OSCEOLA, Iowa Republican Mike Huckabee on Saturday denounced political attack ads, saying people aren't looking for a president whose campaign is based on what's wrong with someone else.
Huckabee said people want a president who will tell them what he would do if elected. He criticized attack ads aimed at him, saying, "If I believed half of that stuff, I wouldn't vote for myself."
He said ads by rival Mitt Romney show the problem with the former Massachusetts governor's campaign.
"Mitt doesn't have anything to stand on except to stand against," Huckabee told a crowd of less than 100 people at Boyt Harness Co., a hunting accessory business in Osceola.
Huckabee used his appearance at the store to take a swipe at Romney's earlier claim that he was a lifelong hunter, only to later concede he'd done most of his hunting for "small varmints" and didn't have a gun or a hunting license.
"You are not going to hear me making up stuff about my biography," Huckabee said. "I don't go around saying I was lifelong golfer because I once rode in a golf cart when I was 8 years old."
Huckabee said Americans want a president who will be truthful and consistent in his stands.
"You're not going to hear me say something different about the sanctity of life than I did 10 years ago," Huckabee said, referring to Romney's change in position on abortion rights. Although Huckabee has long been opposed to abortion, Romney had earlier supported abortion rights.
Countering, Romney spokesman Tim Albrecht said: "Campaigns are about big issues, and while Governor Romney is for lower taxes, strong enforcement of immigration laws, Mike Huckabee has a troubling penchant for more taxes and more spending while looking the other way on the issue of illegal immigration."
Huckabee also denounced criticism by rivals and interest groups about tax increases he supported as governor of Arkansas, noting that he also had reduced taxes.
"I cut 98 taxes," he said.
Huckabee refuted criticism of his record on clemency requests. He didn't reject all such requests but considered each one and ultimately approved only a relatively small percentage, he said.
"I had 8,700 requests. I denied 90 percent of them," he said. "Some may not have turned out the way I hoped, but most did."
On Friday, Romney launched a hard-hitting ad in Iowa criticizing Huckabee on foreign policy and spending.
"Who is ready to make tough decisions? Mike Huckabee? Soft on government spending," the Romney ad says. It also portrays Huckabee as weak on immigration and crime and quotes President Bush's secretary of state: "His foreign policy? 'Ludicrous,' says Condoleezza Rice."
Huckabee said his success in Iowa shows that the political tides may be turning in a state where he said he has been outspent 20 to 1 by Romney.
"If we win, it would be of seismic proportions on the political scale," he said. "It won't be about money. It will be about what you believe."