Turning his back on advice given him by one of the nation's top political campaign consultants, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee abandoned the strategy of all-out attacks on rival Mitt he'd launched just four days earlier -- in favor of waging a positive campaign.
According to the New York Times, Ed Rollins, widely credited with helping to steer Ronald Reagan into the White House, had urged new client Huckabee to go after Romney tooth and nail - a strategy that Huckabee appeared to embrace -- only to abandon it a few days later.
Noting that Huckabee had pledged for months not to stoop to negative politics or attack advertisements, Times writer David Kirkpatrick wrote that "he drew an obvious contrast with his better-financed rival Mitt Romney, who battered Mr. Huckabee with critical commercials and mail."
The combative Rollins, however, was impatient with his client's nice-guy approach. He told a reporter just the day after Christmas that if Romney’s attacks continued, the Huckabee campaign would soon throw some punches of its own. “I’m an old boxer,” he said.
Over the weekend, Kirkpatirck reports that Huckabee gave in to Rollins' advice and used a stump speech to begin what the Times reporter called "an escalating series of attacks on Mr. Romney’s credibility and calling his tactics 'dishonest.' On Sunday, Huckabee filmed a new commercial driving home his attacks on Mr. Romney.
On Monday, Huckabee rejected Rollins' counsel and renounced his four-day-old attack strategy, pledging at a news conference that he would stop attacking Romney, but also took the occasion to screen the anti-Romney commercial for the media. He said he would not release it to the public, despite the fact he knew the media would do it for him.
He explained his decision by pronouncing, “If you gain the whole world but lose your own soul, what does it profit you?” He was quoting the Bible to explain his last-minute decision to reverse his four-day-old strategy.
Wrote Kirkpatrick, "He took full responsibility for the commercial and its cancellation. But he also tossed a gentle jab at Mr. Rollins. Asked if he had fired anyone for advocating the attacks, Mr. Huckabee said no. “Ed is awfully happy about that,” he added, glancing toward his new adviser in the corner of the room."
He added that Iowa voters applauded his decision to pull back from such attacks.
Said a philosophical Rollins “Sometimes the candidate makes the decision,” he added. “And that is a good thing.”
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