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The Sunday shows: Open season on Huckabee

November 25, 2007 |  1:14 pm

On Sunday morning, it was open season on Baptist minister-turned-presidential contender Mike Huckabee, who has surged to second among Republican candidates in the Iowa polls. Leading the onslaught was former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, whose campaign released no fewer than six e-mail statements denouncing Huckabee before the first National Football League games started at 10 a.m. PST (an important deadline for campaigns seeking to make news on the Lord’s day -- Republicans like their football).

Thompson, whose candidacy has failed to consolidate the support of social conservatives who are now moving to Huckabee, attacked on multiple fronts: taxation (Huckabee raised taxes while governor of Arkansas), immigration (Huckabee supported keeping illegal immigrants and their children eligible for college scholarships) and abortion.

That last issue provided ...

the hardest-to-follow twist. Huckabee has criticized Thompson’s lack of support for a constitutional amendment banning abortion. Thompson has argued that such an amendment is unlikely to pass. Instead, he argues for the overturning of Roe v. Wade to give states the ability to restrict abortion as they see fit.

In a heated exchange with "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace, Thompson set out his position this way: States that currently must keep abortion legal because of Roe v. Wade "could place restrictions on abortion that they can’t do now" because of the decision.

"I mean, you'd be making substantial progress," Thompson said. "Ultimately, do I think a state ultimately has to have the right to maybe do something that I would disagree with? If you can't carry the ball in those states, yes. Yes. There's no question. We live in a democratic society. But if we can't carry the argument, if we can't win the argument, which I think that we are winning nationwide now, we can never pass a constitutional amendment anyway."

Huckabee, appearing on CNN’s "Late Edition," ignored Thompson's remarks, but he showed he could dish it out as well as take it. Confronted by host Wolf Blitzer with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s charge that Huckabee is "a liberal," the former Arkansas governor called Romney a flip-flopper.

"He has been all over the board," Huckabee said, "but my conservatism has been consistent: When he was pro-abortion, I was still pro-life and always have been. When he was for gun control, I was against it. When he was against the Bush tax cuts, I was for them."

-- Joe Mathews