Arkansans talk for, against Huckabee in Iowa
Friday, Dec 14, 2007
By Aaron Sadler
Stephens Washington Bureau
(Click to read entire story: Arkansans Talk For, Against Huckabee in Iowa
WASHINGTON - Dueling bands of Arkansas travelers hit Iowa on Thursday with drastically different accounts of Mike Huckabee's record as governor.
Republican ex-legislators squared off on a Des Moines, Iowa, radio talk show, then campaigned in the state ahead of its GOP presidential caucus Jan. 3.
Huckabee brought to Iowa a group of five Arkansas Republicans who praised his tenure and compared him to GOP icon Ronald Reagan.
Meanwhile, Huckabee foes from the governor's native state said Huckabee was more like a former president that Republicans disdain.
"He's a pro-gun, pro-life Bill Clinton," said former state Sen. Jim Holt, R-Springdale, "(with) his communications skills, his likability and the way he's governed with taxes and all."
A five-day visit to Iowa by Holt and former Rep. Randy Minton of Cabot was funded by Ron Paul's presidential campaign.
"They said 'We just want you to get the truth out on Gov. Huckabee's record,'" Minton said.
Huckabee's contingent included state Sen. Gilbert Baker of Conway, and former Rep. Doug Matayo of Springdale. Both camps conducted radio interviews and one-on-one meetings with top Iowa Republicans.
Opinion polls show Huckabee leading a crowded GOP field three weeks before Iowa's first-in-the-nation nominating contest.
Paul, a Texas congressman, has substantially out-raised Huckabee financially but has little Iowa support to show for his money.
Huckabee spokeswoman Alice Stewart said the anti-Huckabee visit illustrates a difference between Huckabee's campaign and others.
"People should know who's behind that," Stewart said of Paul's funding for Holt and Minton. "We're trying to run a clean, positive campaign without tearing the other candidates down."
Opponents have ramped up attacks on the former Arkansas governor in recent weeks. They've ripped his tax record, called him soft on illegal immigration and blasted his pardon and commutation decisions.
Meanwhile, Huckabee has been criticized for the way he handled questions about Mitt Romney's Mormon faith. A Huckabee television advertisement in Iowa prominently touts the Southern Baptist minister as a "Christian leader." Huckabee apologized to Romney on Wednesday for earlier asking a reporter whether Mormons believed Jesus and Satan were brothers.
Romney is Huckabee's nearest competitor in the Hawkeye State, though Huckabee currently has a double-digit lead in most polls.
Holt and Minton have been in Iowa since Tuesday. Holt said they've been interviewed by national media outlets, had interviews with radio stations in Sioux City and Des Moines and had talks with caucus-goers.
Paul spokesman Jesse Benton said the campaign called upon the men because of their standing in Arkansas political circles.
"These guys are pretty respected politicians in Arkansas, as far as I understand, and they worked closely with Gov. Huckabee over the years," Benton said. "We think it's very important that voters in early primary states, particularly Iowa, get a full, honest picture of candidates' records."
In Des Moines on Thursday, Minton said Huckabee's tax record belies the ex-governor's conservative credentials.
While Huckabee boasts of 94 tax cuts, Minton said net tax increases while Huckabee was in office were more than $500 million.
State spending grew more than 7 percent annually and the payroll increased by 20 percent under Hucakbee's watch.
"If he has a good excuse for why he raised taxes that amount, he needs to tell Iowans why that is," Minton said.
Huckabee supporters attributed the budget and tax increases as necessities. Higher taxes improved state services. Higher spending is tied to rising Medicaid costs, Matayo said.
"I think Iowa understands that governors have certain things they have to do," he said. "One of the tax increases, on gas and diesel, the people voted. The people said 'We want better roads. We want safe infrastructure.'"
Matayo, Baker, former state Sen. Doyle Webb, former National Transportation Safety Board chairman Jim Burnett and National Rifle Association state chair Anne Britton spoke out in Iowa to "respond to attacks" on Huckabee, the campaign said in a news release.
Baker criticized Holt and Minton for not following the "11th Commandment," a decree set forth by Reagan ordering Republicans not to speak ill of other Republicans.
Matayo said the men were "picking on every possible negative issue to bring up against the governor."
Though Minton was in Iowa on Paul's dime, he said he supports Fred Thompson's presidential bid.
See related article: Spirit of '76 Liberty Revolution
The device which prepares freedom lovers for success, A Course in Miracles , indicates freedom of the body is meaningless without achieving freedom of the mind:
Do you want freedom of the body, or of the mind? For both you cannot have. Which do you value? Which is your goal? For one you see as means; the other, end. And one must serve the other, and lead to its predominance, increasing its importance by diminishing its own. Means serve the end, and as the end is reached, the value of the means decreases, and is eclipsed entirely when they are recognized as functionless. No one but yearns for freedom, and tries to find it. But he will seek for it where he believes it is, and can be found. He will believe it possible of mind or body, and he will make the other serve his choice, as means to find it.
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