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Ron Paul On Offense Against Huckabee

Republican presidential hopeful former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and US Representative of Texas and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul.
AP / CBS
Two former Republican legislators from Mike Huckabee's home state are in Iowa this week criticizing Huckabee's record on immigration and taxes on trips paid for by Ron Paul, a Huckabee Republican presidential rival.

Paul's campaign said Thursday it was paying former state Sen. Jim Holt and former state Rep. Randy Minton about $5,000 each to go to Iowa for a series of radio interviews criticizing Huckabee's 10½ years as Arkansas governor.

"We just want to make sure Iowans get the full picture of what Governor Huckabee did when he was in office," said Paul's campaign spokesman, Jesse Benton. "There hasn't been a whole lot of information going out to Iowans and we want to make sure they get the full picture."

To counter the criticism, Huckabee brought in a group of longtime Arkansas supporters to defend his record.

Holt, who ran unsuccessfully for Arkansas lieutenant governor last year, has tangled publicly with Huckabee over immigration. Huckabee, a Southern Baptist preacher, spoke out against Holt's proposal in 2005 to ban state services to illegal immigrants and said "I drink a different kind of Jesus juice."

That same year, Holt opposed Huckabee's unsuccessful effort to make children of illegal immigrants eligible for state-funded scholarships and in-state tuition to Arkansas colleges.

Holt, who said he hasn't settled on a candidate for president, said he was called by Paul's Iowa field director last week. He'll be in Iowa through Saturday.

Asked why he was contacted, Holt said in a telephone interview, "If you do a Google search, you can see the 'Jesus juice' quote anywhere."

Holt has been talking about Huckabee's stances on immigration, and his record on taxes and spending.

"He campaigned in Arkansas to the right and governed to the left," Holt said.

Huckabee has vaulted to the top of the Republican presidential field in Iowa, but still faces some skepticism among Republican lawmakers in his home state.

Huckabee singled out Minton - who has been critical of Huckabee's record in Arkansas - by name last month in a letter to Arkansas Republicans that asked for their support and their help advocating on his behalf.

On Thursday, he relied on a group of longtime supporters to tout his conservative credentials in Iowa.

"We want to let you know that he is a strong, solid conservative and he has not changed," said Anne Britton, who heads the Arkansas chapter of the National Rifle Association. She argued that Huckabee has long backed gun rights.

Huckabee spokeswoman Alice Stewart said the campaign brought in the Arkansas supporters in anticipation of Holt and Minton's visit.

"It's unfortunate that people are resorting to those types of tactics," she said. "We're focusing on getting a positive Huckabee message out there and making sure people know about his record."

Benton said Paul does not plan to bring in additional surrogates to campaign against Huckabee or any other candidate.

As he's gained in the polls in Iowa and nationally, Huckabee has faced criticism from rivals Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson but not from Paul. In a debate in September, Huckabee and Paul sparred over U.S. involvement in Iraq. Paul has made a pullout of troops the centerpiece of his campaign.

"Even if we lose elections, we should not lose our honor," Huckabee told Paul during that debate in New Hampshire. "And that is more important than the Republican Party."