December 31st, 2007
04:45 PM ET
15 years ago

Huckabee makes, pulls, shows attack ad

Huckabee has decided not to air a negative campaign ad targeting Romney.

Huckabee has decided not to air a negative campaign ad targeting Romney."

DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) ­ - In a move that surprised even members of his own staff, Mike Huckabee told reporters gathered to see the debut of an Iowa ad attacking his competitor Mitt Romney that he was pulling the spot before it

After making the announcement, the Republican presidential candidate still showed reporters the ad, which targeted the former Massachusetts governor's record on such issues as taxes, gun control, and abortion.

Romney has already run several Iowa television spots criticizing Huckabee on issues including state spending, immigration, and clemency.

Recent polls show the two neck-and-neck for the lead among registered Republicans in the state, which holds its caucuses Thursday.

At the news conference Monday, the former Arkansas governor said he created the spot to attack Romney because "conventional political wisdom is that when you're hit, and it's beginning to do damage, the smart play is to hit back. And frankly every bit of advice I was getting said that was exactly what we were supposed to do."

But he said that shortly before the press conference, he called his staff and told them he wanted it pulled.
"I just decided that's not the way we want to run it," the former pastor said. "It's never too late to do the right thing."

Huckabee acknowledged that he expected "cynicism" from those who believe that by showing the ad at the news conference he was still launching the attack. But Huckabee said if he had not shown the ad, he expected reporters would have asked to see it.

If the ad ends up airing on Iowa TV stations, it will be because the stations have not yet had a chance to replace it in their schedules, Huckabee said.

Des Moines station KCCI told CNN it had been told this morning to run the ad - then contacted shortly afterwards by the campaign to cancel the original order.

“There had been a discussion about the strategy, a very lively discussion,” a top aide to the Mike Huckabee campaign said after his surreal press conference this afternoon.

Charmaine Yoest told reporters that the debate about running a negative ad against top rival Mitt Romney was strongest “particularly within the [Huckabee] family.”

“The governor has never in his political career run a negative ad. So there was real tension here, and we do feel strongly that his record has been distorted and so the plan was to make sure the record was cleared up,” Yoest added.

Skeptical reporters questioned Yoest about when staffers were notified of the change in strategy and whether the campaign ever truly intended to air the ad, but she refused to give any details except for declaring, “I’ve got a box of dvds and we’re not going to pass them out.”

“At the end of the day the Governor’s the one who makes the decisions about how he wants to run the campaign,” Yoest said.

- CNN's Dana Bash, Chris Welch and Evan Glass contributed to this report

Filed under: Iowa • Mike Huckabee • Mitt Romney
soundoff (127 Responses)
  1. Luis

    Is the HuckaBust campaign getting an assist from Karl Rove??

    Sure sounds like a ploy out of the Rove playbook.......

    Make the tape, hold a conference to tell people you are not running any
    negative adds, then show the tape anyway to a room full of reporters??

    HuckaBust is either getting a sleazy Rove assist,
    or hes running out of money and using the media
    to help "dish" his dirt for free?

    December 31, 2007 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  2. Paul

    The venom being shown here is the direct result of decades of nasty and negative politics and the country is being ripped apart by it. Does the fact that negative ads do indeed work make anyone here REALLY feel good?....does it inspire hope?

    Alot of Americans are getting extremely tired of this kind of hatred being thrown in every direction, and the unity that we experienced on 911 was even more fleeting than many feared it would be.

    Candidate differences on issues can be drawn from debates and by researching their position papers, and it does us no good to discuss them in a disrespectful manner.

    If we stay on this course.....then America is on its descent. Remember, Islamic extremists and our other adversaries have a deep reservoir of patience, and anything that divides us like the disrespect being rolled out here plays right into their hands.....and this discussion is a study in bitter division.

    December 31, 2007 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  3. Janel, St. Paul, MN

    I could perhaps have had some respect for Huckabee until he just had to show the reporters what a "good guy" he was, but wanted them to see his horrible ad. Is this the Christian thing to do?????

    Shame on you Huckabee for being such a hypocrite!

    Go Obama!

    December 31, 2007 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  4. Jon Sanderson


    Someone above actually wrote this: "Even though I am not a Huckabee fan, pulling the ad was the right thing to do. Unlike Romney, he isn't running a negative, smear campaign against his rivals.Kudos to Huckabee and shame on Romney."


    This guy just keeps getting slimier and slimier, hitting Romney below the belt at every turn and then playing innocent, as if he is above the political game. NEWFLASH FOR YOU HUCK: WE'RE ONTO YOUR TRICKS!

    Can anyone ever imagine Romney pulling a dirty stunt like this? It would NEVER happen. Romney's criticicism of his opponents is based on their RECORD and doesn't stoop to name calling and character attacks.


    December 31, 2007 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  5. marie thomson

    Want to know why Huckabee cannot win the Presidency in '08? He shouldn't have attacked Mormons. With 5+ Million in the US concentrated in the Western States where elections will be VERY close, Mormons hold the trump card and they will not vote for Huckabee after his nasty anti-Mormon, and anti-Catholic (Brownback) campaigns in Iowa and now this expensive fake Christmas Card in South Carolina Pretending to be from Mitt.

    Check out to see why Huckabee is toast even if he should get the nomination. MORMONS WILL NOT VOTE FOR HIM and they have been the most reliably conservative Republican block and are needed to win crucial states. Check it out

    January 1, 2008 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  6. Marco

    I think Ron Paul will win the Republican presidential nomination. After that it should be no problem to win the predidency. (

    January 1, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  7. John

    Did anyone see the full ad? It made Huck look unflattering.

    Lets face it, Huck had blown any positive image he enjoyed.

    January 1, 2008 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  8. Cindy

    IT'S ROMNEY ALL THE WAY TO THE WHITE HOUSE!!! I've been so impressed by Romney's organization and his willingness to spend his OWN money to campaign! He's a man of great success, he's got a proven record of getting the job done!! I commute from the state of WA to the state of MA and have seen the great changes he's made in MA. over the years. As a business woman, I admire the way he does business and that is exactly what we need right now. He knows how to pick the right people in order to get the job done! Everyone in our entire organization is unanimously behind Romney for president!!! Even die hard Democrats have switched.

    January 1, 2008 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  9. Chris, Bethesda, Maryland

    "I could never air a negative add, but I'll show it to the media anyway?" Sounds like he's taking lessons from OJ Simpson. "If I really had been the murderer..."

    Seriously though, plenty of people will see this and think it's a sign of greatness on Huckabee's part. All the people hating on Huck above, I hear you, but don't sell the guy short. He's got as good a chance as any and better than most.

    January 1, 2008 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  10. Buhk

    All these guys do not represent the Republican party that I know and love. How did we become something so different from the party of Lincoln and Reagan? THOMPSON 08!!!!

    January 1, 2008 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  11. john halverson

    It is never too late to do the right thing. Now if you'll look over here, this is the ad that I am not going to show, please don't run it for free on your news channel, again I am not going to run this ad, can we play it again in case someone missed it. I am here to do the right thing. I really hope that nobody puts it on YOU TUBE wink wink. What a PUTZ! this guy is just like the Clintons! and I am sure that he had "nothing" to do with the push polling.

    January 1, 2008 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  12. Jay Bee, USA

    sam Khuri, you need to watch the news conferences that Huckabee gives. He can't afford attack ads, that's why he uses "attack press conferences". Even people working for him in Arkansas said he carried grudges against those that opposed him. What is the difference between attack ads and attack press conferences?

    Biggest difference: Romney attack ads based on articles with sources published comparing Huckabee's record, Huckabee attack press conferences are personal attacks against Romney. Huckabee is not a "nice" candidate.

    The cards are stacked against Huckabee – The conservative group, rates Huckabee number 6 on the list of the Top 10 Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians. The guy has some major problems.

    January 1, 2008 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  13. Richard, Ewing NJ

    I can completely understand why Huckabee is all upset about Romney. Romney is the first launched misleading negative. Yes, they are not right out lies, but they are very misleading. For example, Romney ads said Huckabee foreign policy is lacking and that Secretary Rice called his foreign policy ludicrous. Well, Condi Rice did not describe Huckabee's foreign policy as ludicrous. Rice was responding to one single aspect of Huckabee comment on Bush. Rice did not make any negative comment about Huckabee foreign policy. Romney ads also accuse McCain wants to give amnesty to all illegal immigrants. Completely misleading. The plan McCain supported will require the illegal immigrants go back to home country, pay a fine, and then they can reapply for legal immigration - that is not the definition of amnesty. When Huckabee hunts, he is not faking it. He has been a hunter and you can find old pictures of him hunting. Romney is the one being dishonest when he said he was a hunter. He hunted twice in his life and the first time is a BB gun and the last time was shooting rats. Romney of course also proclaim that he saw his father matched with MLK, which is completely false.

    By the way, I am not a Huckabee fan, but for the Mitt Romney supporters here... your candidate is the one misleading voters.

    January 1, 2008 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  14. Richard, Ewing NJ

    Jim Bethlehem , Pa,

    Let be honest and stop misleading people. Huckabee is not a neo-con, neither is Bush, Cheney nor Rumsfeld. If you do not know what a neo-con is maybe it is time to look it up. As for you accusation on Huckabee not believing evolution, that was very dishonest. He never said he does not believe in evolution. He said that he believe there is a creator and things do not merely happen by random chance. Please look up Huckabee answer on evolution on youtube if you have not. Many scientists believe that as well. Einstein is not a religious man at all, but he do believe there is a creator somewhere. In fact, one of the most quote Einstein made is that "God doesn't roll dice." Many other famous scientists believe there is a god or gods, but that does not make them anti-evolution.

    In fact, I am an atheist and I do not even agree with Einstein there is a God. However, your assertion that "If Huckabee believes in a God, then he must be anti-science" is completely baseless. Unless, you also believe Einstein is anti-science and so do most American scientists are anti-science. You do know most scientists are religious, right?

    January 1, 2008 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  15. Angela

    Huckabee is just kooky.

    January 1, 2008 02:58 am at 2:58 am |
  16. Lindy Adams

    In response to the first item posted above, Huckabee does have children. He has three children who are all grown.

    January 1, 2008 03:14 am at 3:14 am |
  17. Bryan P.

    We need to have a man leading this nation that represents CONVICTION not CONVENIENCE, when deciding on what guides them in life. Of course not only Abortion, but on other integrity issues. Especially with all of those recent horrible news reports (google search “abortion clinic problems”) that are talking about the disgusting things that are happening in abortion clinics, like DOCTORS’s not washing their hands all day while performing dozens of procedures and doctors making a living “selling 15 y.o.’s to go through with the operation” so the Doc can pay his mortgage. What happened to “Thou shalt not murder anyway”? Last week I had the honor of hearing Mr. Huckabee preach an amazing Christmas message at Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas. When I think of the United States of America's past God fearing presidents that have had the greatest positive historical impacts for not only our nation, but the nations of the world, names like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln come to mind. There is an abundance of literature preserved from these, and other founding fathers that REGULARY wrote about how GOD is the one that gave us this nation as a gift and that we are a nation built on biblical laws (Remember all of the 10 Commandments now being taken out of government buildings now because of the ACLU, people that hate morality, etc.). These men include other former great American presidents who wrote and spoke often and freely of God and our Christian heritage in America. Mike Huckabee is the first candidate in a long time that reminds me most of those great men who steered our nation through those trying times of the past. We are all Americans and Mr. Huckabee has promised to be the president of all the people of America, no matter what their faith, be it Islam, atheism, Hinduism, or any other belief system. He would respect everyone’s rights to practice their own beliefs, as every president should. President Mike Huckabee would make an incredible 44th President of the United States of America. May God’s protection fall upon this man as a servant of our great nation.

    January 1, 2008 04:30 am at 4:30 am |
  18. Randy

    Never mind the hypocrisy of showing the ad to the press at the press conference. What about holding the press conference in the first place? If he really wanted to take the high road, he would have just not run the ad and then not told anyone about it. Instead he called a press conference. Judging from the comments on this blog, it has definitely back-fired.

    January 1, 2008 04:46 am at 4:46 am |
  19. Lorax

    Huckabee has duped the press. He got the press to pay for airing his add content. He even duped the tax payers in Arkansas into financing his personal indulgences. There would be no surprise that he would do the same with our national treasure. Apparently he has even duped churches into actively engaging for his campaign. Any tax exempt organization that is using its coffers to finance or staff to campaign activity for a candidate must answer the law by having their exempt status pulled. There should not be a blind eye to this. By the way does anyone recall what is the definition of a con man is?

    January 1, 2008 04:48 am at 4:48 am |
  20. Lorax

    Any blogger that makes a death threat should be seriously checked out by the FBI. We don't need another dark day like we had with Bobby Kennedy.

    January 1, 2008 04:53 am at 4:53 am |
  21. Chris in Iraq

    HA! What kind of idiot does this guy think we are? If he made this decision 1 hour before the press conference, how in the world did he get the backdrop "enough is enough" designed and printed that soon. This was a set up from the beginning and he thinks we (the American people) are so stupid that we should believe him. If he lies about something as trivial as this, why should we believe he will not lie about everything else? If he doesn't have the backbone to just standup and run a negative ad, how in the world would he have the backbone to standup to polls or terrorist nations? The guy thinks we are buffoons and truly believes that he has fooled us.

    January 1, 2008 05:10 am at 5:10 am |
  22. Stan

    Huckabee has reached a new low as the official "snake in the grass" of this campaign. This is the second time that he has used a backhanded method of attacking others. Not to mention his "not attacking" others by attacking them for pointing out his record. Quite honestly if he is being misrepresented, simply make an add that says "so and so says this about me, actually it was this and I call on my opponent to correct this misrepresentation". That way he doesn't go on the attack, simply points out the mistake in the add and politely calls on his opponent to bring it up a notch. Instead he pulls on his past experience as a preacher to deal with someone who threatens his flock (income) "they are liars and deceivers, I am the only good one here; look, here is a video about how bad they are, but since I am so good you only get to watch it once". Seriously, can we get some candidates who don't have to resort to this to win it. It is sad to see Romney go onto any kind of a questionable attack, just because his opponents have is no reason that he should (thinking McCains 180 year old mother or Huckabee's "innocent" questioning of a reporter about Romney's religious beliefs. Which if these things were innocent it scares me to think that McCain and Huckabee have such little fore thought to not realize what would happen.

    Every time I watch or read about the presidential candidates I think of Dave Barry's book about the 2000 presidential election.

    As for Ron Paul, all I have got to say is "when did you become a nut bar"? Every fringe group is welcomed with open arms by Ron Paul because when your Ron Paul and 90 years old you are just glad that people are still visiting you and pretending to care about what you say even though in their minds they are already trying to decide what to do with their portion of the inheritance.

    Vote Arnold for President (hey, it worked in the Simpson's movie).

    January 1, 2008 05:17 am at 5:17 am |
  23. Andy Neilson

    Mike Hucked up again.

    I'm Mike Huckabee, and I disapprove this message.

    January 1, 2008 05:37 am at 5:37 am |
  24. Andy Neilson

    Looks like the press aren't the only ones laughing at Mike. In fairness to MIke, he might make an excellent member of Cabinet, but please, this is like a bad American Idol moment. His heart may be in the right place, but votes for Huckabee may only guarantee a Democratic victory. Help him off the stage.

    January 1, 2008 05:52 am at 5:52 am |
  25. Ralphie

    Huckabee is a great honest dude! I suppose you all are still accustomed to voting in crooks and dishonest people like Bush.

    January 1, 2008 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
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