Huckabee: Romney 'arrogant and presumptuous'

February 3, 2008 8:09:11 PM PST
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday...Those who couldn't make the Monster Truck rally today or the fights last night, there's always the spectacle of politics. Today on CNN's "Late Edition," while suggesting that "everybody has every right to stay in this race to the very end," Mitt Romney also suggested that, since John McCain and he "came in number one and number two, very close, and he (Mike Huckabee) came in a distant fourth...most people around the country have said, 'OK, it's been narrowed to a two-person race.'"

He also suggested that, as long as Huckabee is in the race, he takes more votes away from him, not from McCain. "We split the more conservative side of the party. Sen. McCain is able to combine the more liberal side of our party." He added, "I would never suggest to Mike Huckabee that he get out. That's for him to decide."

But in Macon, Ga., Huckabee -- clearly itchin' for a fight -- said Romney had suggested "that maybe I should pull out of the race."

Per ABC News' Kevin "Chupkabee" Chupka, Huckabee said, "I thought it was pretty arrogant and presumptuous the other night for him to suggest that, if Ronald Reagan were voting, that he'd be voting for Mitt Romney, and even more arrogant and presumptuous for him to assume that, if people were not voting for me, that they'd be voting for him, and the idea that my voters would go to him is nonsense.

"My voters are voting for me because I have a consistent pro-life record, he doesn't. They are voting for me because I'm strong on the 2nd amendment, and he isn't. ... My voters aren't people who would necessarily gravitate to him, so he needs me to stay in this race, because quite frankly, I'm not sure he's going to get many of the voters who vote for me."

Huckabee added, "For him to suggest that I need to drop out of the race, almost makes it sound like he thinks I'm some troubled company that he can buy and sell, like he did at Bain Capitol. I want to make it real clear he may think he can buy the election, but he doesn't got enough money to buy me, and he certainly doesn't have enough money to do a leveraged buy-out out of my campaign. All he's doing is firing me up and getting me more determined, and I think he's fired up my supporters more than anything has."

He also said that "Mr. Romney has spent about a $100 million to have basically the same number of delegates as I have, and I've spent about 7 million. You know, with the business background he has, you'd think by this point, with his Harvard-educated MBA, he'd come to the conclusion that he's not selling his soap very well, if it takes that kind of money to have no more market share than I've got for about a fifteenth of the expenditure. So, I've got a suggestion, Mr. Romney, rather than me drop out, why don't you give it up, and go back to Boston!"

Hoots and hollers! The crowd clapped and laughed and whooped it up.

(Of course ... Romney didn't suggest that Huckabee drop out. But no matter...)

Per ABC News' ace cub reporter Matt Stuart, Romney, this evening in St. Louis, was asked about Huckabee's comments.

"I don't have any particular reaction to that," Romney said. "It sounds a little extreme, I think, at this stage. He's a fine person. I never suggest anybody get out of the race. That's their own decision."