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ELECTION 2008 | Huckabee Accepted Speaking Fees From Groups That Support Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Access to EC

ELECTION 2008 | Huckabee Accepted Speaking Fees From Groups That Support Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Access to EC
[Jan. 2, 2008]

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, in 2006 accepted $52,000 in speaking fees from groups that support issues he opposes, including human embryonic stem cell research and expanded access to emergency contraception, The Politico reports.

Huckabee received a total of $35,000 from Novo Nordisk, a biotechnology company that conducts embryonic stem cell research. The company in May also announced it was giving away 35,000 Spanish-language copies of Huckabee's book, "Quit Digging Your Grave With a Knife and Fork: A 12-Stop Program To End Bad Habits and Begin a Healthy Lifestyle." Huckabee also received $13,000 in speaking fees from the Public Health Institute, which works on a range of public health issues including expanding access to EC, The Politico reports.

Huckabee spokesperson Kristen Fedewa said that Huckabee "isn't afraid to speak to people who don't agree with his message or personal philosophy," adding that Huckabee sticks to "limited, focused and nonpolitical" topics, including "preventive health care or similar issues." Novo Nordisk spokesperson Sean Clements said the company and Huckabee "share the same passion for changing diabetes for the nearly 21 million Americans with the disease." PHI did not respond to requests for comment.

Bill Lauderback, executive vice president of the American Conservative Union, said, "It raises questions as to [Huckabee's] philosophical positions ... if he is accepting very lucrative speaking fees from special interest groups who have a markedly different perspective on certain social issues from what he is projecting as a candidate" (Vogel, The Politico, 12/28/07).

Huckabee Pulls Ad Criticizing Romney on Abortion, Other Issues

In related news, Huckabee on Monday during a news conference said that he will not run an advertisement his campaign created that criticizes former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who also is running for the Republican nomination, the New York Times reports. Huckabee showed the ad, which suggests Romney is not a true conservative, to reporters, according to the Times. The ad says, "Over $700 million in new taxes. Left office with a deficit. No executions. Supported gun control. And Romney's government-mandated health plan provided a $50 co-pay for abortion" (Seelye, New York Times, 1/1). Romney's campaign in an e-mail sent to reporters said that the copayment was a "court-imposed requirement from many years ago" and that Romney could not have issued a line-item veto on it (Conroy, "From The Road," CBS News, 12/31/07).

Massachusetts' state-run and subsidized health care program, Commonwealth Care, includes coverage for abortion services. Romney spokesperson Kevin Madden has said that under state law, if Massachusetts is funding health care benefits, it cannot refuse abortion coverage. Romney's campaign also has noted that the Commonwealth Care package is administered by an independent public authority whose decisions were made separately from the Romney administration. As governor, Romney appointed some of the board's members (Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 12/13/07).

Huckabee said, "We are now committed from now through the rest of the caucuses that we will run only ads that talk about why I should be president, and not why Mitt Romney should not" (Sidoti, AP/Google.com, 12/31/07). Huckabee added that unless he showed the ad to reporters, they would not have believed it existed. Romney said, "On the one hand [Huckabee] wants to run a positive campaign, and on the other hand he shows a negative campaign ad and hopes that people promote it and provide it to the public through the earned media" (New York Times, 1/1).

Huckabee on Saturday responded to a question from a C-SPAN viewer about his Novo Nordisk speech (C-SPAN, 12/29/07). Video of the segment is available online.

Huckabee on Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" also made comments in support of criminal penalties for doctors who perform abortions (Russert, "Meet the Press," NBC, 12/30/07). Video of the complete program is available online. A transcript of the complete program also is available online.