Rivalry redux: Huckabee slams Mitt the 'flip-flopper'

Published November 18, 2008 5:24 pm

Battle scars » Former Baptist preacher calls LDS candidate a convenient convert to conservatism.
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Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee rips fellow Republican Mitt Romney in his new book as a disrespectful flip-flopper who tried to bully his way to the White House with his pocketbook.

The two former rivals fought bitterly for the GOP presidential nomination in the snowy fields of Iowa, and Huckabee's book, Do The Right Thing, shows the icy relationship hasn't warmed.

Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who bested Romney in the Iowa caucuses, charges that the former Massachusetts governor switched positions on abortion, gay rights, gun control and campaign-finance reform, among a host of other issues, to make his White House bid.

"He spent more time on the road to Damascus than a Syrian camel driver," Huckabee writes in the book, released Tuesday. "And we thought nobody could fill John Kerry's flip-flops!"

He later asserts that Romney's record was "anything but conservative until he changed all the light bulbs in his chandelier in time to run for president."

The book, coming a day after President-elect Barack Obama and former Republican nominee John McCain sat down for a collegial chat, directly attacks Romney and pulls no punches against several other conservatives who didn't back Huckabee's failed campaign.

Romney's spokesman dismisses the attacks as "petty stuff."

"We need to focus on moving the party forward with new ideas," spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom says. "Unfortunately, Mike Huckabee seems more interested in settling scores than bringing people together."

Many Romney supporters charged during the campaign that Huckabee, a one-time Baptist pastor, made overt attacks on Romney's LDS faith. They point to the occasion when Huckabee asked a New York Times Magazine reporter whether Mormons believe that Jesus Christ and Satan were brothers.

Huckabee also ran ads touting himself as a "Christian leader" and was criticized for a TV spot that seemed to show a floating white cross in the background. Huckabee writes in his book that the apparent cross wasn't planned and no one caught it until the news media started calling.

There's no direct mention of Romney's LDS faith in the book, although Huckabee has harsh words for some in the religious right who didn't back the former Arkansas governor. Huckabee says the endorsements of Pat Robertson for Rudy Giuliani, Bob Jones III for Romney and John Hagee for McCain came back to bite them.

"There was enough egg on the faces of all of them to feed omelets to the entire Republican National Convention," Huckabee writes.

On campaign finance, Huckabee scolds Romney for trying to do a "leveraged buyout of the Republican presidential nomination" and quips that while Huckabee was writing thank-you notes to donors, Romney and others simply were writing checks.

Romney funneled $44.6 million of his own personal fortune to his presidential bid, almost three times the $16 million from individual donors Huckabee raised and spent. Romney spent a total of $113 million on his unsuccessful bid.

Huckabee starts the book noting that, after he carried Iowa, his staff expected the traditional congratulatory call from Romney.

"That call from Romney never came, which we took as a sign of total disrespect -- something that would continue to be a source of angst among our team," Huckabee writes, "even though we had grown used to this kind of treatment from the Romney team."


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