November 27th, 2007
06:42 AM ET
7 years ago

McCain: Huckabee's Pakistan comments 'totally unnecessary'

McCain said Huckabee's comments could damage relations with Pakistan.

LEXINGTON, South Carolina (CNN) – Sen. John McCain condemned Mike Huckabee Monday for saying that, as president, he would strike at terrorists inside Pakistan's borders with or without permission from the country's leadership.

McCain called Huckabee's comments naïve and said the former Arkansas governor lacks military experience needed to lead.

"I certainly wouldn't telegraph my punches," McCain told CNN after a campaign stop here.

"I will always do what's necessary to preserve America's national security, but to say something like that is totally unnecessary and probably has a not beneficial effect on our Pakistani allies who are fighting against al Qaeda and with us in Pakistan."

On Saturday in South Carolina, Huckabee said if there was an "imminent threat" inside Pakistan, he would take military action there, even if it meant violating Pakistan's sovereignty under international law.

"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," Huckabee said. "That's the foremost thing we need to be worried about."

Sen. Barack Obama made similar comments about Pakistan in August, which McCain criticized at the time as irresponsible, as did several of Obama's Democratic rivals.

Still, minutes earlier in his campaign speech at a barbecue joint, McCain promised the audience that as president he would capture or kill Osama bin Laden, and that he would take whatever measures necessary to do so.

"I promise I will get him, but I'm certainly not going to tell him how," he told reporters after speech, asked about his promise to get bin Laden. "It'd be naïve for me to tell you. That’s again an example of a lack of military experience. You never tell our enemy what you're going to do ahead of time. If you do that then you restrict your capability to do something. That’s 101 at West Point."

During his speech, McCain said he would prefer to work with Pakistan's embattled President Pervez Musharraf "before I throw Musharraf over the side" and said that before Musharraf, Pakistan was a "failed state" under former Prime Ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, both of whom recently returned from exile.

The senator from Arizona called Musharraf "a good man" who "has fallen prey to what happens to a lot of people, which is he thinks he is indispensable." He compared Musharraf to the shah of Iran before the 1979 revolution, suggesting that whatever Musharraf's downsides may be as a leader, they are outweighed by the fact that he brought relative stability to the country when he took power in 1999.

Musharraf's aides said Monday he will retire as chief of Pakistan's army this week in advance of the country's looming elections, a move McCain said would be a positive step.

– CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby


Filed under: John McCain • Mike Huckabee • South Carolina
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. thank you ,la.

    HUCKABEE DROP THE BOMB ,DO IT NOW!!

    November 26, 2007 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  2. Jeremy, Seattle WA

    Lovely side-view of McCain you have there, CNN. I can see all the thinning hair, choked, bulging thick neck lines, and gross-out dotted skin lesions this 71(!)-year-old hoss has on his head. Nevermind written articles, you could decide the fate of the presidency merely through pictures!

    November 26, 2007 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  3. ThirstyJon

    So... McCain would not attack within Pakistan if there were an "imminent threat?" I hope he would. "Imminent Threat" sounds pretty bad to me.

    It sounds like Huckabee is definitely one of the front runners now, judging by the weird stuff people are trying to come up with about him. Makes me want to take an even closer look at him as a potential President.

    I am still undecided.

    ThirstyJon

    November 27, 2007 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  4. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    "On Saturday in South Carolina, Huckabee said if there was an "imminent threat" inside Pakistan, he would take military action there, even if it meant violating Pakistan's sovereignty under international law."

    *********

    Great: Another Christian Cowboy with a total distain for international law ... please – not again!! Ever notice the most religious of people are the most war-like... yuck!

    November 27, 2007 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  5. Surrealist, Fort Myers, FL

    On this I agree!! Huckleberry demonstrates a "knee-jerk" response sometimes. Frankly, I hope our next President is more thoughtful touting foreign policy initiatives, and a lot more nondescript with regard to our possible military engagements. A cowboy gunslinger attitude may work well in Texas politics–but not for the leader of the most influential nation on earth.

    November 27, 2007 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  6. Better choices in 2008 Please!

    Great another politician who wants to fight in everyones backyard. Who would the bully be in this case?

    November 27, 2007 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  7. roger, conway sc

    Looks like McCain is just taking over on judging & handing out his advise on his GOP brothers...I am proud to be a DEM.....

    November 27, 2007 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  8. Barry, Harrisburg, PA

    Huckabee's foreign policy sounds Bush league to me. Eight years of cowboy diplomacy is enough. Lets get someone in the oval office who isn't an amateur. Joe Biden anyone?

    November 27, 2007 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  9. Wayne, Greenville TX

    Funny – I think John McCain and Mike Huckabee are BOTH totally unnceessary.

    November 27, 2007 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  10. Brad, Stockton, CA

    Go home John, you should have retired years ago.

    November 27, 2007 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  11. Ru B., NH

    And what military experience do you have to tout other than the only piece you drag into the news over and over: that you were a POW. I'm certainly not knocking that it was a tough and ugly experience, but it doesn't make one fit for C-N-C.

    I second the thought. Go home, John. I'm sure your mom will make cookies and serve you milk with them.

    November 27, 2007 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  12. Jose Card

    The same people that criticized the invasion of Iraq before are now attacking Senator McCain for respecting Pakistan's sovereignty. He is the best candidate for commanding our forces. Senator Obama and Governor Huckabee need some serious tutoring from Senator McCain.

    Also, my president cannot be against the theory of evolution. It doesn't matter what party, race or gender he or she is from.

    November 27, 2007 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  13. Steve (2 time Iraq Vet), Charlotte NC

    Great script... When does the movie come out??? Let's worry about the problems we *have* right now (no shortage of them around...) and let Hollywood play around with the fancy "What If" scenarios. They do a better job of it than either of these two could.

    Here is something I really care about–my health insurance went up 10% for 2008. That is something I feel every two weeks. What will you do about that? How about the environment we are destroying, will the midwest be a dustbowl in 20 years? Will my kids still have a beautiful country to live in? And how are you going to make our cities safer so all citizens can walk around without fear? Call me crazy but I am MUCH more worried about these issues than a terrorist attack. These problems are far, far, more lethal to the average American, who will in all likelihood never be a victim of a terrorist attack! Yet this is what these politicians continue to talk about. Terrorism is big news and big business, community policing and environmental protection not so much. Makes me sick.

    November 27, 2007 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  14. Paul Thompson

    Unfortunately there is no law without order being established first. I agree with Governor Huckabee....we need to establish what our order/policy is going to be, so that those that have control of the law of their land will be motivated to do something about threats to the USA.

    November 27, 2007 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  15. AJ, IL

    McCain should have retired 4 years ago. At least Obama and Huckabee address the main issue surrounding Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Let me see, McCain is saying its naive to talk about getting Bin Laden when he is the same big-mouth politician that sung "BOMB BOMB BOMB, BOMB BOMB Iran!" If Bush were to "temporarily" end the US Constitution after the troop surge ended in Arpil 2008, would McCain call President Bush a "good man" like Mushareff?

    November 27, 2007 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  16. T. Tim, Lodi, WI

    John, Just as "totally unnecessary" as your foolish singing of "Bomb, bomb, bomb ... bomb, bomb
    Iran..."

    November 27, 2007 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  17. J. Stiles, Trenton, NJ

    Yeh, just as "totally unnecessary" as McCain idiotically singing "Bomb, bomb, bomb ...bomb,bomb Iran...!"

    November 27, 2007 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  18. Walt, Belton, TX

    John,
    Don't know anyone who didn't think huckabee's comments were stupid. He's not worth your time.

    November 27, 2007 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  19. Lisa, Temple,NH

    Rudy Guliani was too busy before 9-11 hiding the interests of Bernie Kerik who is now under federal indictment.He knew about his mafia connections and kickbacks.
    He was protecting his friend – a pedophile preist.
    He got kickbacks from the company that made defective radios that firemen had to use.
    He was seeing another women while married.
    No wonder he did not protect Americans before 9-11.
    And murder rates went up by over 3000 in 2001 alone while Guliani was the mayor of new york.

    November 27, 2007 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  20. Bob, Seattle

    McCain may be right about exposing your hand but sometimes a strong bluff may work wonders as well. McCain/Huckabee would be a dynamite ticket.

    November 27, 2007 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  21. Independent in IA

    Ah, Senator McCain, spoken like the total jerk you are. You'd not only telegraph your punch, you'd throw it like a weak-kneed sister.

    November 27, 2007 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  22. Ivan, Chicago, Illinois

    Huckabee, Romney [nor his five sons], and Giuliani are those who never faced combat nor the threat of combat are always talking about sending others into harms way.

    November 27, 2007 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    I am glad they are capturing so many of them lately- Troops doing wonderfull Job- God bless them all – God please keep them all safe from all harm and evil=Amen

    November 27, 2007 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  24. Steve (2 time Iraq Vet), Charlotte NC

    Great script… When does the movie come out??? Let's worry about the problems we *have* right now (no shortage of them around…) and let Hollywood play around with the fancy "What If" scenarios. They do a better job of it than either of these two could.

    Here is something I really care about–my health insurance went up 10% for 2008. That is something I feel every two weeks. What will you do about that? How about the environment we are destroying, will the midwest be a dustbowl in 20 years? Will my kids still have a beautiful country to live in? And how are you going to make our cities safer so all citizens can walk around without fear? Call me crazy but I am MUCH more worried about these issues than a terrorist attack. These problems are far, far, more lethal to the average American, who will in all likelihood never be a victim of a terrorist attack! Yet this is what these politicians continue to talk about. Terrorism is big news and big business, community policing and environmental protection not so much. Makes me sick.

    November 27, 2007 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  25. Kristy Sanborn

    To Lisa, temple NH, you are in NH and I am in Missouri, and you read my mind, LOL!! So sad what Guiliani did to America, New York is part of America, and this man wants to now lead America? For who? Bet you know that answer also, huh Lisa? Great posting of yours!!
    As for most of the other comments on here about what Mr. McCain said, just goes to prove most Americas can NOT stand the TRUTH.
    What goes on in this war on the ground, McCain is right about, or has no one read any of the interviews the Generals ON THE GROUND have given?
    ALL the ones I read, the Generals agree with McCain. For months now, but since most of America cannot stand the truth, then I won't say how stupid they are for refusing to believe our military leaders.

    November 27, 2007 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |