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Huckabee Airs Anti-Romney Ad After All

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Video from the press conference where Huckabee disavowed and then showed his anti-Romney ad.

Updated: 7:55 p.m. By John Solomon
The saga of Mike Huckabee's now infamous attack ad against Mitt Romney lives on. It turns out that the TV ad attacking Romney as "dishonest" -- which Huckabee vowed not to air -- actually ran three times in Iowa on New Year's Eve.

The ad-tracking agency Campaign Media Analysis Group said it confirmed airings of the ad after lunchtime in Davenport, another at dinnertime in Cedar Rapids and the last during a 9 p.m. newscast in Davenport.

A spokeswoman for the Huckabee campaign said that the former Arkansas governor had ordered the ad pulled before his press conference, and that the campaign alerted every broadcast and cable system in the state. "It was New Year's Eve and we knew that a few stations might not be able to make the change prior to January 1st holiday. We were informed yesterday that unfortunately a few network affiliates played the ad. We contacted them immediately and they admitted to our buyer that they mistakenly aired ad, and they pulled it," said spokeswoman Kirsten Fedewa.

The Romney camp pounced on the revelation. "Governor Huckabee pulled a stunt that didn't fool the media or the Iowa people," Romney spokesman Matt Rhoades said. "The more Governor Huckabee's record has been exposed, the more nasty and negative his campaign has gotten. It's the height of hypocrisy that in the end his ad would still run on the air."

The on-again-off-again TV ad has been at the center of one of the oddest events in the closing days of the Iowa caucuses.

After days of withering attacks against him by Romney, Huckabee took a day off the campaign trail Sunday to fly to Arkansas and film a counter-attack ad accusing Romney of distorting his record. The 30-second ad was prepared for release in Iowa the next day.

But then Huckabee held a news conference in Des Moines on Monday during which he pledged not to air the ad as planned to avoid alienating Iowa voters. As soon as he made the pledge he proceeded to show the spot to reporters while cameras were rolling.

By doing so, Huckabee got the ad played on national television, and it was subsequently posted online, allowing it to get extensive airtime without costing his campaign any money. The effort generated some backlash, as Huckabee was accused of trying to backhandedly attack Romney while claiming to take the high road.

According to the tracking agency, the ad aired at 12:59 p.m. Monday on WHBF in Davenport, at 5:09 p.m. on KCRG in Cedar Rapids and at 9:20 p.m. on KLJB in Davenport.

By Washington Post editors  |  January 3, 2008; 7:55 PM ET
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