From CBS News' Joy Lin and Mary Hood:
DAVENPORT, IA - Asked about Guantanamo, Mike Huckabee said he had visited the facility and said it was "disappointing" that military personnel were eating meals that averaged $1.60 while the detainees were eating Halal meals that cost over $4 each.
"The inmates there were getting a whole lot better treatment than my prisoners in Arkansas. In fact, we left saying, 'I hope our guys don't see this. They'll all want to be transferred to Guanatanmo. If anything, it's too nice."
Huckabee has said Guantanamo is more a "symbolic issue" than anything else since the detainees are treated better than prisoners in the US. Today Huckabee said, "Where they are detained is of less importance to me than that they are detained…until we know they are of no threat to us."
He also answered Mitt Romney's charges that he's soft on crime.
"If someone tries to tell you that I'm soft on crime, well that would be real news to the sixteen people whose executions I carried out. They didn't think I was being real soft," Huckabee said.
"And the fact is that was the toughest decision I ever had to make. You want to talk about judgement. No one else running for president ever had to make that decision. And you know what you have to make that decision? You better be right."
Meantime, yesterday in Cedar Rapids, it was a busy day for the commercial film crew chasing Huckabee, gathering material for the followup to his "controversial" (according to Huckabee at least) "What Matters" Christmas ad.
While "debate" continues over how appropriate it is to use the phrase "Merry Christmas" in a political ad, most everyone agrees it is not OK to say it after December 25.
According to Bob Wickers, Huckabee media consultant and mastermind of the "Chuck Norris Facts" commercial, the new ad will be intregal to the campaign and "consistant with who he is and how faith informs who he is". Expect an anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage message.
"In terms of core convictions, there is one candidate in this race who has core conviction," explains Wickers.
Huckabee has appeared before some very friendly audiences these past few days. The crowd cutaways should be nice!
Church goers and home schoolers flooded the basement of a local, family owned furniture store, for last night's gathering sponsored by the Iowa Christian Alliance, an outgrowth of the once powerful Christian Coalition.
If Huckabee's speaking cadence and style often resembles the flow of a church service, that just fine with the 200-ish supporters who peppered his speech with peppered with "Amens."
He mixed his populist, economic rhetoric with calls for the culture war and without naming his opponent, he portrayed Romney as a candidate who is buying the election.