November 19th, 2008
06:24 PM ET
13 years ago

Huckabee: Not settling old scores

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Huckabee appeared on The Situation Room Monday."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said Wednesday he's not trying to settle old scores with his onetime GOP rival Mitt Romney, despite sharply criticizing the former Massachusetts governor in a new book out earlier this week.

"I didn't dislike him," Huckabee told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in an interview on The Situation Room. "It was a matter of [Romney] taking positions on issues that he had never taken before and at the same time, he was bashing people like me who had been consistent in our own views."

Huckabee's book, released Tuesday, is exceedingly critical of several Republicans he says are partly to blame for the party's across-the-board losses on Election Day, including Romney and Fred Thompson - another former GOP presidential candidate.

In the book, Huckabee specifically takes aim at Romney for shifting positions on key conservative issues shortly before he decided to run for the White House, saying his record was "anything but conservative until he changed the light bulbs in his chandelier in time to run for president."

He also lashes out at Romney for what he said was the former governor's refusal to offer congratulations when Huckabee was the surprise winner of the crucial Iowa caucuses in January. Many political observers say it was that loss that ultimately derailed Romney's bid for the Oval office.

A spokesman for Romney called the comments "petty."

Huckabee also takes aim at Thompson in the new book, the former senator and television actor who jumped into the Republican presidential race significantly later than the other candidates.

"Fred Thompson never did grasp the dynamics of the race or the country, and his amazingly lackluster campaign reflected just how disconnected he was with the people, despite the anticipation and expectation that greeted his candidacy," Huckabee writes.

But in the interview with CNN, Huckabee said his comments in the book were part of a larger narrative calling for change in the leadership ranks of the Republican Party.

"This book is not about what's wrong with Mitt Romney or anybody else," he said. "I try to tell it in the narrative of the campaign. This book says if we're going to try to hit the reset party on the Republican Party, move forward, bring us back together and really become a majority party again...we'd better change things."

Huckabee, who is now the host of a weekly television program and set to begin a stint on the radio next year, appears to already be positioning himself for another presidential bid in 2012 and already has a trip to Iowa planned as part of his 56-city book tour.

But the former Arkansas governor dodged questions about whether he is interested in making another run for the White House.

"There's a part of me that wants to see some fundamental change. I may not be the one to lead it," he said.

In the wide-ranging interview, Huckabee also suggested he would have run a different general election campaign than John McCain, specifically when it came to the Arizona senator's support of the massive economic bailout bill in late September.

McCain now infamously suspended his campaign to return to Washington in hopes of shepherding through the $700 billion measure that the vast majority of conservatives opposed. The move appeared to upset many among the base of the Republican Party - a constituency that was already wary of the Arizona senator.

"The last things Republicans wanted our Republicans to do is to vote to give taxpayer money to private industry," Huckabee said. "That's the most un-Republican thing I've heard of in my life."

"It hurt McCain badly," Huckabee said of the then-Republican presidential candidate's support of the bill. "It was a matter of conscience for him but it was definitely a hurtful thing, particularly among Republicans."

Huckabee also said the Republican Party must ultimately return to its basic fundamental beliefs it hopes to be relevant again.

"We don't have any credibility if we say that we want to balance budgets and curtail spending and create these huge humongous deficits passed on to their grandchildren," he said.

"That's not only to me wrong, but it's irresponsible. Recklessly so."

Filed under: Mike Huckabee • Mitt Romney
soundoff (88 Responses)
  1. VETS4Obama

    Romney is completely fake and plastic! While I don't agree with Huckabee's positions, he at least did not spew hate and try and be devisive. He got it right on Romney though...

    November 19, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  2. Elizabeth

    THOU SHALL NOT JUDGE! This is the trouble with pastors and
    religious leaders. They preach to us and then do which they preach
    not to do. There is nothing to gain for Huckabee, except a few dollars
    from his book. That is why he is doing this. Doubtful if it was God
    inspired. Or if it was, WHAT God!

    November 19, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  3. DOCS 3


    November 19, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  4. John from the Outback

    Looks like the Republicans are already starting to pull together.

    Values don't equal competence. Bush was "saved." Bush was a good ol' boy from Texas who was proud that he wasn't "nuanced," and look where it got us. The Republicans must come to the middle and abandon the far right if they have any chance.

    November 19, 2008 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  5. jaye

    Name ONE republican that isn't backbiting and snarking their opponents.... they're acting like a bunch of girlymen that lost.
    They should be focusing their energy on the country and stop with the whiny interviews.

    November 19, 2008 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  6. Independent but Leaning

    Those who scream separation of church and state are pathetic. Read the history of our nation. We were founded on a belief in God.

    November 19, 2008 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  7. ROC

    Just selling books

    November 19, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  8. Mark from SAN DIEGO

    To MI Jay that says "The country is going downward not only in economic sense but also in fundamental values people used to treasure greatly. The whole socity is in disarray. Yeah, it's changing, but in a WRONG direction, Greedy like the wall streets and unfaithful like the scandals make news everyday. You'd ask if the country is going to be better off after this change? Nope. It only gets worse. Huckabee type of people is really the hope of this country" :

    It is people like you and your way of thinking that made this country in a mess, people like you think you have always correct and they never admit their mistakes, all these 8 years you still think the country wouldn't be a better off????? shame on you

    November 19, 2008 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  9. Jen

    Mike Huckabee is one of the best Republicans we have. For all you people who are spouting hate before even taking the time to get to know him better, he is a funny, smart, hard-working ordained minister who supported McCain. But after Obama won, he stated that Obama was "his president" and that he could count on his support. Stop being such hateful people. I read these posts, and I am appalled at the meanness of people. Grow up!!!! Huckabee is one of the good ones!!!

    November 19, 2008 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  10. Emily

    I like Huckabee compared to other Republicans. He's really a nice, down-to-earth kind of guy. But like Palin, he's just way too religious for me. Wait, that's an insult to him to compare him to her. He's definitely more qualified to be president than she is. And I'm not saying there's anything wrong with being religious, I just wouldn't want someone as president that would impose their faith on everyone. I could never vote for someone who would try to take away a woman's right to chose.

    November 19, 2008 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  11. Jason, Omaha

    If Romney would have kept his positions of liberal social issues and conservative economic issues, I would have been a hardcore Romney supporter. But, alas...

    November 19, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  12. Ken

    The moment that he took a paying job on Faux Noise with all the other hateful wingnuts, Huckabee became irrelevant.

    November 19, 2008 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  13. Leah from FL

    "Physician heal thyself" comes to mind. May we NEVER have a 'pastor' be elected president. it's in total opposition of separation of church and state.

    November 20, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
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