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Monday, December 17, 2007

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, surging in the polls for the GOP presidential nomination, faced criticism by two rivals yesterday.

Fred D. Thompson, a former senator from Tennessee, said, "Liberal is the only word that comes to mind, when he was governor."

On CBS's "Face the Nation," Thompson criticized Huckabee for his positions on illegal immigration, tax policy and Cuba, and for his belief that the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, should be shut down.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney criticized Huckabee for a recent Foreign Affairs article in which he called the Bush administration's foreign policy "arrogant."

"Mike Huckabee owes the president an apology," Romney said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"I think he needs to read the article. It would really help if he would do that. Because if he did, he would see that there's no apology necessary to the president," Huckabee responded on CNN's "Late Edition."

"I'm the one who actually supported the president's surge" in Iraq, Huckabee said, going on to mention issues -- tax cuts, gun control, abortion -- on which he said he was with the president while Romney wasn't.

EDWARDS AND THE ENDORSEMENT: John Edwards faced questions about the Des Moines Register's endorsement of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) in the Democratic presidential race, four years after the influential newspaper endorsed Edwards's first campaign for president.

"This a different race, with different candidates. We too seldom saw the 'positive, optimistic' campaign [from Edwards] we found appealing in 2004," the editorial read. "His harsh anti-corporate rhetoric would make it difficult to work with the business community to forge change."

"I just think they're wrong," Edwards retorted on "Face the Nation." ". . . I think you work with the business community to forge change. If that were effective, we'd already have changed."

He listed a litany of issues -- the lack of universal health care, inaction on global warming, and unfair trade and tax policies, among others -- that he said result from a failure to rein in big corporations.

CIA TAPES: The top Republican on the House intelligence committee said his panel intends to defy a Justice Department request to stand aside during an investigation into the destruction of CIA tapes documenting the use of severe interrogation techniques against terrorism suspects.

Rep. Peter Hoekstra (Mich.) added that the committee is likely to issue subpoenas in the matter. "I think what we're going to do is we want to hold the community accountable for what's happened with these tapes," Hoekstra said on "Fox News Sunday."

Rep. Jane Harman (Calif.), formerly the ranking Democrat on the committee, said on Fox, "The House Intelligence Committee wants to get to the bottom of this and isn't going to back off for the attorney general here, who I think, as I said, may be doing something that won't give the public confidence that it was a full and fair investigation."

Harman, however, wasn't willing to endorse the idea of a special counsel investigation yet. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, went that far and further.

"There are criminal charges that are likely to flow, and it means -- and no one knows how high up this goes," he said on CNN. ". . . I don't have confidence in the president. I don't have confidence in the vice president. And I don't have confidence in the Justice Department. That's as simple as I can put it."

By Zachary A. Goldfarb

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