Mike Huckabee is disavowing calls being made to Iowa voters that promote him and criticize Huckabee's Republican presidential campaign opponents.
Huckabee said Monday he had gotten several reports from voters saying they are annoyed with the calls, known as a push poll, which appear to start out as an independent polling survey, but then turn toward criticism of one candidate over another.
"I just want everyone to know we have nothing to do with it and I wish whoever this is would stop because I don’t want this kind of campaigning on my behalf. It is not helpful to me, it violates the spirit of the kind of campaign I want to run," Huckabee told a caller during a guest spot on the Jan Mickelson radio show, based out of Des Moines, Iowa.
"Maybe someone thinks they are trying to help me or maybe they are trying to hurt me by making it look like they are trying to help me. I don’t know because I don’t know who is doing it but it is not helpful, it is not approved, I repudiate it and I would ask it to stop because I don’t want to become president because I disabled the other candidates. I want to become president because people agree with ideas we have got," Huckabee said.
As it turns out, the push polling is being conducted by an independent group run by a former top aide at the National Republican Senatorial Committee and funded in part by a group of retired Procter & Gamble executives in Ohio, the Politico reported Monday.
The group, which runs the "TrustHuckabee" Web site, is part of Common Sense Issues, a non-profit group dedicated to "educating and informing citizens in an in-depth manner about public policy issues."
The organization is led by Patrick Davis, a Colorado-based political consultant who served as political director of the NRSC in 2004. Davis confirmed to Politico that the group launched the automated phone calls on Sunday and plans to continue doing so despite Huckabee's protests.
"The people who would be upset learning more about a candidate's true positions are those that are in that candidate’s camp already," Davis said, adding that his group also wants to recruit precinct captains to draw Iowans to the caucuses and possibly create television and radio ads on Huckabee's behalf.
“It helps our candidate by driving compatriots that are favorable to Mike Huckabee to the caucuses,” Davis said. “It’s capacity-building.”
Davis stressed to Politico that his group is "completely independent" of Huckabee's Arkansas-based campaign. It is being financed in part by Harold “Zeke” Swift, a retired executive at Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble, who declined to state his involvement in Trust Huckabee to Politico, but who co-hosted a fundraiser for Huckabee and is known to be involved in Common Sense Issues.
According to a Huckabee questioner, he got a call from an individual who tried to tear down the voter's apparent support for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by asking the voter if knowing more about Romney's positions on abortion and immigration could possibly change his mind about the candidate.