Mike Huckabee has no intention of being swept away by the inevitable attacks that have followed his surging poll numbers and with Iowa front-runner and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney renewing his criticism of the former Arkansans Governor, Huckabee took time this weekend to try and set his record straight.
Campaigning in South Carolina Saturday, Huckabee tailgated with supporters at the Clemenson-South Carolina football game in Columbia, before taking time Sunday to leave politics at the door and give a sermon at a local church–Huckabee is a former Baptist minister.
Taking up Romney on abortion, Huckabee lamented what he believed was a fair weather stance, telling tailgaters, “He’s come along. Even if he’s a little late, better late than never.”
Speaking with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer late Sunday morning, Huckabee criticized Romney as a candidate who plays to political winds and that attacks against his own position on issues like immigration are misrepresented.
“I never had illegals working on my lawn,” Huckabee told Blitzer.
“It was a meritorious scholarship,” said Huckabee, referring to a proposal he backed as Governor of Arkansans that would give illegal immigrants tuition breaks.
“They would be able to acquire that scholarship because, quite frankly, I would rather have them college-educated. I’d have some folks become citizens, paying taxes, rather than being in a position where their income was so low they ended up becoming tax takers,” he continued.
Romney has upped the attack on Huckabee in recent days and other hopefuls, including Fred Thompson (R-TN), have been quick to join the fray.
Citing Huckabee’s record of raising taxes as Governor of Arkansas and several issues involving ethics violations during his tenure, opponents are giving the media ordained, “Mr. Nice Guy”, a rude awakening to the dirt and flying elbows of politics.
Huckabee will face a difficult road ahead as his rising numbers have been met by rising attacks from rivals and interest groups like The Club for Growth, a conservative group focused on tax reform.
Leading pundit Robert Novak is no fan of Huckabee either; the conservative commentator published an opinion piece about Huckabee Monday entitled, “The False Conservative”.
The roe among Republican hopefuls has increased dramatically in the past few days, with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani attacking Mitt Romney, Romney going after Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson slinging arrows at whoever falls in his sights.
The rhetoric is already soaring and with the CNN GOP YouTube debate scheduled for Wednesday, a mêlée of mud between the front-runners will surely ensue.