The first negative TV ad of the cycle comes out with Mitt Romney attacking Mike Huckabee’s immigration position. The commentariat and the Huckabee campaign have responded pretty sharply.
Jonathan Martin called it "Mitt desperation".
First, it attempts to blur any differences between Romney and Huckabee on issues of importance to social conservative voters by noting that both men are pro-life and favor traditional marriage … Quickly segues into another issue of real import to conservatives — illegal immigration — and seeks to show how Romney fought benefits for illegals in Massachusetts while Huckabee backed proposals for in-state tuition and even scholarships for illegal immigrants in Arkansas. … Why is he doing it? The ad amounts to an acknowledgment by Romney that his once-wide lead in Iowa has evaporated. Being the first candidate to go negative is always a risky strategy, but it’s clear that the Romney campaign believes they have no choice in the matter.
It means their internal polls confirm what the public polls are saying. …
The decision to run this ad is not universally popular within Romney’s campaign, judging from some early e-mail traffic.
And the Huckabee campaign responds with the endorsement of an anti-immigrant hero:
Mike Huckabee, under fire for some of his immigration stands while governor of Arkansas, picked up an endorsement in Council Bluffs, Iowa, from the ultimate illegal immigration opponent: Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project, the group that has roamed the border for the last several years operating effectively as an independent border patrol.