A bizarre bit of political theater from the Huckabee campaign:
Talk about political jujitsu!
Mike Huckabee is holding a press conference right now in which he was supposed to unveil a new negative ad against arch rival Mitt Romney.
But Mr. Huckabee came to the press conference and announced he’d had a change of heart and would not be broadcasting the ad after all.
But wait! It gets better.
He then broadcast it for a room crammed with reporters, photographers and television cameras.
The assembled media found the display hilarious and at several points laughed out loud.
Huckabee’s melodramatic introduction, the one where he attempted to take the moral high ground while simultaneously wallowing deep in the muck, confirms the concerns that I’ve had about his character and judgement. His play here is so transparent and so slimy – so Clintonian – that a backlash would seem inevitable.
Update: 4:58 PM CST:
Video of the ad, shot at the press conference, can be seen here. I’m sure a better copy will be “leaked” via YouTube soon.
Update 4:40 PM CST:
The backlash was immediate. It continues to build. Huckabee might be toast before all is said and done. I’m adding commentary from the blogosphere below.
Others Blogging the Backlash:
We’ve all seen some very cheap stunts over the years, but they’re not usually this cheap and not this transparent. Reporters covering the campaign aren’t idiots, and Huckabee just insulted their intelligence.
Reading Huckabee’s quotes makes him sound entertaining and likeable, similar to Bill Clinton. He’s a great salesman … but I’m not buying.
Gomer denounces the blatant cynicism of a campaign. His own.
ComMITTed to Romney!
I swear this guy is absolutely clueless, and he gets more ignorant by the moment.
That sound you hear rumbling out of Des Moines appears to be a monumental implosion.
The Romney campaign is already calling this a “meltdown.” Whatever it is, it’s a little bizarre.
The Real Clear Politics Blog
Why not just cancel the whole thing? It might have come off as a bit unorganized, but at least Huckabee would have been able to play the magnanimous card without the stench of clumsy opportunism, which will certainly be noted in the media reports.
It’s the sort of gambit that will instantly trigger cynicism among the political class, especially given the confusion that surrounded the move.
It’s his entire cynical faux nice guy style of politics in microcosm — the man who’s so innocent and virtuous that he doesn’t even recognize the Machiavellian gambits he somehow keeps stumbling into.
Maybe, despite al the bravado, Huckabee doesn’t have the cash to run the ad. Whatever was behind Huckabee’s fiasco, it sure didn’t present the image of a decisive leader. I’m sure Carl Cameron’s report will have al Qaeda shaking in their caves.
A day after calling Mitt Romney “desperate” and “dishonest”, Mike Huckabee cancelled a negative commercial aimed at his chief rival in the Republican Caucus. Then he showed the commercial to the press and even encouraged them to tape it if they wanted to.
Stop the ACLU
This is what in politics is called utter B.S.
Right Up Front
This is going to be seen as the half-witted political maneuver that it is, and it could not come at a worse time for Huckabee as polls show him on the decline in Iowa and Mitt Romney on the uptick. Goodness, Mike. What were you thinking?
Riehl World View
But suddenly at Noon, no more negative attacks while standing surrounded by five placards of negative attacks and showing an attack ad to the press … and pledging to keep it positive from now on? How about, he doesn’t want to spend the money to buy air time and hopes the media will carry his water, instead? I’d like to think the press won’t lie down and play dumb for Huckabee, though I doubt it – some want him to be the nominee so bad, they won’t bother exposing the charade.
Instead of being moral he acts like someone who donates thousands of dollars to charity and who, instead of doing it knowing that he’s doing the right thing and leave it at that, goes on to tell everyone how generous he is and how much money he exactly gave to those charities.
The QandO Blog
Yeah, right Mike. I’m sure they’ve never heard of “cynical manipulation” either. If they weren’t cynical before you began speaking they’re morons if they’re not cynical now. Yeesh.
A Chequer-Board of Nights
This is one of the most cynical and hypocritical things I have seen in politics.
Race 4 2008
Does he think we are fools?
In perhaps the single most brazen display of hypocrisy in politics in a long while, Republican Mike Huckabee held a press conference to say he’s above negative campaigning and then immediately went negative.
Huckabee likes putting on the airs of an “aw shucks” country pastor, but underneath I think he’s a lot more of a calculating, cynical politician than either he or his supporters are willing to admit. I’d even go so far as to say he’s a snake in the grass.
The Right’s Field
Huckabee’s really not experienced at the way these attacks are supposed to work, is he? You’re supposed to find a surrogate, not BE the surrogate handing out the ads to the media! It kind of ruins the whole “plausible deniability” thing when you’re doing the denying yourself.
What Huckabee pulled today was not only hilariously and woefully transparent, it also made him appear worse than the guy he was trying to smear.
If he loses Iowa’s caucuses, New Year’s Eve will forever mark the day Huckabee blew it — the day a crowd stopped laughing with the witty Republican and laughed at him.