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The Big Stumble?

Mike Huckabee held a press conference in Des Moines to announce that he is pulling an ad that his campaign was prepared to unleash against Mitt Romney. Then he played the ad for the reporters gathered.

Per Mark Halperin of Time, here is a partial transcript:

NARRATOR: Romney’s record– over $700 million in new taxes. Left office with a deficit. No executions. Supported gun control. And Romney’s government-mandated health plan provided a $50 copay for abortion.

HUCKABEE: If a man’s dishonest to obtain a job, he’ll be dishonest on the job. Iowans deserve better.

Harsh.

Journalists immediately suspected a ploy to gain a lot of free media time for the ad from Huckabee’s underfunded campaign.

“Well, you can be cynical about this…but if we hadn’t shown the ad, you would have said we didn’t make it.”

Writes Joe Klein of Time, “That sound you hear rumbling out of Des Moines appears to be a monumental implosion.”

Huckabee explained at the press conference, according to CBS News, “We prepared it, sent it to the stations, supposed to start running at noon today. This morning, I ordered my staff to pull the ad; I told them I do not want it to be run. If it was run at all, it would be until the stations pulled it off their schedules. And we are now committed, from now through the rest of the caucuses, that we will run only the ads that talk about why I should be president, and not why Mitt Romney should not.”

“I know that some are up saying, well did you really have an ad? Well, I’m going to show you the ad. You’ll get the chance to find out,” he continued as the room erupted in laughter.

The full ad here.

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