Mike Huckabee said he would strike Pakistan in the case of an 'imminent threat'.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) – Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said Saturday he would take military action inside Pakistan's borders if there were an "imminent" terrorist threat within the country.
"We need to make sure we are clear that if we have an actionable target in Pakistan, that we will take action on that target because if that helps save and preserve American people, that's the foremost thing we need to be worried about," Huckabee said at a campaign event in Columbia.
"We need to remember that the next terrorist attack will most likely be postmarked Pakistan," he said. "I mean, that's where we will likely see the origins of a terrorist attack, given Osama bin Laden's whereabouts."
Huckabee's comments are similar to those of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, who came under fire in August for saying at a speech, "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf will not act, we will."
Several of Obama's Democratic rivals, as well as Republican candidates John McCain and Mitt Romney, criticized Obama's Pakistan comments at the time, suggesting that using force within Pakistan could jeopardize the United States' relationship with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who remains a key U.S. ally in the Middle East despite the recent turmoil in the country.
Asked by CNN if such actions might violate Pakistan's sovereignty under international law, Huckabee said U.S. national security would take precedent.
"The sovereignty of the United States is the single most important sovereignty the American president has to deal with, and the safety of the American people," Huckabee said. "And certainly we would like to have the cooperation of Pakistan, and I think we should have it and will have it."
"But if there is an imminent threat to the American people, then I think it is the responsibility of a president of this country to do whatever he has to do to protect you me and the rest of us standing here today."
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- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby