Jan. 2, 2008 -- Mike Huckabee says he has no idea how the attack ad he has disavowed got out and is now being played all over the Internet and on cable TV.
Huckabee, who will cap his Iowa campaign with an appearance tonight on Jay Leno's show, says he pulled the ad attacking rival Mitt Romney at the last minute because he decided to "change the tone," to "not run a negative campaign" unlike the one he says Romney is running against him.
"Mitt Romney has unleashed unbelievable attack ads against me, against John McCain, before that Rudy Giuliani. … Iowa people are sick of it," Huckabee told "Good Morning America."
Huckabee, who is leading the GOP field in Thursday's Iowa caucus, said his anti-Romney offensive could have gotten a lot meaner.
"If we'd have stayed with it, we would have exposed some things about his [Mitt Romney's] record that, frankly, [I] think would have probably made a difference here in these last days," he said.
Huckabee took some heat, however, for first disavowing his own attack ad — and then showing it to reporters.
"If I hadn't done it, the same media would have said, 'Oh, you don't have one [a negative ad],' and we didn't give them DVDs. … We said, no, we're not going to do that."
Asked how the tape had gotten released, Huckabee said, "I don't know how it got out there."
Despite past gaffs in foreign policy, Huckabee sought to sound both moderate and informed this morning.
He denied seeing Iraq as one element in a larger religious war and said he saw the current terrorist threat as something that grew out of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s and 1960s. "If people go back to the writer Sayd Qutb in 1962, you see where the major influence of people like Osama Bin Laden comes from."
"This is in fact a holy war on the part of the jihadist. This does not represent all of the Islamic faith. It represents a radical portion of it. That's why it's so dangerous because there's no mollifying of the radical jihadist," he said.
John Edwards, who is in a three-way battle for the Democratic lead, was also on "GMA" this morning from a 5 a.m. pancake breakfast in Centerville, Iowa, and pressed a revised position on Iraq — arguing for a full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, including troops training the Iraqi army and police.
"The threshold question in Iraq is what are we going to do to shift the responsibility to Sunni and Shia leadership to reach a political solution. There's no military solution in Iraq. To do that, we have to end the military occupation in Iraq. That means for me is getting all troops out of Iraq, ending all combat missions in Iraq and no military bases in Iraq," he said.
Edwards says the shift in his Iraq policy "has nothing to do with politics."
In 2004, the senator finished second in the Iowa with 32 percent of the vote. This time Edwards has spent 85 days in Iowa though, compared to just 64 days four years ago, and in TV ads alone he has spent $2.7 million, almost twice what he spent in 2004.
"We have plenty of money. Money's not the issue. … This is not going to be an auction. It's going to be an election. And, in fact, Sen. [Hillary] Clinton and Sen. [Barack] Obama have spent way more money in Iowa than I have," he said.