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Romney Slams Huckabee Over Clemencies

December 4, 2009

Appearing on CNNs “Larry King Live,” former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney lashed out at former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee for granting clemency to Maurice Clemmons. Clemmons was found guilty of armed robbery and other violence crimes. Although prosecutors and Clemmons’ victims urged Huckabee not to pardon him, the governor did so nonetheless: a major and unforgivable mistake, because he shot and killed four police officers this last Sunday, while they were enjoying their coffee break.

Huckabee has been rightly criticized for his clemency of Clemmons (and other criminals) by many conservatives, including us at David Horowitz’s NewsRealblog. Leading Republicans stayed away from ClemencyGate, however, opting to let Huckabee commit political suicide by refusing to take responsibility for his actions and for their consequences. Until today, that is. Because today, Romney became the first politician with a shot at the GOP’s presidential nomination in 2012, to (indirectly) criticize ‘the Huckster’; who just so happened to be one of his main rivals for the party’s nomination last year. It’s a sign that favorites for 2012 believe that Huckabee can forget about challenging President Barack Obama three years from now.

When asked about Huckabee’s decision to commute Clemmons’ sentence, Romney said that he undoubtedly wouldn’t have done so, knowing then, what he knows now. As Hot Air’s AllahPundit points out, that’s as safe an answer as they come.

The question is whether he was right to have commuted it at the time based on the facts available.

And the answer to that question? Well, Huckabee’s answer is clearly ‘yes.’ But Romney’s? Here’s what he told King:

My conclusion was, if somebody has been convicted by a jury of their peers, and they’ve been prosecuted and the police were able to get the evidence necessary to put them behind bars, why in the world would I step in and reverse that sentence?

He couldn’t have worded it clearer, without declaring all out war on the former Arkansas governor with the strange habit of pardoning dangerous psychopaths.

Since Romney is one of the absolute favorites for 2012, the above is sign that he believes that Huckabee is dead meat. After all, attacking Huckabee when he’s most vulnerable will undoubtedly turn him into your worst political enemy. He’ll want to take revenge. Smart politicians – and Romney certainly is one of them – know that and won’t take the risk of igniting a dirty war three years before elections for president take place; they’re normally too concerned with creating alliances and political friends at this point in time.

My conclusion: it’s time to write off Huckabee for once and for all. Let’s move on and focus on people who are actually conservative and not just in the social conservative kind of way.

Embedded video from CNN Video

  1. Marylou permalink
    December 4, 2009 4:09 pm

    Romney lost me with his health care fiasco and this is the final nail in the coffin. I am saddened about this because he seemed to be the only one on the horizon who had any practical business success.

    I am saddened when someone has to show how very superior they are to someone else. I think we should give Huckabee a break, at least that is after I learned more of the salient facts from Huckabee’s response….given the situation he saw at that time. (I agree is was a nasty call.) It’s easy enough to say what we would do now!! Give me a break.

    Can we ever be unified? How will we regain control of the Republican party with these kinds of low-life maneuvers? Come on, folks!! Let’s dress it up a little.

    I had already been glad to write Huckabee off but just wanted to comment on this disappointing conduct on the part of Romney.

    • Paul Cooper permalink
      December 4, 2009 9:40 pm

      I’m with you MaryLou.

    • Dr. Wayne Smith permalink
      December 5, 2009 7:21 am

      I’m with Marylou, and will add this: Apparently the writer of the article LIED about the situation by saying that Huckabee “pardoned” Clemmons. I believe the correct term is “commuted” the sentence – a whole different ballgame. Huckabee did not turn Clemmons loose – only made him eligible for parole. Now, who can’t understand the distinction?

  2. December 4, 2009 4:27 pm

    It seemed to me that he was being pretty gracious considering the context of the interview and the situation at hand. That quote where Romney talks about why he wouldn’t dare reverse the decision was said after line of questioning concerning Romney’s record on Clemency…which is zero.

    I think saying he “Lashed out” on Huckabee is pretty disingenuous at best. And to be “saddened” because of this is to be fooled by the verbal wizardry of this fine blogger. Let’s keep our focus here. Romney’s a great speaker, getting better everyday, smarter on every single issue than any of the other potential contenders for 2012, and a pretty great conservative thinker – concerned with fiscal responsibility and family values.

    Mass. Healthcare, as it exists right now, is less Romney and more Democratic tinkering over the past 6 years in that State.

  3. David Forsmark permalink
    December 4, 2009 4:28 pm

    Huckabee, a Baptist preacher, took it upon himself to personally deliver mercy at an unconscionable rate. Clemmons was one of about 1,000. Someone who is willing to put his judgment over that of 1,000 juries, judges or prosecutors has a problem with separation of powers that should concern everyone.

  4. James permalink
    December 4, 2009 5:14 pm

    Mary Lou:

    Do you remember the “Jedi Mind Trick” from Star Wars? The headline from this article was created as a similar device to divide Huckabee supporters and Romney supporters.

    Romney did NOT slam Huckabee. He repeated what Huckabee said he would have done if he could go back. Larry King asked Romney about HIS experience when he was a Governor. Romney told it like it was for him.

    Romney was not the first to criticize Huckabee. In fact, Romney DIDN’T criticize Huckabee. However, Tim Pawlenty, was indeed the FIRST Republican to criticize Huckabee over this scandal.

    The media wants to keep fueling the Romney hate among Huckabee supporters. They don’t want ANY Republican to gain momentum.

    Like Romney said, Mike Huckabee is a good man. His chances for 2012 have diminished however.

    Romney is a good man too and we can safely say, without criticism, that Romney was tough on crime, much more than Mike Huckabee.

  5. M.P. O'Neal permalink
    December 4, 2009 5:20 pm

    The author couldn’t have been clearer himself in saying: “He (Romney) couldn’t have worded it clearer, without declaring all out war on the former Arkansas governor with the strange habit of pardoning dangerous psychopaths.

    I can’t tell if Marylou likes or doesn’t like Romeney, or Huckabee, or whomever. At one time Huckabee desearves a break, but he was to be apparently “written off” at a a later time? His was a “nasty call” but Romney’s being “superior” to question it after the fact? Can we be unified and dress it up?…

    I think David is spot on here. Huckabee was way too liberal with his commutations, clemencies, pardons and all the rest. Born of Baptist sympathies or not, this is bad govermental and political judgement.

    Huckabee can and should stay an active and prominent member of the Republican “big tent”; but he need not be our standard bearer nor our candidate in 2012. His own political clemency stubbornly bestowed during the end game of the 2008 primary most likely cost Romney the nomination, but also all of us the general election. All things considered, I think Romney was more than “dressed up”, he was gracious.

  6. Carterthewriter permalink
    December 4, 2009 6:29 pm

    We. we have a year to sort out these jokers who point at one another, rather than deal with the present problems the Republican Party. Two, down, already.

    New blood is what we need, not bleeders.

    • Rifle77 permalink
      December 4, 2009 8:12 pm

      Well….I won’t refer to Romney and Huckabee as jokers.

      But I wholeheartedly agree that the best approach to the 2012 election is an entirely new face.

      Every single 2008 GOP contender represents a huge improvement over Barack Obama. Unfortunatley, every one of them….Palin, Romney and now Mike Huckabee…offer the leftwing media a target-rich environment, and another bloodbath primary does the GOP nominee no good whatsoever.

      I am not at all impressed with Tim Pawlenty, who IMO is a lightweight. And his AND Romney’s potshots at Huckabee after a tragedy of THAT magnitude were absolutely deplorable. There were a dozen different ways to deflect that question, which Larry King quite honestly should be ashamed for even asking.

      As for Sarah Palin, she is a rockstar….and I believe that Americans will be “rockstarred out” by Obama’s nonsense. And the leftwing media will continue to savage her

      No….I agree the GOP needs an entirely new face who is reliably conservative, and comes into the process without ANY of the scars that this current field of hopefuls have.

      I am taking a long look at John Thune, the Senator from South Dakota.

      Thune is a solid conservative who knocked off Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and sits on the Armed Services Committee and Senate committees dealing with Commerce and Small Business.

      He could be the perfect candidate to thread the needle with all segments of the GOP and boot Barack Obama’s rearend out of the White House.

      • Carterthewriter permalink
        December 5, 2009 8:13 am

        Thanks for clarifying my comment. We shall review what comments follow.

  7. Chris Lacks permalink
    December 4, 2009 7:26 pm

    It is garbage articles and responses like the ones above that I can’t even help but to lean towards and root for Huckabee. I sure hope he runs now in 2012!

  8. December 4, 2009 8:11 pm

    Boy, if I followed my ’08 primaries correctly I’m pretty sure Mitt Romney IS Mike Huckabee’s sworn enemy!

    I really didn’t think Romney went ape on Huckabee at all. He was controlled and even seemed gracious in comparison to what he could have done in view of all the inane attacks that Governor Huckabee made during the last go round.

  9. Susan permalink
    December 4, 2009 8:42 pm

    In my opinion from other articles I read, Romney was very gracious about the questions asked in regards to Huckabee. This article seems very twisted and not factual.

  10. Paul Cooper permalink
    December 4, 2009 9:39 pm

    Romney is not a real conservative by any definition. Huckabee DID NOT reverse the sentence. I thought we weren’t supporting candidates at NewsReal? This is a little too Pro-Romney for my taste. Let’s not forget that Obama’s tried to model socialized medicine off of what Rom did in Mass. I’ll take a guy who made a few mistakes on clemency over a socialized medicine guy who ran on the state level as massively pro-abortion any day. I’m glad we got a couple more years to work out who will be running in 2012.

    • F. Swemson permalink
      December 5, 2009 9:19 pm

      One of the other things that makes me nervous about Romney, is the fact that he just wants it so badly..

      Anyone who craves power to that degree, is by definition, someone who can’t be trusted….

  11. paul permalink
    December 5, 2009 5:03 am

    Thus the end of Huckabees political career….

  12. donnamarie permalink
    December 5, 2009 5:07 am

    I guess Romney was pretty clear with his message. However, it really does not matter. Huckabee is done whether Romney criticizes him or not. Think Dukakis-can you even imagine the anti-Huckabee commercials during the presidential campaign. This is definitely fodder for Willie Hortonesque like fall-out. There have been many apologists for Huckabee over this but they need to move on to other hopefuls.

  13. Freeme permalink
    December 5, 2009 5:09 am

    TO; Michael van der Galien, AUTHOR of this article.

    Hate to break it to you buddy, but your reporting is amiss and NOT factual!
    Huckabee took responsibility for ‘commuting sentence’ IMMEDIATELY on MM reports in addition to the emails sent out from his website regarding this matter. They may even be on Face book or Twitter, but i’m not a subscriber, so you can check it out…he is not hiding from this story.

    There is more to this story that you and others like to conveniently ‘overlook’… as the heat has left Palin’s kitchen for a hot second but now focusing on burning Huckabee.

    On the other hand…Romney has the audacity to ridicule Huckabee?…from a man who enslaved MASSACHUSETTS with a healthcare plan that is breaking their backs! ? MA is the closest Commie State we have in the USA, and he contributed. So he needs to shut his pie hole and swallow his useless rhetoric.

    • cdt permalink
      December 5, 2009 12:20 pm

      Taking responsibility for something and explaining away a situation by spreading blame and downplaying your own role are two very different things. On the other hand, who’s the one spewing useless rhetoric? You seem very comfortable with your own ability in that regard.

  14. theconservative permalink
    December 5, 2009 7:08 am

    Both of them have a right to express their opinions and tell us where they stand. I , personally, agree with Romney on this. I’m tired of seeing people tried and convicted and then getting out early. It must be so frustrating for those who worked to convict to see them out early…….and the police who have worked hard to get them,… well………… I thank God they don’t just quit. Thank you all !!!

  15. Roger Cole permalink
    December 5, 2009 7:22 am

    The article doesn’t mention that all Huckabee did was to reduce Clemmons’ sentence to a mere 47 years. What it does say is that he pardoned him, which he definitely did not. I happen to believe that habitual violent criminals should all be locked up for ever (at least), however the article should stick to the truth. As it is, it is transparently just a van der Galien smear job on behalf of the insipient Romney campaign and thefore is without credibility. Romney, by the way, will never be president. There is something too shallow, too superficial about the man and his record as governor is not a great basis on which to run either.

  16. Listening permalink
    December 5, 2009 8:00 am

    Just as Huckabee is not to blame in the Clemmons case, Romney is not to blame for what happened in Massachusetts with health care these last 6 years; but sadly those who do not like either Huckabee or Romney will twist the facts on both of these gentlemen so neither will probably have a shot in 2012. When will we all wake up, do our homework, and make informed decisions? Stop playing whisper down the lane with information.

  17. Carterthewriter permalink
    December 5, 2009 8:21 am

    The process is moving forward to find a suitable candidate that will uphold constitutional values, not someone who bends to satisfy special interests.

    Those who follow blindly one candidate without questioning his/her past decisions polute this process.

  18. Prudent Man, CFA permalink
    December 5, 2009 8:23 am

    A bit soon to be unnecessarily making Christian conservative enemies. As Romney is one of the most capable persons to lead the country, which is probably why the corrupt RNC and his own advisers stabbed him in the back, he should let the Left be the political hit men. Especially since he is not good at it morally or temperamentally.

    By inculcating himself into an issue he could have easily evaded and which offered no upside tells me that he has a lot of work to do in organizing an effective campaign which this time should not include any who held positions of power (some such as Fox’s closet establishment liberal Nina Easton’s husband who tried to moved to the Obama camp) in his 2008 campaign which was ineffectively organized and managed. Romney has the Executive Acumen to oversee this so he should vet his advisers more closely employing only those who are passionately committed to him in every way not just for a pay check or job.

    As the Republican National Committee is controlled by the Limousine Liberal Establishment a successful candidate will have to clean out that mess of losers from the top to bottom. Palin has already laid down her markers by naming names and stating her values and priorities which appear to being well accepted by the middle class voters.

    For those of us who worked for the Barry Goldwater Campaign we are tuned to the Schadenfreude of the Corrupt Republican Eastern Establishment and its opposition to a competitive Congressional Term Limit Resolution, ignorance of Free Enterprise as opposed to Crony Capitalism, disdain for a Constitution Balanced Budget Amendment and lives big off of the largess bestowed upon the elites by a Wall Street that profits from increasing government debt. If Gingrich would have stuck to his “Contract With America” instead of his personal appetites we would be a safer, more solvent country today.

    The biggest political problem the Conservatives have is not the Left. It is the RNC. Betrayal is when those who hold themselves out to be your friend and supporter and actually have self-interests damaging you.

    We Social Libertarian/Fiscal & Security Conservatives should be cleaning up the RNC now as it is irrelevant, divisive and costly. As much as I respect RRR I never bought into his “Never speak badly about another Republican” theory. That may have worked then but not in the technological advances of the 21st century. It must be my fifty years working with the thieves on Wall Street with their Ivy League degrees peddling fraud to pension funds(Madoff is the rule not the exception)that has fed my cynicism of style over substance.

    Bad apples ruin the barrel and the RNC has too many bad apples in positions of authority and power. The remarkable thing is how GWB won two elections while his Dad, Dole and McCain got creamed. Could it be that he was a D.C. outsider among other assets?

  19. lwilson permalink
    December 5, 2009 11:23 am

    I only have one thing to say about Romney the “real conservative”

    • cdt permalink
      December 5, 2009 12:40 pm

      Nice video – you did extremely well in finding can anyone find the video of when Ronald Reagan was advocating abortion and other liberal policies?

      We’re never going to get another powerhouse conservative president like Reagan if we hold everything that anyone’s ever said against them. 1994 was almost 15 years ago – people are dynamic, and they change and grow. If Romney’s actually admitted that his position has changed because of experiences that he’s had, and has expressed regret over these statements, and then has lead well as Governor for 4 years as well as worked tirelessly to fight for conservative candidates who’ll preserve our rights and liberties, I think he’s showing progress, not progressive-ism. Oh, and also, Romney’s pretty good on the economy too.

  20. December 5, 2009 1:03 pm

    This article is full of false information. Huckabee did not reverse Clemmons’ sentence. The prosecutors did not oppose huckabee reducing the sentence from 108 to 45 years. Huckabee did not free him. A parole board did. When he went back to prison huckabee again did not free him. Prosecutors failed to file proper work for three years and he was freed as a result. Furthermore, one major paper after the other is looking at the facts of this and determining Huckabee did nothing wrong. All catalogued here:
    lastly, as long as we are blaming people for deaths, what about the THOUSANDS of innocent babies that have died due to Romney’s liberal abortion policies?

    • cdt permalink
      December 5, 2009 1:17 pm

      You’re mis-guided, or a liar. Romney’s never had any affect on any abortion policy but one while he was Governor, and he vetoed an abortion bill – that’s right – he voted against abortion. You slam the author for false information, but then you falsify information in your own response. Is that Hypocrisy?

  21. December 5, 2009 3:06 pm

    as long as we are blaming people for deaths, what about the THOUSANDS of innocent babies that have died due to Romney’s liberal abortion policies?


    The last feeling Southern state Baptist type we had was Jimma Carter. There’s a massive amount government that needs to be cut back because it hasn’t been touched since Reagan. If we have any hope of having “liberty” actually mean something in this country again, the next Presidential candidate should be the one that runs with a chainsaw in his hand. Neither Huck or Romney are that person.

  22. alvinels permalink
    December 5, 2009 9:20 pm

    Huckabee is done. There is nothing conservative about the Huckster, and this country needs a conservative.

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