Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has a new ad airing in Iowa and New Hampshire, entitled "Tax Cuts Matter." In it, Huckabee defends his record as a fiscal conservative.
"In a hundred and sixty years in Arkansas,' he tells voters, "we'd never really had a broad-based, widespread tax cut. I was able to sign the first ever."
"I cut taxes over 90 times," he continues. "Balanced the budget every year I was governor. Left a surplus of nearly a billion dollars, and did it in the face of an overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature. That's a pretty good record."
But what Huckabee leaves out is that he increased sales taxes and gas taxes while governor. The anti-tax group Club for Growth is waging a $550,000 ad campaign of its own to make Iowa voters aware of this. The ads show Huckabee, when he was 100 pounds heavier and still the governor, discuss his support for tax increases on income, beer, gasoline, cigarettes and nursing home beds, according to the LA Times.
The Times adds that "a separate low-budget hit vowed Monday to take his anti-Huckabee campaign to South Carolina."
Although the Associated Press reports that Huckabee's sales tax increase was tied to a voter-approved constitutional amendment that trimmed property taxes by $180 million, that's not stopping the Club for Growth, whose ads have seemed to stall Huckabee's rise in the polls
In an interesting twist, many donors to the Club for Growth have also donated to the campaign of Mitt Romney, who has been attacking Huckabee with his own ads (For his part, Huckabee, in a now controversial press briefing, announced that he was pulling an attack ad of his own designed to respond to Romney, and then showed the ad to the press).
Houston home-builder Bob J. Perry of "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" fame, has donated $2,300 to Romney - and two weeks ago gave $200,000 to the Club for Growth, the Times reports. The paper also discovered that Boston investor John Childs, who donated $2,100 to Romney in 2007, has given $100,000 to the Club for Growth.
The Times' analysis of over 400 other donors to the Club for Growth in 2007 shows they also have given $60,000 to Romney, $65,000 to Giuliani, but less than $4,000 to Huckabee.
Romney's aides told the Times he has no connection to the Club for Growth's ads.
Despite the efforts of Romney and the Club for Growth, polls says that as many as 30 percent of the state's GOP activists have yet to make up their minds. And, although the religious right doesn't make up the entire GOP in Iowa, the Rev. Pat Robertson is backing Giuliani, The National Right to Life Committee has endorsed Fred Thompson, and the majority of Christian right activists seem to have settled on Huckabee.
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