Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has pulled an advertisement he recorded that criticizes rival Mitt Romney. Huckabee held a news conference in Des Moines today to play the ad for dozens of media outlets. Then, Huckabee announced he’d had a change of heart and wouldn’t be running the advertisement.
Huckabee has long boasted of his low-budget campaign, but during an interview with Radio Iowa Huckabee said he had plenty of money to pay for the attack ad, he just decided not to run it. "We’re running as many ads as we were planning to run, in fact we’ll buy some more time. We’ve got probably more than $2 million in the bank," Huckabee said, "so it’s not a matter of lack of money."
Huckabee had been a candidate on the rise in polls until rivals, notably Romney, started raising questions about Huckabee’s record as governor of Arkansas, criticism that eventually was crafted into campaign commercials. "We’ve gotten this far in Iowa with people saying, ‘Thanks for a positive message’ and there came a conflict between what we knew was the conventional political wisdom and what we just felt like was the right thing to do," Huckabee said during his interview with Radio Iowa. "When I woke up this morning — I mean we spent most of yesterday out there, you know, diligently working on this spot and getting it ready and producing it and getting it all set and getting it to the television stations this morning — and late this morning I just decided we’re not going to run that."
Late in the afternoon Romney’s Iowa campaign spokesman, Tim Albrecht, issued the following statement via email: "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. Mike Huckabee has turned from nice to very hot-tempered now that his record has been examined by voters."
Huckabee veered around protestors from the Ron Paul campaign to visit his Iowa campaign headquarters this afternoon. Many of the people making campaign calls on his behalf were children and for many it was a civics lesson in their home school curriculum. "How many kids get a chance to actually work in the internal operations of presidential campaign during the Iowa Caucuses? So it’s pretty amazing," Huckabee said. "I think a lot of parents here are bringing, you know maybe, their families because of that experience to say that 20, 30, 40 years ago they’ll be talking about doing this and I hope they’re talking about doing it for the guy who becomes president."
Huckabee’s due to attend a New Year’s Eve party at the Wakonda Club, the private club located just south of the airport that is a convenient and frequent stop for Republican politicians ducking into Des Moines to make a campaign appearance or keynote a fundraiser.