Sunday, January 20, 2008


Before the recent Iowa caucuses, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, had prepared a television advertisement critical of fellow candidate Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts. It was ostensibly a response to Romney "attack ads" that had criticized Huckabee.

Immediately before the caucuses, however, Huckabee held a press conference at which he announced that he would not match his opponent's negative campaigning. He was not going to sling mud, he said.

Then, as an example of what he wasn't going to do, he showed his "attack ad" to the assembled press.

The ad was, of course, extensively reported in the media and was widely viewed on the Internet, presumably by many Iowans.

Do you think that showing the ad to the press was a fair way for Huckabee to make his point? Or do you, like Neal C. White, a reader from Atlanta, think that Huckabee's actions may have been unethical?

Post your thoughts here by clicking on "comments" or "post a comment" below. Please include your name, hometown, and state, province, or country. Readers' comments may appear in an upcoming column. Or e-mail your comments to me at

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business (Smith Kerr, 2006), is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of The Right Thing, a Web log focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to or to "The Right Thing," The New York Times Syndicate, 500 Seventh Avenue, 8th floor, New York, NY 10018. Please remember to tell me who you are, where you're from, as well as where you read the column.

c.2008 The New York Times Syndicate (Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate)


Anonymous said...

Do Huckabee and his handlers think we're all idiots? This was not only obvious, but clumsily obvious. "Look how superior I am! I'm not going to show you THIS!" I hope it backfires as this holier-than-thou candidate deserves. If he had actually made an ethical decision not to show the ad, he simply wouldn't have shown it - and wouldn't have let it become an issue. As it is, he apparently reasoned that he could get credit for being ethical while dissing his opponent at the same time. A plague on both their houses!

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that a candidate for the presidency should set the tone for his campaign early on by making it clear that he/she is going to take the high road in campaign ads. Maybe “rising above it all” doesn’t work in hard-bitten campaigns where so much is at stake and the opposition is going negative, but in a more instantly-informed society, I think voters look at negative ads, well, negatively. In fact, those ads incline many of the undecided to vote for the target of the attack.

Since Mike Huckabee is a minister, for crying out loud, this “pushing the edges of ethics” diminishes him considerably, in my opinion.


Anonymous said...

Huckabee is as slick as another former Governor of Arkansas. It's insulting to the voters and the media naturally jumps for the bait. Ethical is not a
word easily used in political situations.