RUSH: I’m sure by now you’ve all heard of what I think was a Clintonesque performance, Governor Huckabee, at a press conference, unveiling an attack ad against Mitt Romney and then pledging not to run this attack ad, hoping to appeal to the voters in Iowa who are sick and tired of negative ads. So he’s got the press assembled in this hotel room, or wherever it was, and he tells people about the ad. He spent all day in Arkansas filming this ad. It was an Ed Rollins idea, and they spent $30,000 filming the ad and duping it. They had it ready to go and to mail to all of the television stations that they were going to buy time on, and as the truck is on the way to the post office with packages containing video copies of the ad, Huckabee decides to not run the ad. In the process of announcing he’s not going to run the ad, he shows the ad to the media, with a giant screen wherever the room was. The Drive-Bys are in there, and they’ve got their cameras, and they’re recording the ad. The ad has now run all over Iowa. It didn’t cost any airtime on TV stations, it just cost the $30,000 to produce.
Huckabee is denouncing the ad, saying, you know what? I want to appear to the better angles of the people of Iowa. He said, ‘I pulled the ad, I don’t want it to be run at all,’ but within minutes the ad was being played on national TV and had been posted on blogs and other websites without costing his campaign a penny. And, of course, the Drive-Bys that were assembled watching all this just started laughing. They started snickering and laughing when Huckabee said, (paraphrasing) ‘I’m not going to run this ad. I want you to watch this ad, but this is a bad ad, I’m not going to run it.’ And then he’s playing it for the people who he knows are going to run it. So now the Drive-Bys and the pundits are all engaged in analysis. Was this a faux pas? Is this really the result of the inexperience of the freshman Huckabee? Did he really not know what was going to happen here? Is this going to hurt him with Iowa voters, or is this a devious plot and a scheme here to get the ad out while denouncing it straight from the candidate’s mouth? Here is the press conference, a little audio from the press conference on Monday in Des Moines. This is Governor Huckabee telling reporters he was pulling the negative ad, it hadn’t run yet, about Mitt Romney.
HUCKABEE: If I were to continue this strategy, which is really not what I personally deep in my heart feel like is the right thing to do, it’s not what I really want to do. If you gain the whole world and lose your own soul, what has it profited you? And ultimately that became just for me the issue that it’s not worth it. I know that some of you are saying, ‘Well, did you really have an ad?’ I want to show you the ad. You’ll get a chance to find out exactly what we’re doing. (laughter) I want you to see it. This is what we planned to do. And I think once you see it, you’ll realize this is why we’re not going to run it.
RUSH: Now, the guy who did the ad, Ed Rollins, is standing right in the room when this happened, so what Huckabee essentially — you heard the laughter and the snickers from reporters who think they see through the gambit up here, the strategery. And of course Rollins is — the Washington Post described it this way. ‘Rollins stood uncomfortably to the side as Huckabee renounced what Rollins had helped produce for $30,000 the day before, but Huckabee defended Rollins at the conference saying that he was staying on as top advisor.’ I’ll tell you, here’s my two cents on this. This was no accident. This was intended to be carried out exactly as it was. I don’t even think it’s a matter of money. Could be, but I don’t think they chose this route to get the ad aired without having to pay for it. I think the attempt here is for Mr. Huckabee, Governor Huckabee, to be able to say to Iowans, ‘Look, I want to do the right thing here, but the press, you know, the press, they did it, I didn’t want you to see this ad.’ I don’t know if it’s going to work. I’m not going to join the chorus and say he’s embarrassed himself and this is going to cause a huge backlash, because I’m not sure that’s the case.
RUSH: This Huckabee thing, and his attack ad on Mitt Romney, I have a tough time going along with the conventional wisdom of the DC punditry, and the DC punditry in this case thinks that Huckabee really hurt himself by unveiling an ad that he never intended to run, or was saying he wasn’t going to run because it was too dirty. They’re laughing, and they think that Iowans will see through this and that Huckabee set himself way back. I’m not so sure about this, given the people who are excited about Huckabee. I think it would be very easy for them to look at what Huckabee said — he essentially got two ads for the price of one here. The ad that he had produced with Ed Rollins on Sunday, and then the press conference, which is another ad essentially in which he says, (paraphrasing) ‘I’m renouncing dirty politics. I’ve had it, this is not what this is to be about, gaining the world if you lose your soul. It’s not worth any of that.’ And knowing, ladies and gentlemen — this is what the Drive-Bys forget — knowing that there is an intense distrust of the media everywhere, I don’t care, Republicans, Democrats, average Americans have a distrust for the media, it’s quite possible that people will see Huckabee’s press conference as an attempt to be honorable, that the Drive-Bys have now sabotaged him, and they could easily conclude, ‘Look, he didn’t air the ad, you guys did.’ I mean the people that are looking at Huckabee in a supportive way are not analyzing Huckabee, this is what you have to understand. They are not picking apart his policy, they’re accepting him for what he is on the basis of his identity politics, so I don’t think they’re going to take it to the nth degree that the Drive-By pundits are. We’ll see, we’ll find out when the votes are cast in the first Hawkeye Cauci tomorrow night.