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Old 12-31-2007, 11:57 PM
David David is offline
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Sorry this is such a transparent ploy. Reporters must be laughing. Will Iowa caucus goers get the point? This guy is a disingenuous flim flam man. Wash Post
SOURCE
Huckabee Unveils Ad Only to Disavow It

By Michael D. Shear and Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, January 1, 2008; A01

DES MOINES, Dec. 31 -- Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee took an unorthodox gamble in his bid for the presidency Monday, unveiling an attack ad against Republican rival Mitt Romney and then immediately pledging not to run it in the hopes of appealing to the better nature of Iowa voters.

Flanked by posters his campaign produced to question Romney's credibility, Huckabee decried gutter politics in America but then directed the attention of scores of reporters and television cameras to a movie screen, where he played the 30-second hit piece on Romney's honesty and record.

"I pulled the ad. I do not want it to be run at all," he said. But within minutes, the ad was being played on national television and had been posted on blogs and other Web sites -- without costing his campaign a penny.

The campaign's decision to not buy airtime for the ad came after an internal debate over how to arrest the damage from a week of critical Romney campaign commercials and several highly publicized flubs by Huckabee, whose sudden status as front-runner in the GOP contest here appears to be in jeopardy.

Huckabee has not had a good day in nearly a week as he has tried to respond to attacks by Romney on his Arkansas record and to increasingly skeptical media coverage. A poll released Sunday showed him trailing Romney here after once leading by double digits. Over the weekend, he began telling reporters that a second-place finish would be wonderful.

In the past several days, Huckabee has lashed out at Romney, calling him "dishonest" for airing ads that distort Huckabee's record. In an appearance on "Meet the Press" on Sunday, he accused Romney of "running a very desperate and, frankly, a dishonest campaign." His campaign Web site compares Romney to the "Seinfeld" character George Costanza, who the campaign quotes as saying: "Just remember, it's not a lie if you believe it."

Instead of becoming more disciplined in the face of battle, Huckabee and his campaign have veered off in directions that have not helped his message. Huckabee has had several gaffes in recent days, including an erroneous comment that a large number of illegal immigrants come to the United States from Pakistan. The mistake raised questions about his foreign policy experience.

Huckabee spent all day Sunday filming the ad, flying to Arkansas to produce it and losing a day on the campaign trail as a result. On Monday, his campaign appearances included an early-morning run through the snow and a haircut that became a media circus because it followed his news conference.

On Wednesday, Huckabee is scheduled to leave Iowa -- a virtually unheard-of move on the day before the caucuses -- and head for Hollywood, where he will appear as a guest on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno."

Romney, meanwhile, spent the weekend crisscrossing Iowa with a bus tour called "Strong America." He will use the final day of campaigning to fly around Iowa in a last-minute push for votes.

Huckabee's decision on Monday -- which produced loud snickers from reporters sensitive to hypocrisy -- is the latest gimmick in an unconventional campaign that has captured the fancy of Iowa voters, especially Christian conservatives, with a mix of offbeat humor, anti-business populism and aw-shucks Southern charm. The morning after Christmas, Huckabee went pheasant hunting, earning pictures on front pages everywhere.

Huckabee's poll numbers began to rise a month ago after the campaign started airing its first ad -- a cartoonish spot featuring action hero Chuck Norris. A later ad just before Christmas stirred up controversy by panning across a white bookcase that some said looked like a cross.

Huckabee said the new ad, which says Romney is too dishonest to be president and wrong on gun control, abortion and taxes, was sent to television and radio stations Sunday but will not be broadcast. He said he had made the decision only 10 minutes before his noon news conference, surprising even his top staff.

"The original plan was to show you the two Romney attack ads, then our response to it," he told reporters. "I just realized that this is not how we run our campaign in this state. We've gotten here by being positive."

That drew a sarcastic response from Romney campaign spokesman Kevin Madden. "To say one thing one minute and then turn around and show an attack ad to reporters the next will, obviously, leave folks with a very cynical view of Mike Huckabee and his message," Madden said. "Mike Huckabee has turned from nice to very hot-tempered now that his record has been examined by voters."

The move also was ridiculed by some in the party who said it called into question whether Huckabee is ready to be the GOP standard-bearer.

"Poor Huckabee has gone from being a principled conservative candidate to a political analyst who can't make a decision on strategy," said Scott Reed, who managed Robert J. Dole's presidential campaign in 1996. "This effort makes him look weak and will begin a new level of second-guessing that will overwhelm his campaign in the critical homestretch."

The possibility of a Huckabee victory in the 2008 nomination battle has been improbable from the beginning. In the first six months of the campaign, he raised almost no money and was a mere blip in most national and state polls.

He also adopted a unique, populist message for a Republican, one that takes aim at much of his party's establishment by highlighting how different he is from the button-down Romney.

As he seeks to expand his support beyond the conservative evangelicals who put him atop the field, Huckabee increasingly sounds like one of the Democratic candidates who has long been popular here, former senator John Edwards of North Carolina.

"A lot of the folks on Wall Street have been pummeling me . . . but I'm a champion of the guys on Main Street," Huckabee said Friday in Ottumwa.

Pete Wehner, a former top adviser to President Bush, said he thought Huckabee was "onto something" by emphasizing economic concerns of middle-class Americans but was not expressing them in a way that would win over GOP voters. "It's an interesting test case," Wehner said, "but that message of economic populism goes against the core of Ronald Reagan's message and is out of step with Republican voters."

Several weeks ago, Huckabee seemed to concede that he needed some guidance from an old Washington hand when he hired Ed Rollins, a Republican operative who joined the team with a pledge to help with the intraparty brawl that was sure to come. Rollins said on Sunday that they were producing an ad that would "set the record straight" on Huckabee and Romney.

Rollins stood uncomfortably to the side as Huckabee renounced what Rollins had helped produce for $30,000 the day before. But Huckabee defended Rollins at the news conference, saying that he was staying on as a top adviser.

"I'm responsible for the direction we're going," Huckabee said. "I'm responsible for the decision to pull it."
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  #2  
Old 01-01-2008, 12:57 AM
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They WERE laughing. NY Times
SOURCE
December 31, 2007, 1:44 pm
Huckabee’s Remarkable Play

By Katharine Q. Seelye
Huckabee's Remarkable PlayMike Huckabee’s news conference Monday in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo: Todd Heisler/The New York Times)

DES MOINES — Talk about political jujitsu!

Mike Huckabee is holding a press conference right now in which he was supposed to unveil a new negative ad against arch rival Mitt Romney.
Video

But Mr. Huckabee came to the press conference and announced he’d had a change of heart and would not be broadcasting the ad after all.

But wait! It gets better.

He then broadcast it for a room crammed with reporters, photographers and television cameras.

The assembled media found the display hilarious and at several points laughed out loud.

Telling you what’s in the ad, of course, plays into Mr. Huckabee’s strategy of getting his message out — Mr. Romney is bad — while being able to say his hands are clean.

He spoke at a dais in front of a huge banner that said, “Enough is Enough.” Placed around the room were poster boards criticizing Mr. Romney for various things.

Mr. Huckabee, with his wife standing silently off to the side, said that the “conventional wisdom” was that when you are attacked, you attack back. But, he said, an hour before the press conference, which was scheduled for noon, he just decided not to go that route.

“It’s not worth it,” he said.

Polls regularly show that Iowa voters do not reward candidates who go negative, and perhaps Mr. Huckabee saw some of those polls. “The people of Iowa deserve better,” he said.

Asked if he wasn’t being hypocritical by showing the ad to a roomful of cameras that are likely to record it and show it — for free — around the country, Mr. Huckabee said he was showing it to reporters only because reporters were so cynical that if he didn’t show it, they would not believe that he really had made such an ad.

“It’s never too late to do the right thing,” he said. He added that he would love to sit down and have a debate with Mr. Romney, at which point a Fox News reporter piped up that Fox would love to broadcast such an event.
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Old 01-01-2008, 1:02 AM
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AP
ON DEADLINE: Did Huckabee go too far?

By RON FOURNIER, Associated Press WriterMon Dec 31, 4:56 PM ET

Mike Huckabee may have finally gone too far.

After running an unconventional, surprisingly strong and sometimes strange race to the top tier of the Republican presidential campaign, the former Arkansas governor topped himself Monday with a campaign stunt that smacked of hypocrisy.

He called a news conference to unveil a negative ad that he had just withdrawn from Iowa television stations because, he told a room full of journalists recording the ad, he had a sudden aversion to negative politics. Quite a convenient epiphany.

"If people want to be cynical about it," Huckabee said, "they can be cynical about it."

If he loses Iowa's caucuses, New Year's Eve will forever mark the day Huckabee blew it — the day a crowd stopped laughing with the witty Republican and laughed at him.

If he wins — a possibility that even Huckabee now thinks he put at risk — he sealed victory in a weird way Monday.

Here's what happened:

Huckabee came out of nowhere a few weeks ago to overtake former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in Iowa polls, despite being massively outspent and out-organized. Romney answered back with television ads criticizing Huckabee's record in Arkansas.

While guilty of cherry-picking the worst aspects of Huckabee's resume, the negative ads stuck with the facts. For example, Huckabee did grant 1,033 pardons and commutations, including for 12 convicted murderers, as Romney's ad stated.

Huckabee's lead evaporated, which suggests that the ads worked or that a series of gaffes had caught up to him.

Or both.

So he did what desperate candidates do. Huckabee took himself off the campaign trail Sunday to shoot a negative ad. He bought $30,000 in television time to air the spot and called a news conference to unveil it.

While awaiting the late-arriving Huckabee, more than 50 reporters and a dozen photographers got to read five huge cards placed on easels by Huckabee's staff — all highly critical of Romney's record as governor.

"Enough is enough," the signs said.

When Huckabee arrived, he announced that he had just changed his mind. The ad wouldn't run. It was too negative.

"I believe the people of Iowa deserve better, and we are going to try and give them better ...," he said.

But he didn't. Instead, Huckabee showed off the spot to the journalists, knowing full well his negative message would seep out of the room. He told the media to pay close attention.

"You're not going to get a copy of it," he warned, "so this is your chance to see it, then after that you'll never see it again."

The media laughed.

One of the funniest, most charming presidential candidate in recent memory, Huckabee normally makes reporters and voters laugh at his one-liners. On Monday, he made himself the butt of his own joke, urging journalists to take careful note of the negative ad that he had withdrawn because he wanted to run a positive campaign.

"It's never too late to do the right thing," he said.

The ad criticizes Romney's record as governor, fairly so, but goes on to question his character. "If a man is dishonest to obtain a job," Huckabee says in the ad, "he'll be dishonest on the job."

Funny that Huckabee decided at noon that line was too negative, because he used it six hours earlier during a national TV interview.

He used it on a Sunday news show, too.

And he didn't disavow the line Monday. "I said what I said. I spoke the truth," Huckabee said.

If he loses Thursday, Huckabee said, "I'll be the last guy to do this. But I want to be the first who will at least try."

Iowans have a reputation for punishing politicians who go negative. The question is whether voters, particularly evangelicals who make up his political base, will believe Huckabee had the political equivalent of a deathbed conversion.

Or will they think he's treating them likes rubes — appealing to their sense of fair play while being foul?

Either way, the bizarre news conference was the latest twist in a campaign that has given new meaning to the word paradox. Huckabee is an immensely talented communicator and successful former governor who is nonetheless a flawed candidate.

• He is mistake prone, particularly when it comes to commenting about foreign policy.

• He can be thin-skinned and rash. Two of his advisers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said privately Monday that the production of the ad was fueled by Huckabee's white-hot anger with Romney, and that his change of mind was jarring to the campaign staff.

• He has a paltry political organization in a state that values the ground game, according to an informal survey of GOP county chairs and co-chairs. "I haven't seen much of a sign of him or his people," said Jim Conklin, chairman of the Linn County GOP.

He can also be disarmingly honest. Asked whether Romney should stop running negative ads, Huckabee said, "I'm not going to try to run his campaign."

"I'm having enough trouble running mine."
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Old 01-01-2008, 9:48 AM
rachel rachel is offline
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Quote:
They WERE laughing.
And so they should. What a stunt. Does he really think anyone was fooled by that?

I sure would hate to have to hold my nose and vote for him.
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Old 01-01-2008, 4:59 PM
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Originally Posted by rachel View Post
And so they should. What a stunt. Does he really think anyone was fooled by that?

I sure would hate to have to hold my nose and vote for him.
He's so bad, I don't even think I could. He'd ruin the party's credibility for decades.
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Old 01-01-2008, 7:06 PM
rachel rachel is offline
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What a nightmare, though, if Shrillary is the demmie candidate and the Huckster is the repub. If a conservative doesn't vote for the Huckster in that circumstance, it's like giving Shrillary a vote.
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Old 01-01-2008, 7:14 PM
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What a nightmare, though, if Shrillary is the demmie candidate and the Huckster is the repub. If a conservative doesn't vote for the Huckster in that circumstance, it's like giving Shrillary a vote.
Too true. I'm usually die-hard against sitting out or voting 3rd party, for that very reason. I just ... can you imagine? Alien vs predator.

Oh well. There's no way he'll get that far, so I'm not going to worry about it. Surely our people will stop it before it gets to that point.
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Old 01-01-2008, 7:35 PM
rachel rachel is offline
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One would hope.
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