From The Hill
Huckabee fights back, calls Romney’s attacks ‘dishonest’
By Aaron Blake
INDIANOLA, Iowa -- Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) lashed out at his top competitor in Iowa on Saturday, calling the attacks launched by the campaign of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) “incredibly desperate and frankly dishonest.”
Speaking at a local restaurant, Huckabee addressed several of the main charges against him, beating back criticism that he granted too many pardons as governor, has raised taxes too much and benefited personally from his title as governor.
The Iowa frontrunner broke new ground with a sharp counter-attack, though, and he suggested a dishonest campaign is a preview of what would occur under a Romney administration.
“One day, one of us is going to be president,” Huckabee said. “You need to know that the person who is the president of the United States is looking you in the eye and telling you the truth.”
Huckabee said Romney has been attacking all of his top competitors, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), instead of running on his own record.
He spent a lot of time in particular talking about the pardons charge, an issue which has dogged him since he rose to the top of the polls in Iowa. One of the pardoned men, a convicted rapist, went on to commit murder.
Huckabee compared two cases where young men wanted pardons for minor offenses so they could pursue career or school tracks that required clean records – one in Massachusetts under Romney and one in Arkansas under Huckabee. Huckabee granted the pardon; Romney did not.
Huckabee also talked tough, noting that his state put more than a dozen men to death under his watch. Opponents have accused him of being soft on methamphetamine dealers.
“The 16 people that I carried out an execution on in Arkansas would hardly say I was soft on crime,” he said. “That’s something no other person running for president – Democrat or Republican – ever had to do.”
One character witness for Huckabee’s toughness is Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist, who stood by his side during the speech and has been pitching his illegal immigration policy in recent days.
Gilchrist said he envied Huckabee for responding respectfully and diplomatically to Romney’s attacks. He also said the executions show Huckabee respects the law.
“This guy means business; the rule of law is the rule of law,” Gilchrist said.
Huckabee supporter Richard Nation, a retired former Veterans Administration employee from Des Moines, said Huckabee’s hand was forced by Romney.
“It’s unfortunate that he has to do that,” Nation said. “I didn’t think that’s his intent [to attack Romney].”
Huckabee closed his speech with a series of veiled shots at Romney’s shifting positions on social issues.
“If that president says that we need to protect human life from the time of conception,” he said, “you need to know that president actually believes that and didn’t just say it so he could get elected to office, and that when he gets in office, he’ll actually do something about it.”
From The Hill