Huckabee criticizes Perry’s Social Security talk, says Romney is ‘most electable’

Holly Bailey
The Ticket

Mike Huckabee has made no secret of the fact he's not a big fan of his former GOP rival Mitt Romney, with whom he clashed repeatedly during his bid for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

But in what could be a plus for Romney, the former Arkansas governor apparently holds an even bigger political grudge against Rick Perry, who he says is not as "electable" as Romney in 2012.

In an interview with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, Huckabee criticized Perry for his blunt talk on Social Security--suggesting that even if what Perry's saying is "technically true," it will eventually hurt him in the general election. Speaking about Tim Pawlenty's decision to endorse Romney earlier Monday, he called Romney "the most electable Republican" in the field—even as he noted there were other "great" candidates in the race.

"Perry hurt himself a lot with his Social Security talk. And what he said may be technically true, but you go to South Florida or even any part of Florida or even the part where I live in the panhandle where you have a lot of retired people and essentially say that Social Security is a criminal enterprise, that's problematic," Huckabee told Ingraham. "Rick likes to sort of come across as the straight-shootin,' blunt talking guy and that works very well in Texas, and it will work very well in what I call the hardcare center of the Republican primary. But when you have to branch out and get to those younger voters and general election voters, I'm not sure how it's going to play out."

Huckabee also suggested that Perry's similarities, both physically and politically, to former President George W. Bush gives Democrats "an opportunity" in 2012 and will be "front and center" to any Democratic strategy against Perry, whether the comparisons are "fair or not."

You can listen to Huckabee's full comments here, courtesy The Laura Ingraham Show:

This isn't the first time Huckabee has taken a shot at Perry. As The Ticket previously reported, the former Arkansas governor trashed Perry in an email to his supporters in July, questioning his conservative principals.

"For all his new found commitment to hyper-conservatism, he'll get to explain why he supported pro-abortion, pro-same sex marriage Rudy Guiliani last time," Huckabee wrote.

Their bad blood apparently dates back to the 2008 campaign, when Huckabee was publicly irked that Perry endorsed Giuliani and then John McCain in the GOP primary.

But Huckabee hasn't been kind to Romney either. Among other things, he has repeatedly criticized the health care plan Romney passed as governor of Massachusetts—suggesting he should apologize for the bill. Huckabee has also questioned Romney's conservative credentials and in 2008 suggested the ex-governor would do and say anything to to win the primary.

As the 2012 primary heats up, Huckabee  has been cagey about when—or if—he will endorse in the race. On Monday, he told Ingraham he "had not come to a conclusion of endorsing anyone" yet. But while he didn't name names, he hinted that he is willing to back someone with whom he doesn't entirely agree.

"I want us to win," Huckabee said. "Of course, I'd love to win with someone who thinks like I think, believes like I believe 100 percent. That's not going to happen. So I've got to figure out where our best shot is."