Huckabee pledges to kill negative ad, proceeds to play it for reporters
In one of the political season's more outside-the-box campaign moves, Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee on Monday called a press conference to unveil a new TV spot targeting arch Iowa rival Mitt Romney -- but then, in a professed bout of conscience, announced he wouldn't stoop to airing such a negative ad.
And then proceeded to play it for reporters.
"I have covered my share of bizarre political stories before...this is probably the most bizarre press conference I've ever been to," reports CNN's Dana Bash. "Huckabee announced to the 50-plus reporters and dozen cameras packed in to see his first negative TV ad that he'd had a change of heart -- and decided to pull the ad from Iowa TV stations already planning to run it."
"It's never too late to do the right thing," a somber Huckabee told reporters.
Then, according to reports, Huckabee fired up a laptop projector.
"I know that some of you are saying, 'Well, did you really have an ad?,'" Huckabee told reporters. "I want to show you the ad. You'll get a chance to find out exactly what we're doing."
"To that, an eruption of laughter from the press," reported Bash. "All likely thinking the same thing: Huckabee wanted credit for staying positive, but still make sure the message against Romney got out."
The former Arkansas governor stressed that the press needed to fully appreciate just how contemptible the planned ad was.
"I want you to see it," Huckabee told those assembled. "I think once you see it you'll realize this is why we're not going to run it."
But Huckabee was plagued by technical problems as well as conscience.
"Adding to the spectacle, the sound of the ad didn't work for several minutes -- until the press got to hear it one time," reports Domenico Montanaro at MSNBC's First Read.
Excerpts from the not-quite-killed spot, via ABC's Political Punch:
HUCKABEE: I'm Mike Huckabee and I approved this spot because Iowans have the right to know the truth about Mitt Romney's dishonest attacks on me and even an American hero, John McCain.
NARRATOR: Romney's record? Over 700 million in new taxes. Left office with a deficit. No executions. Supported gun control. And Romney's government-mandate health plan provided a $50 co-pay for abortion.
HUCKABEE: If a man's dishonest to obtain a job, he'll be dishonest on the job. Iowans deserve better.
This video is from CNN's Situation Room, broadcast on December 30, 2007.