From CBS News' Joy Lin:
OTTUMWA, IOWA -- It's almost as if Mike Huckabee was taking all the recent criticism of him in stride, especially the regular jabs from rival Mitt Romney on the stump and in TV ads. Well, tonight was fight back night for Huckabee, as he spent the good chunk of his Ottumwa event railing against Romney - even slamming him for running an attack ad against John McCain.
"You've heard a lot of things in all these television ads, and tonight I'd kind of like to set the record straight. And the reason I want to is because I saw an ad just this afternoon and at the beginning of the ad it said 'two good men' and it had Mitt Romney and me. And then for the next 28 seconds there wasn't a whole lot of good said about me. And the end of it was that I wasn't that good of a guy after all," quipped Huckabee.
"But then I saw another ad and this is what finally got to me. I'm kind of expecting to be attacked here in Iowa. We've spent one dollar for every twenty that Mitt Romney has spent in this state. I want you to stop and think about that – 20 to 1 outspent and we're leading. We're ahead. And so when people get that far behind having spent that much money they get desperate. Desperate is one thing but dishonest is something else and when you get desperate and dishonest it's not a very pretty sight. But then I saw the ad that he's using against Senator McCain in New Hampshire."
"Now folks, Sen. McCain is – I guess by many people's standards he's a rival. He's a candidate for president in the Republican Party like I am, but as I've said on national television and as I would say on any stage in America regardless of the politics John McCain is a true, honest to God American hero and we should respect him and honor him for who he is.
"And it's one thing to attack me, but it just kind of made me get a little bit concerned that if that's all we're going to do in the Republican Party is attack each other then maybe all we're doing is making it a whole lot easier for the other side to win the White House next year and I'm going to tell you there's none of us on the stage that you need to be nearly as afraid of as you ought to be afraid of any of those guys on the stage running for president."
Huckabee went on to defend his record on crime and on taxes before hitting romney on his anti-abortion stance, which even Romney has admitted is a recent shift for him.
"I know that Mr. Romney has said that he's pro-life, but that's a new position for him. But just before he left office he signed a health care bill that provides an elective abortion for a fifty-dollar co-pay."
"When he tells you he only signed pro-life legislation, ask him about that, I'm not here tonight to be unkind, but I want to set the record straight."
"And today, when I realized, that it was going to be the time not just attacking me, but even attacking Senator McCain, I thought you guys had the right to know the truth."
"One of the most important thing a president does is when he looks at the camera and talks to the American people. When the announcer says, ladies and gentlemen, from the Oval Office, the President of the United States – when you turn your attention to me because the president is about to speak, I think, more than anything, you want to believe that person when he talks to you, will be able to tell you the truth."