NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Asked by WCSC-TV reporter Kate Crawford to respond to Fred Thompson's comment that it was "surprising" Mike Huckabee did not know about the National Intelligence Estimate report on Iran, Huckabee explained that the report came out at 10 a.m. and, "we were in full-time campaign mode and in non-stop activities" when the reporter asked him the question.
"I think everybody understands that but maybe an opponent. Maybe because we were campaigning so hard, that would be lost on some people...who aren't," said Huckabee in a veiled swipe at Thompson's work ethic.
"There's an old saying in the news business. It's news when it's unusual. For the senator to attack me is not unusual, I'm not sure it's news," said Huckabee.
Asked to explain his comment that Bush only got around to reading the NIE report after it had been out for a number of years, Huckabee said it was not an attack on the president, but rather a "tongue-in-cheek" way of saying he thought it was "ludicrous to suggest that somehow out in the campaign trail going non-stop, that I'm somehow to have access to it within hours of when he did."
"There's not a person in America with an IQ above broccoli that expects that every candidate who is in the middle of a twenty hour day, is going to instantly be able to comment on everything."
He said he could have lied to the reporter and said he had read it but would not comment on it
"But one thing I'm going to do with the people, and that's level with them," said Huckabee. "So I leveled with him, told him 'No, I haven't read it. Been busy,' I said, 'You guys have been with me all day.' And so I get in trouble if...I tell the truth…I know I get in trouble if I didn't tell the truth – if not [with] you guys, I'd get in trouble when I put my head on the pillow at night and I'm far more interested in letting you get in trouble with me than the Lord, who knows whether I told the truth or not."
The comments were made at a press conference where Huckabee received endorsements from local Republican leaders Tim Scott and Maurice Washington.
**Special thanks to WCSC, the CBS affiliate in Charleston, S.C. for their help today.