ON THE ROAD BETWEEN MASON AND CONCORD, N.H. -- Since Labor Day, Mike Huckabee has spent at least 24 days – almost as many days he spent in Iowa – campaigning in New Hampshire. And on the day before the primary, Huckabee says he'd be satisfied with any kind of finish.
"Right now, the polls show us going into third. I don't know where it's going to end up," Huckabee told reporters on his campaign bus. "I think if we're third or fourth, we're still in the game. Even if we don't end up third or fourth, we're still in the game 'cause we got a great situation going on in South Carolina. That's a big state for us ... We're going to a place where we've got strong organization, good staffing, huge support and Florida: the same thing. We're going to do well here, and that's good, but the Iowa win put wind to our back and we'll build on that."
Asked by a reporter about his performance at Sunday night's Fox News Channel debate, Huckabee stewed over the "awkward and uncomfortable" debate format and complained people weren't given "adequate opportunity" to follow up on "things that were thrown at us." He then took the opportunity to show reporters on his bus how he would have taken on Romney.
"You know, Romney was very defensive of his record as saying that he did support Bush's tax cuts but the record reflects otherwise. If you go back and look at the statements he made in 2002, he did not support them. The only statements that were being made were not supportive."
Huckabee said the discrepancy was "characteristic" of Romney. He went into depth about a comment Romney made on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," where the host showed Romney his own campaign ad after the former Massachusetts governor denied ever calling McCain's immigration plan "amnesty."
When he heard about this, Huckabee said, he thought to himself, "You came on camera and you said, I'm Mitt Romney and I approve this message. Did you approve the message? Did you approve it and not know what you said? Or did you not approve it and it went out anyway? That's a real issue. That's a serious thing to say: I didn't watch my own television spot. I can manage the whole country but I'm not sure what I'm spending millions of dollars to say on TV. And I just thought that lacked all credibility – to say I'm Mitt Romney and I approve this message -- don't know what it said, but by golly, I approved it."
Huckabee also said it was "interesting" that Romney defended airing "negative attack ads" by saying they are "just record comparisons." Meanwhile, Huckabee noted, "If anyone says anything about his record, [Romney says], it's a personal attack. They're just attacking me personally."
"Well, you can't have it both ways," said Huckabee, "It's either a personal attack or a record comparison and I just felt like he was able to get away with it [yesterday]."
Huckabee said he was not attacking Romney but simply answering a "specific question about the debate" to which he was giving an "honest answer."
Huckabee made three campaign stops in New Hampshire this morning. With Chuck Norris in tow, Huckabee packed a pancake house, dropped by a bakery, and attended the launch of the "Huckaburger" at a restaurant in Concord. At the burger stop, Huckabee had to maneuver through a leering crowd of Ron Paul supporters chanting "Tax Hike Mike" and "Tax Like Mike."
Around 1pm, he boarded a private jet bound for New York. There, he'll be a guest on "The Late Show with David Letterman" before returning to New Hampshire for a rock band performance tonight.