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. KLEE

    Hey – the winners of the Election are having cup cakes – more fun on that page! Everybody have a cup cake and chill out for a while!

    November 19, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  2. Who Cares

    "exceedingly" critical??

    Mooney, I don't think that word means what you seem to think it means.

    November 19, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  3. Gail

    Love it – those Greedy and Nasty GOP's are eating each other. WONDERUL!

    I'm so proud Obama is our next President. I don't think I've ever said that about any president, and I've been voting since 1976.

    November 19, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  4. Red State

    Dear Huck, you suck

    November 19, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  5. California Gold

    Huckabee may say he's not settling old scores. May say he likes Romney. Sure, it is honest that Romney's politics on the campaign trail were not consistent with his position otherwise. But to dredge this up after the election is bad form. Come on Huckabee. Give it a rest. See if there are more important issues to embrace. What you are doing now makes you look B-A-D.

    November 19, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  6. Chris in Va.

    It is such a pleasure to watch the Republican machine eat itself. Keep up the good work!...........R.I.P.

    November 19, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  7. Cynthia - Arkansas

    Just wait until all the Republicans think it's safe to start talking. I think the floodgates will open soon. Everyone will want to save their own reputations.

    November 19, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  8. Cynthia - Arkansas

    Oh, some of you may not know this. When Huckaby's term ended in Arkansas, the state elected nothing but Democrats for every high office! We couldn't wait for him or the rest of the Republicans to be gone!

    November 19, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  9. Proud First-time Voter for Obama in Indiana

    Mike Huckabee is narrow-minded, arrogant, and hateful to all who don't follow his Christian dogma. Why the hell are we still listening to people like him and Sarah Palin? They're idiots. Let's concentrate on those who have at least a shred of intelligence.

    November 19, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  10. Dmedic

    So many on here just want any and all conservitives to crawl away and die. Well where would that leave our country? Does everyone want a one party countrty? Where would the check and balances come from? Both parties go hand in hand.You have to have oxygen to breathe, and you need to have a two party system. So instead of bashing someone for the their views, their ideas and their morals, say something nice with the criticism.

    November 19, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  11. John

    This guy is just plain irritating.

    November 19, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  12. Annie, Atlanta

    I think they lost because if you do not think like them they get hateful and go on the attack – even their own. They want to make all of us live by their beliefs. I'm a Christian and I'm never hateful in the name of God, nor do I try to force feed anyone my beliefs. Creationism in school? – what about science? I was taught both creationism and evolution in Catholic school. If you think differently you don't count – you're the enemy. Sounds more like tyranny than a democracy. The Republicans have become frightening on so many levels.

    November 19, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  13. Charles H, Mississippi

    The Republican Religious Wing-Nuts are self destructing.

    I love it.

    Hey GOP – Dig This: Freedom of Religion = Freedom FROM Religion

    Go away.

    November 19, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  14. That Other Jerry

    Huck, I like you, like most of your ideas, like the way you talk. Didn't particularly like Romney either. McCain is a hero, but he was the wrong man at the wrong time. Unfortunately so are you. The party needs another Ronald Reagan in the worst sort of way. I cast my first vote for Reagan, watched his speeches, followed his life, read his biographies and his love letters to Nancy. You're a nice guy, Huck, but (with apologies to Lloyd Bentsen), you're no Ronald Reagan.

    November 19, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  15. aynes54

    Better get use to seeing Huckabee....He's here for a long time..Obama's camp already upset because Hillary is taking her time to decide...Should be SOOOO interesting...Can't wait for the fireworks....

    November 19, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  16. Karl Hussein

    Not settling old scores? Oh, yes you are!!! But it's okay. That's the Republicans' present nature. Trust me, it's okay to see you guys purge one another. One day your party should return better...not with Newt or Barr or Palin or the likes or Rush, Hannity or Coulture.

    November 19, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  17. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Huckabee and Romney have religious differences and this ain't about politics so just tell it like it is.

    November 19, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  18. Lee

    Of course his comment about Romney is true.

    Mitt Romney is completely amoral, the perfect politician, and will change his views on a dime, even sell his grandmom to slavery if he thought it would help him gain power.

    At least Huckleberry is authentic. Authentically nuts but still authentic.

    November 19, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  19. Texas Teacher

    Huckabee was not so bad.... for a Republican. At least he is kinda cuddly lookin'... it gives you a bit of a warm and fuzzy! *LOL* Even if you don't agree with him, you can picture him being someone's Gramps! Now I pity the child that has Cheney for a Grandfather... with that sneer, I can't see him being very warm and fuzzy to ANYONE!

    November 19, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  20. Vic

    Romney will never be elected president. He may as well drop out of the political scene.
    And, as for Huckabee, he and the rest of the republicans that rallied behind McCain and Palin did our country a disservice by backing them as they shamed our country with their vile, vulgar, race baiting, lie telling, sinful campaign.
    Why would Huckabee put those party members before his own soul.

    November 19, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  21. aaa

    go away!!!

    November 19, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  22. jaye

    Soon as Huckabee took the job on Fox News I knew it was only a matter of time until he imploded. LOL
    Notice how the defeated republicans run to Fox News t get tea and sympathy? LOL

    November 19, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  23. Syed shamsuddoha

    Uneducated (has a bachelor degree and Huck with two honorary doctorates. What a freebie without any work – not one doctorate; but two!!! What a waste!!! The institutions must be getting a piece of Huck-Pie from his show business.

    John McCain and Sarah Palin are another pair with inadequate education. If Americans could voted for them (which were just waste in 2008), they might as well be with a better educated ones – Huckabee. At least Huckabee knows how to talk!!! He has a degree in religion and he even dropped out of the seminary.

    If anyone wants to check the educational background of the Democrats and that of the Republicans, anyone will be able to see that the Democrats are far more educated from prestigious schools than their counterparts from Republican Party. looks like the Democrats don't buy the qualifications, they earn them.

    That's tells us why the country suffers under Republican Party's leadership. Remember, Ronald Reagan was the biggest culprit for the bad economic position the US has today (in economy) and his surrogate Republicans are still thinking that Reagan was right. Do you get the message? Yes, ultimately it comes to education!!!



    November 19, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  24. petrocrab

    Beware this man. There is little difference between him and James Warren "Jim" Jones. Beneath the coat and tie, he seeths with hatred and bigotry.

    November 19, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  25. Sue in MI

    Yeah, and McCAin said he respected and liked Obama too, right after he blasted him for being a socialist! And he said he was a "good father" but has never said he's a good American..because the Repubs only have room in their universe for people who think exactly like they do (and fortunately, there aren't enough of them right now to make a difference.) What Palin said on the trail is exactly what they believe: "Real Americans" and the rest of us...and that is why they went down, and why she will never be important on the national stage, nor Huckabee with his "religious" and divisive beliefs. I think we will see new faces for 2012, and new ideas, and it's about time.

    November 19, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
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