on Romney's part to sink to such cheap insults. This is the same sort of divisive politics that has torn this country apart. We need to deal with issues and not personal or group attacks. Americans are so tired ot it and the polls show it.

    December 16, 2007 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  17. Gregg Davis, El Paso TX

    Not only does Huckabee sound like a Dem, he is also attracting my vote if Obama is not nominated for the Democrats and he is nominated for the Republicans.

    December 16, 2007 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  18. roger, conway sc

    Please don't compare either one of these republican wackos(or any of the other republican candidates)to any democrat. As dems we may have our faults but the GOP is made up of nothing but corruption, hypocracy, & extremests VOTE DEMOCRATIC 08..

    December 16, 2007 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  19. Dale Davis, Glendora, California

    I just know that Huck will be able to use his knowledge of the Bible to become a basis of knowledge to construct an economic plan. It would definately be better than someone who has 2 degrees in both Harvard and BYU, in both business and law, with top honors in both, along with numerous successful business ventures.
    Afterall, Huckabee could hire the swift boat veteran guy to drive a swift boat to barter and sell Bibles to the Chinese, so that they won't just dump all of the trillions of dollars that they are thinking of dumping. And if they refuse, then another Huck supporter, Chuck Norris, could beat the excrement out of them to comply. This would be great. Then he could send some of those other supporters, like the old pro wrestlers, i.e. Ric Flair, to back him up. They could then sell cheese whiz in a can by the case loads, Red Man Chewing Tabacco, cloudy Arkansas diamonds, along with Nascar posters. Then we will be able to get more free trade and balance our trade deficit. This will definately get us out of our impending financial crisis next year. After all, the whole world will be charmed by Huck's "authenticity" of character that the common folk in Iowa and South Carolina are looking for. Well America, your finally waking up.

    December 16, 2007 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  20. Christine, Burke, VA

    Hey, "Reality Check":

    Check your own facts before correcting someone else's. You state the "GOP nominates a Republican and a Democrat. Not two Democrats."

    Uh, the last I knew, "GOP" stands for "Grand Old Party" - the Republican Party. They nominate one REPUBLICAN for president, one for vice president.

    We should require people to pass a civics exam before entering a voting booth in this country. The stupidity evident in the threads on this site continues to amaze me.

    December 16, 2007 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  21. Joey, Ketchikan, Alaska

    I am not criticizing Romney in accentuating his attitude to be that of the present President. Sounds familiar and we have to don our capes and start the same old fiasco again. If I am Bill Gates (sob) I will bet my trillions that Mitt Romney will never get elected, or even Rudy Giuliani.
    Hip Hip Hooray...

    December 16, 2007 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  22. Joey, Ketchikan, Alaska

    Who is Romney to judge Huckabee? He is just part of Bush trumpeters. Calling Lou Dobbs. Why don't we draft Huckabee as an independent candidate? Even if I am a Democrat, I'll change party sides if Huckabee will be the flag raiser for the Independents.
    Wanna bet Lou?

    December 16, 2007 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  23. Jason Stubbeman, Hoffman Estates, IL

    Wow, it sounds like Mitt values the Republican party over the United States, the Presidency, or good public/foreign policy. Do we really want another politician that treats the Presidency like an exclusive club, which excludes ideas different from his own? Personally, I value the right decisions for the American people over keeping promises to "special" groups or clubs.(Can be read as special interest groups if you like)

    December 16, 2007 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  24. Michael Allen Palm Beach Fl

    When Romney says that Huckabee is like a Democrat. Maybe he is refering to the fact that Hucabee is truly a man of the people. Not a multi billionair in bed with the big corporations. Restore true democracy in America where we believe that anyone can be President, not just the super rich and connected.

    December 16, 2007 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  25. Kenny, Danbury CT

    Hey John Long from NY, LEAVE RELIGION OUT OF IT. The only thing more alarming than your ignorance of the Mormon church is how much people like you insist on bringing religion into these political discussions.

    December 16, 2007 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
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