Romney Almost Compares Huckabee To Bill Clinton

From CBS News' Scott Conroy:

BELLEVUE, IOWA -- Pardons and commutations. It's an issue on which Mitt Romney has hammered Mike Huckabee over the past couple of weeks. Romney has criticized Huckabee again and again for issuing a slew of pardons when he was Governor of Arkansas.

But at a press conference today, Governor Romney appeared to take it to a whole new level when he mentioned a different former Arkansas governor.

"In the term of President Clinton, I think that policy was used excessively and abused in some respects," Romney said as he held up a packet of papers. "And as governor I had a very similar power associated with clemency related to pardons and commutations in people in our system and I put together this series of guidelines."

Romney went on to stress the importance of not issuing pardons on a "capricious and arbitrary basis" and his belief that victims' families be involved in the process.

"This is something which I think is important as we proceed and wish that during the Clinton years, policies of his nature had been promulgated and followed," Romney said.

When a reporter asked the governor whether he was comparing Huckabee to Clinton, Romney said that he was not. But the comparison seemed obvious.

Romney was in a sunny mood at the press conference, which took place after he spoke to a crowd of about 70 people in Bellevue. The former Massachusetts governor has been brimming with confidence over the past couple of days and has not been afraid to make a prediction about what will happen Thursday night (even though he says in the same sentence that he does not make predictions).

"I think I'm gonna win this," Romney told reporters.

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    Scott Conroy is a National Political Reporter for RealClearPolitics and a contributor for CBS News.