Huckabee Clarifies: I Hate Romney, Not Mormons

During the Republican primary, many Mitt Romney supporters came to resent Mike Huckabee for promoting “a religious test for office” by highlighting his Christian faith in order to raise questions about Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith and thereby secure the support of anti-Mormon voters.

The effort did not go unnoticed by Mormons in Utah who came to loathe him and now he is trying to make amends, telling Utah radio host David Wright that he has nothing but love for Mormons:

When “11 words were completely misconstrued” when spoken about the LDS religion in a long New York Times profile of him, Huckabee said he “immediately” apologized publicly to Romney and church members in general.

Huckabee said there is no religious test in running for office. “I defend Mormons running for office.”

He said when he saw the backlash against the LDS Church following the bitter Proposition 8 race in California last November, he was one of the first to say “I was gratified and proud” to see the church stand up for what it believes in.

Saying he may visit Utah soon, he added: “It pains me” that some people think he has said “bad things” about the LDS Church. “It simply is not true.”

Utahns’ “misinformation (about him) were part of the presidential campaign — and I wrote my book (to set the record straight) because that is totally not who I am. Utah is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and I want to go there and not have eggs and rotten vegetables thrown at me.”

But, of course, he still hates Romney:

Huckabee admitted that he saw a “different Romney” than the man he knew as a fellow GOP governor. (Romney served one term as governor of Massachusetts.)

During the presidential primary campaign Romney “was not the Mitt I knew,” Huckabee said. “You could ask all the guys” who ran in the GOP primaries, said Huckabee, and they would agree that backstage, in public debates and campaigning, Romney acted differently than when he was governor or otherwise out of an intra-party race.

Huckabee said that Romney’s “attitude and atmosphere” around him was perhaps caused because “he was surrounded by people who gave him very bad advice” during Romney’s presidential run.

“Boy, do I ever know” that he is not well-liked in Utah, said Huckabee. But, he added, “I have never said anything unkind about Mormons.”

Of course, back when he was running, he and his allies where quick to assert that any attack on him was really an attack on his Christian faith, but apparently Huckabee’s own attacks on Romney and insinuations about Romney’s faith were in no way to be conceived as attacks on Mormonism.

Huckabee’s mantra seems to be “hate the Mormon, love the Mormons.”