Wednesday's edition of ABC's World News hyped the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll finding a dramatic rise in Iowa for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, rising to a near-tie with Mitt Romney, 28 to 24 percent. After noticing that Huckabee attacked Romney as a pseudo-conservative, Tapper challenged Huckabee from the right on taxes and on illegal aliens. When he asked about tuition breaks for illegals, Huckabee sounded like Hillary on the issue: "If you're government at the federal level is so incompetent that it fails to secure the border, you don't then grind your heel into the face of a 6-year-old child over it."
Tapper said "Huckabee appeals to socially conservative evangelicals because he is one. And he cultivates an affable image." But the remarks Tapper quoted weren't affable. They were like that "heel to the face" imagery. Here's the meatiest part of the transcript:
JAKE TAPPER: Good evening, Charlie. Well, having made big gains among evangelicals, conservatives, abortion opponents and weekly churchgoers, Mike Huckabee is vying for first place in Iowa with Mitt Romney. And Huckabee's rise is indicative of the fact that this Republican nomination race is still very much up for grabs.With a veiled dig at Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee says he's not surprised by his rising popularity among Iowa Republicans.
MIKE HUCKABEE: They believe what I'm telling them to be true, true to my own heart and convictions, that I'm not just saying something that a focus group gave me or a room full of consultants handed me in a forum to say this stuff. People will buy it.
TAPPER: Romney is not sitting still. Today in Iowa City, he attacked Huckabee's fiscal record.
MITT ROMNEY: He raised taxes in his state.
TAPPER: As governor of Arkansas from 1996 until this year, Huckabee oversaw a net tax increase.
TAPPER (to Huckabee): The fact that you supported tax increases in Arkansas is gonna be an issue.
MIKE HUCKABEE: The fact that I managed government effectively is the most important issue.
TAPPER: Romney also criticized Huckabee's record on illegal immigration.
ROMNEY: I, for instance, said no to giving tuition breaks to the children of illegal aliens, and he said yes. I think that's a problem.
TAPPER (to Huckabee): Weren't you enabling that?
HUCKABEE: If you're government at the federal level is so incompetent that it fails to secure the border, you don't then grind your heel into the face of a 6-year-old child over it.