The Romney campaign came very close to airing a "Willie Horton" style attack advertisement against former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee during the 2007 Republican presidential primary, BuzzFeed's McKay Coppins reports.
The advertisement was intended to have the same effect as the infamous 1988 "Willie Horton ad," which attacked Democratic presidential candidate Mike Dukakis for supporting a program that allowed an incarcerated man to perpetrate a rape and assault while out on a weekend furlough from Massachusetts' Northeastern Correctional Center.
The Romney team's advertisement featured an interview with a mother who claimed that her pregnant daughter was murdered by a serial rapist released by Mike Huckabee.
"This is my daughter," the woman said. "She was pregnant with her first child. She was murdered by a serial rapist released early from prison in Arkansas. It was Mike Huckabee’s intent that Wayne Dumond be released from prison."
"It’s a pattern of bad judgment," she continued. "Very bad judgment. I don’t know how you could trust that person with the highest power in our country."
As the screen went to black, the words "Mike Huckabee granted 1,033 pardons and commutations, including 12 murderers" appeared on screen in an attempt to make the former Arkansas governor appear to be "soft" on crime.
Many in the Romney camp -- including one of its top strategists, Stuart Stevens -- believed that the advertisement would backfire because attacking a candidate as affable as Huckabee would make them appear "desperate."
Watch the entire advertisement below via YouTube.