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New Huckabee ad appeals to Christian conservatives

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  • Christian fish symbol appears in Mike Huckabee commercial
  • Republican presidential hopeful discusses "pro-life" position in ad
  • Huckabee denies suggestion that cross was intentionally part of Christmas ad
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By Rebecca Sinderbrand
CNN Washington bureau
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- For the second time in two weeks, presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee has aired a commercial in which a Christian symbol appears in the background.

An ichthys, an ancient Christian symbol, appears in a new Mike Huckabee commercial.

In the campaign ad, Huckabee is addressing members of the Iowa Christian Alliance, an organization whose symbol is the ichthys, which appears on a banner shown prominently at the open and close of the 30-second spot.

The ICA is an influential social conservative organization in Iowa, and Huckabee can be seen speaking about his opposition to abortion before the group.

The ichthys, which resembles a fish, is well-known in evangelical circles as the symbol used by early Christians to secretly identify one another without attracting persecution.

The Huckabee campaign unveiled this ad and another on its campaign Web site Monday afternoon, hours after the former Arkansas governor reversed course and decided against airing a negative campaign commercial targeting rival Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts.

"Our Values" is airing in Iowa, while "Tax Cuts Matter" is airing in New Hampshire, according to the campaign.

"The purpose of these ads is to highlight the things that truly matter -- while underscoring my conservative record of leadership and my vision for America moving forward," Huckabee said in a news release Tuesday announcing the ads. "As we enter the closing days of the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, there are a lot of things being said on television and sent to mailboxes across the Hawkeye State. I urge Iowans to look beyond the rhetoric and seek the truth about my record and optimistic plans for our nation's future."

Iowa will hold the first presidential nominating contest Thursday, and evangelical conservatives are an important voting bloc in the caucuses. Fiscal conservatives play an influential role in the Republican primary in New Hampshire, which will take place next week.

"The pro-life position was the one espoused by our founding fathers when they said that all of us are created equal, endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights," Huckabee says in the ad. "The first one they listed was life. Nobody has a greater level of intrinsic worth or value than another person. Being unborn doesn't make you less valuable.

"Maybe instead of having our values trampled all over every single day and night, we would express to America what those values are: Family, life, freedom. Those things matter to us -- always have, always will."

A Huckabee spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

In late December, Huckabee dismissed suggestions he was trying to send a subliminal message to Christian voters in a campaign commercial that appeared to show a cross floating behind him. The cross was an outline of a shelf.

"Actually I will confess this, if you play this spot backwards it says 'Paul is Dead, Paul is Dead, Paul is Dead,' " the presidential candidate joked to reporters. "So the next thing you know, someone will be playing it backwards to find out the subliminal messages that are really there." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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