January 2nd, 2008
02:20 PM ET
15 years ago

Romney rips Huckabee's Leno appearance

Mitt Romney and John McCain are battling for the lead in the Granite State.

Mitt Romney and John McCain are battling for the lead in the Granite State.

BETTENDORF, Iowa (CNN) –- Mitt Romney, who is spending the final day before the caucuses jetting around Iowa, is hitting rival Mike Huckabee for abandoning the Hawkeye State on caucus eve to make an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

"Well, frankly my focus is on the caucuses here in Iowa. I think Mike is more concerned about the caucus in Los Angeles," Romney told voters at Bettendorf Middle School. "So my focus is on getting folks out to vote in the caucus and connecting my message with the people of Iowa. I think that’s the right course for my campaign."

Romney also went out of his way in his opening comments to attack Sen. John McCain, who is campaigning in Iowa today after spending most of the week so far stumping in New Hampshire.

"Welcome to Iowa, senator," Romney said, before repeating his recent criticism of McCain's past opposition to President Bush's tax cuts and support for last summer's controversial immigration reform bill.

Asked if his criticisms of McCain were a kind of pre-emptive strike against his chief Granite State rival heading into the New Hampshire primary vote next week, the usually on-message Romney drew laughs from reporters with his response:

"Actually, I figured you guys would talk to me about Mike Huckabee, so I took the chance to talk to you about John McCain."

Update: Huckabee is also facing heat for likely having to cross the writers' picket line to appear on the show, though earlier Wednesday he told reporters he didn't believe he would have to cross the picket line.

“My understanding is that there was a special arrangement for the late night shows and the writers have made this agreement to let the late night shows come back on. So I don’t anticipate it’s a crossing of the picket line. I support the writers by the way, unequivocally. Absolutely."

In actuality, only David Letterman's show has reached an agreement. Huckabee's campaign says the candidate will still appear on the show.

- CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: Iowa • John McCain • Mike Huckabee • Mitt Romney
soundoff (170 Responses)
  1. geo


    January 2, 2008 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  2. Joelle Didelot, Milwaukee, WI

    To the extent that fantasy and pure idiocracy (i.e. religion) is allowed to influence, and in most cases, CONTROL the political process, we are all slaves to faith- based irrationality and superstition. Our founding fathers loved and embraced slavery, viewed women as little more than insignificant property, refused to let them vote and established the primacy of the MALE in all things; these are the underpinnings of our CHRISTIAN(?) country – that all men want to continue.
    These are what males refer to when they state that this is a nation FOUNDED ON CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES!

    Religion(s) have a totally undue influence upon American politics – and yet, they do not contribute a PENNY to the COFFERS of our NATION!

    It is time to stop the religious idiocy of promoting a Constitutional Amendment: banning: Flag burning, Gay-Marriage, and abortion – abortion has sort of been decided by the Supreme Court and the practice is ever-decreasing...

    It is time for a politician with "Intestinal Fortitude" to solve the Social Security CRISIS, Medicare and Medicaid issues, with a Constitutional Amendment taking away the Tax-exempt Status of ALL RELIGIONS and reap the TRILLIONS of dollars in TAXES from churches and, priests, etc., who CONTROL the politics of this great nation, but contribute not a PENNY to its COFFERS – I am not counting all the politicians who get rich catering to their superstitions...

    Someone needs to protect us from this INSANITY!

    IF you want to PLAY in POLITICS you have to PAY!

    January 2, 2008 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  3. Rebecca, Michigan

    Why does Huckabee always seem so uninformed? Who is advising this guy??

    January 2, 2008 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  4. Lee Stranahan

    MItt Romney has already appeared on Leno, a few months ago...

    January 2, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  5. Rebecca, Michigan

    Please don't judge Mormons on the things that Mitt Romney says, either good or bad. He is ONE Mormon, he doesn't represent us all.

    I really loved Mitt's speech on Faith in America. After the religion speech, I proudly had a Mitt for President sign on my front lawn - a bold move for my liberal neighborhood. Then one of my neighbors STOLE my sign. Nice. After a few weeks though I was glad it was stolen because Mitt kept sticking his foot in his mouth. My thieving neighbor deserves my thanks and saved me from removing it from my own front lawn.

    I still can't stand Huckabee and would prefer Mitt over him. I just wish Mitt would not have said he "saw his father" walk with MLK, Jr. Mormons believe in being honest and I feel like Mitt is misrepresenting us all.

    January 3, 2008 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  6. P Blum

    Hey all you uninformed posters out there. Mitt has ALREADY been on Leno. He did the Leno show a long time ago. He is where he is supposed to be tonight. Huckelberry is selfish and insensitive to cross that picket line. Not to mention just a total idiot. I was fence sitting between Mitt and Huck...made up my mind. Huckelberry has made enough stupid uninformed statements lately to really scare me.
    And those of you out there unwilling to vote for Mitt because of his faith, I encourage you do a little more research. The Mormons have it in their doctorine to support and defend the constitution of the United States. There is a lot of crazy stuff on the internet about the Mormons right now, and from what I have studied, 99.9 % of it is incorrect. The church is actually pretty cool with donations to other third world countries in the millions. They were one of the first groups on the scene with Katrina, and they teach their children respect for their elders, moral cleanliness and formal education. They set Monday night apart and call it Family Night, where they take turns giving lessons as a family about Christ, or just enjoy good clean family fun. These are all attributes that I wish more faiths focused on, instead of the KKK which was started by the Southern Babtists. Back when the LDS faith was welcoming Blacks into the fold (admittedly not offering the Priesthood until later) the Baptists were hanging members of the black community from trees, and raping their wives. That turns my stomach and I want no part of it. I would like to ask Huck where he was 40 years ago, and what he was doing to fight the injustice of the south and the black community.
    Go Mitt. I find it interesting that people say he is too polished. This is what we need people. Someone who is charismatic and well educated. At least we wouldn't need to worry about some of the gramatical boo-boos we have been embarrassed by with our current sterling scholar Bush.
    Wake up people. When this is all said and done.......I would much rather have someone of Mitt's integrity before the temper tantrums of Huck or Hillary.

    January 3, 2008 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  7. Z

    Romney is a phoney/sleazy used car salesman type and Huckelberry is a sleazy fairy tale salesman..They are both fighting for their "territory"..Both of them are users of people to get what they want.They are both as shallow as a kiddie pool.
    Not that Hillary or Edwards are any better, they are just the flip side of these two.
    None of the lot of them is fit to fart in the White House..In fact there isn't a cadidate in
    either party thats really worth anything...My vote..NONE OF THE ABOVE...

    January 3, 2008 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  8. E

    ""January 2, 2008 8:24 pm ET

    MITT for Mormons against HUCKABEE for Christians, another religious war!
    This time on American soil!"""

    Incorrect. Huckabee for Baptists and Mitt (and every other candidate) for becoming the president.

    January 3, 2008 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  9. ducdebrabant

    The writers have right on their side in the strike, and Huckabee should be ashamed of himself for crossing their picket line.

    January 3, 2008 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  10. Garry

    Many of these comments never cease to amaze me. More than half of all these comments are just Mormon hater lines over and over again. These people are taught buy their Ministers to hate from their earliest years in Sunday school and at home. It's too bad there are so many misunderstood issues. Wow I thought this was a campaign for the white house not a Mormon bashing session.

    I hope this causes a huge amount of interest then maybe people who want real answers can ask some one who really knows. Yeah! like maybe a Mormon! If you don’t really know any Mormons get to know some and then make a judgment. You don't have to join, can't we just be friends?

    It would be really nice to have someone lead this country that actually knows how to run a business. For all the doubters not everyone who runs a successful company is a success because they are dishonest. Talk to some who really knows an individual. Then decide.

    And PLEASE let’s stop all the anti Mormon hate mail and just stick to who you think would run this GREAT NATION best. Just vote your opinion and that will be great. Thank You

    January 3, 2008 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  11. Lynn

    First and foremost, Romney to me is just a Republican version of John Kerry. He spouts out what he thinks you want to here.

    I am a Democrat from Arkansas and never intended to support any campaign of Mike Huckabee. But I have to be honest in that he did his best to work with Dems in getting certain things done for the state. His tax increases were put to good use by improving the highway system that was ranking near or at the bottom in the entire US. He made some errors like the pardoning of the rapist Dumond but to his defense that case had fairness issues due to the victim being a relative of the sitting governor at the time. I believe that Dumond had more than served the average sentence for his crime.

    While he is not perfect, he is a much better choice than Romney. I do like McCain the best of any of the Republicans.

    January 3, 2008 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  12. jane

    I'm thankful that we have the RIGHT to check out the candidates and hopefully we won't only get one source to look at. How about get at least 3 sources for views of each-

    look at what they say about themselves and their issue stands,
    look at what they HAVE DONE ( their records & what they said to the news) and
    look at what an unbiased (if you can find one) source says-

    I liked that Rush has good things to say about Mormons on his web site. I hope people will not be moved by fear or hate (as these are not from God) (though sometimes the word in KJV is used to mean more like reverence/obey God, not fear (like be afraid of) God. How many times do we have the "fear not" messengers from God to man –of course that goes along with obeying the commandments and repenting too).

    It is a comfort to me that when we do the best we can, (which includes to study the records of the candidates etc and support what we find good) we can leave the rest to God. If people are worried about Mormons (from listening to hate/fear propaganda that maybe their pastor has bought into) they should checkout Mormon.org or LDS.org.

    Jesus said to love one another- he did not spread fear and hate. Look at the issues and yes, also pray about it –if that is your usual pattern to do when you need more wisdom - see James 1:5.

    January 3, 2008 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  13. colonelmark

    This is a meme that has been picked up by Romney blogger-bots: Oh, Romney just does truthful "contrast" ads! (They won't call them negative ads or attack ads)

    HOWEVER, Newsweek and FactCheck.org have exposed this farce:

    So, let's be honest, boys. Your man Mitt began the negative ad wars and continues to fund them out of his own deep pockets.

    Iowans don't need another attack ad in their mailboxes and don't need another smear ad on their local evening newscast, and that's why they'll reject Mitt Romney tonight.

    January 3, 2008 04:34 am at 4:34 am |
  14. Quinn, Kentucky

    I've been saying this from day one: Huckabee doesn't have a sliver of a chance of beating Hillary, Obama, or Edwards in the general election. He was the one that brought religion into the spotlight and I feel that it is going to be his downfall. His record shows as Gov. he was quiet liberal in his views. He has got one thing going for him: he is a good speaker and people like him. But he is not electable against any of the democrats.

    Huckabee is still playing the "Christian" card and it will be his downfall.

    MAKE YOUR VOTE COUNT! There are only two republicans that have a chance against the democrats in the general election: Romney or Giuliani.

    I like Thompson and McCain but they don't have enought support and McCain is a hot-head.

    ROMNEY and GIULIANI are the only republican nominees that have enough general support and organization that have any chance against today's anti-Bush voters.

    January 3, 2008 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  15. Cephas

    George Betros

    I must respectfully (and I mean this in the nicest way) invite you to get a clue.

    In case you haven't noticed, the "world" as you call it has started to wake up and come around to our way of thinging. I cite our recently improved relations with the Governments of Germany and France (of all places).

    Sir, I have spent the last 10 years living abroad. What electing "W" really did was put the world on notice that the U.S.A. was not going to quietly given into the wave of "global liberalism" infecting 90% of Europe and other nations.

    I really question your interpritation of how "bad" our reputation was anyway. A lot of Americans don't realize that while our "Boys" (and Women) were off fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, the GERMAN Army was providing security for our bases in Germany. So while the Germans were indeed taking the low road and publiclly denoucing our efforts, on the other hand they volunteered to back fill our guys so they could go and do the heavy lifting. I watched many times as these same German security guards, would halt traffic, quickly get in formation, snap to attention and salute every single time a hospital transport loaded with war injured troops was transported onto or off of Ramstein AB. So don't tell me we didn't earn the respect of Europe and world. You just don't know what you talking about.

    Additionally, I normally strongly discourage personal attacks on sitting Presidents (regardless of party), but I'll leave you alone on that for now and just share with you that I'd much rather have a REFORMED frat boy & drunk in the oval office any day compared to the previous: Unrepentant Dope Smoking, Flag Burning, Baby Killing, Military Hating, Womanizer or her husband (oops I mean wife) that we had in office before W.

    You are clueless as to "W's" IQ, he is no showman and not good on camera – I'll give you that, but you have no call to question the man's intellengence since you obviously are not aware of too much yourself. Secondly, the "ex-cookhead" charge is at best slanderous and also uncalled for. To my knowledge there is no real evidence of such activity, at any time.

    But while we are comparing mental and moral qualifications. Did you know that the predominate number of White House Cabinate appointees, during the Clinton I days, had to have presidential wavers for drug use or drug use convictions in order to obtain the necessary Security Clearances to do there jobs – shameful. This isn't the kind of people want in office again.

    Go MITT!

    January 3, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  16. Bill

    I'm really glad to see the hysteria by conservative media and talk-radio over Huckabee. As a conservative it's really opened my eyes to the bias that exist in these forums and to the fact that some (not all) of the NeoCon criticism from the left has some merit. What's really going on with Huckabee is that he is an outsider that is challenging the GOP establishment. Romney is such a fake, yet most of the talking heads for the right are shilling for him and attacking Huckabee.

    While Huckabee may not be a pure conservative according the self-proclaimed defenders of conservatism, if you compare him to the actual life and record of Ronald Reagan there are striking similarities. If Huckabee is not a conservative then neither was Ronald Reagan. The only conclusion left for true conservatives (i.e. as defined by Reagan himself) is to admit that there has been a Neo-Conservative swing within the GOP and the pundits on the right, so much so that a true conservative like Huckabee is now demonized and attacked.

    January 3, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  17. Chris S - Gerald, MO

    Rob January 2, 2008 7:34 pm ET

    "Unions will ruin this country."
    I cannot believe it, I actually agree with you on something....And I am a Dem.

    January 3, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  18. Richard, West Palm Beach, FL

    "In case you haven't noticed, the "world" as you call it has started to wake up and come around to our way of thinging. I cite our recently improved relations with the Governments of Germany and France (of all places)."


    In case you haven't noticed, support for Bush has apparently cost the jobs of his two most vocal supporters, Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia. There is no time that Bush can go to anywhere to visit our most loyal allies without being greeted by unprecedented protests, even in places like Canada. Contrast that with the crowds that greet Bill Clinton in nations that support us.

    It is with typical hypocrisy that Republicans ignor the diminishing support from the United Kingdom (as shown in elections and more and more troop reductions) and use France as an example of how well things are going. No doubt, this example is being cited by many of the same people who loudly condemned France for it's lack of supplying troops (still NO CHANGE), wanted boycotts of French food and products, and advocated 'FREEDOM FRIES". For Bush supporters, hypocrisy knows no bounds.

    January 3, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  19. Jason

    Well said, Bill. The conservative talk show hosts need to listen to what Huckabee is saying. If the republican party ignores the middle class in this election, they will lose the presidency for the next 20 years. I really believe that. We need to change the momentum that the democrats have right now, and I believe Huckabee is our only real chance to do that. Romney would lose in a land side.

    January 3, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  20. Susan Rogers

    I have one simple question to pose regarding Mike Huckabee's attacks on Mitt Romney's religion. How can anyone who does not fit into Huckabee's picture of a perfect Christian feel that they would have fair and unbiased representation in government if he was elected President?

    There are many points of consititional propriety that could be argued, but simply and to the point, it feels when he talks about "the people" he is only talking to and about Evangelical Christians. In reality this group is a small minority of today's American population, so again, I pose. How can anyone who does not fit into Huckabee's picture of the perfect Evangelical Christian point of view feel that they would have fair and unbiased representation in government if he was elected President?

    January 6, 2008 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
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