September 6th, 2007
09:19 AM ET
10 years ago

Huckabee and Paul tussle on Iraq

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee took on Rep. Ron Paul over the Iraq war during Wednesday's debate.

(CNN) - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee made a dramatic statement regarding Iraq at Wednesday night's GOP presidential debate, declaring, "We bought it because we broke it."

The comment came in perhaps the most compelling moment of the Republican debate when the Arkansas Republican directly confronted Texas Rep. Ron Paul on his position for an immediate withdrawal from the country.

"Congressman, whether or not we should have gone to Iraq is a discussion for historians, but we're there. We bought it because we broke it," he said. "We've got a responsibility to the honor of this country and the honor of every man and woman who has served in Iraq and our military to not leave them with anything less than the honor they deserve."

Amid loud cheers, Paul responded, "The American people didn't go in. A few people advising this administration, a small number of people called the neoconservatives, hijacked our foreign policy. They are responsible, not the American people."

Huckabee quickly fired back: "Congressman, we are one nation. We can't be divided. We have to be one nation under God. That means if we make a mistake, we make it as a single country."

As the crowd roared louder, Paul answered, "When we make a mistake, it is the obligation of the people - through their representatives - to correct the mistake, not continue the mistake. We have dug a hole for ourselves and we have dug a hole for our party. We are losing elections, and we are going down next year if we don't change it."

Huckabee replied loudly, "Even if we lose elections, we should not lose our honor."

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: Iraq • Mike Huckabee • New Hampshire • Ron Paul
soundoff (476 Responses)
  1. James Baker, Las Vegas, Nevada

    Where is the honor in continuing a failed policy? Is it honorable to sacrifice 3,000 more American dead in order to preserve the legacy of the 3,000 already fallen? I think Gov. Huckabee has confused the concept of honor with the state of denial.

    September 6, 2007 04:25 am at 4:25 am |
  2. Anonymous

    After Huckabee said, "Even if we lose elections, we should not lose our honor." what was Ron Paul's response?

    September 6, 2007 04:26 am at 4:26 am |
  3. vivek,jersey city, nj

    from a debate skill stand point i think both were even. but from truth and wisdom stand point again Paul wins. Paul doesn't get enough credit from media as he deserves . only the liberal media like daily show and bill maher are giving him time.

    September 6, 2007 04:37 am at 4:37 am |
  4. Yann, Hong Kong, China

    Once again, showmanship and hollywood one-liners triumph over reason and common-sense!

    September 6, 2007 04:39 am at 4:39 am |
  5. Chris, Gainesville, FL

    In my opinion, this article appears to be bias in Huckabee's favor. Ron Paul had roaring applause as well, made good counter points, and stood his ground well. This article makes it seem like Huckabee crushed him. That simply is not true. I dare you to post this comment.

    September 6, 2007 04:42 am at 4:42 am |
  6. John M, Houston, TX

    Hey Mooney, finish the rest of the exchange between them.

    Huckabee: Even if we lose elections, we should not lose our honor.

    Paul: We have lost over 5000 Americans over there...What do we have to pay to save face? It is all about saving face.

    Paul is spot on here. Honor? We have to finish for honor? Like Korea and Vietnam? Absurd..

    September 6, 2007 04:42 am at 4:42 am |
  7. citizen, usa

    The exchange didn't end with Huckabee calling for honor to prevail no matter what happens or how bad it gets. Paul actually had the final word, CNN seems to have left that out though.

    Paul said what's been lost in these wars are 5,000 of our soldiers. He called to end the war and said the administration caused this mess and are trying to save face by needlessly staying in Iraq.

    September 6, 2007 04:42 am at 4:42 am |
  8. Brian A. Springville, UT

    Losing with "honor" (saving face) is more important than the lives of our soldiers?

    Ron Paul pointed this out, but the news report cuts out this most important point.

    September 6, 2007 04:45 am at 4:45 am |
  9. AnaHadWolves, Philadelphia, PA, USA

    The open-mindedness on the Iraq situation, as espoused by Ron Paul, is a refreshingly candid admission that that mess is, indeed, a mess.

    Mike Huckabee's "stay-the-course" rhetoric, marching in locked goose-step over the cliff, is precisely what George Bush, the captain of this sinking ship of state, says: "Do something important; re-arrange the deck-chairs!" Totally dissociative behavior.

    How nice to hear at least one Republican who refuses to drink the party Kool-Aid.

    September 6, 2007 04:57 am at 4:57 am |
  10. Daniel, Dunnellon, FL

    Ron Paul has stated the truth, and it's incredable to think the GOP wouldn't support him more than they do now. Huckabee is hooting about honor while American soldiers are dying right now, tonight, and Ron Paul wants the madness to stop. I say we go with Ron on this one, folks.

    September 6, 2007 05:02 am at 5:02 am |
  11. Anonymous

    You can talk about honor all you want, but that doesn't change the fact that getting the hell out of Iraq will be the most effective method of getting the Iraqis to put a government together and get on trading terms with them.

    September 6, 2007 05:04 am at 5:04 am |
  12. Tammy, Scottsdale, AZ

    This is a misrepresentation of the full exchange. There were just as many applause for Paul after his statements. I see it as Ron Paul winning, not Huckabee.

    Our men and women are dying along with thousands upon thousands of Iraqis because we're afriad to admit when we're wrong? There is no honor in that.

    September 6, 2007 06:08 am at 6:08 am |
  13. Cheryl Ohio

    How big a price tag do we pay for "breaking" Iraq? I believe we fulfilled our mission as soon as Saddam was dead and the Iraqi's got their purple fingers. It's time for the Iraqi's to take responsibility for their own freedom and making their elected officials accountable now.

    September 6, 2007 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  14. Brian

    Ron Paul won the argument, the debate and has outclassed his counterparts throughout this campaign season. If only our complicit mainstream media wasn't centered on the "top tier" candidates whom are solely given the limelight. Candidates such as Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul and Mike Gravel are slighted and dismissed in the media for no good reason other than corporate interest. Fox News showed their stripes Wednesday night in New Hampshire, mocking Ron Paul, in an immature nature (Rudy Guiliani cackling also). The elections and democratic process have been hijacked by the mainstream media. After Paul won the text poll (for the 2nd time on Fox News following a debate) Sean Hannity dismissed it and moved on, it didn't fit his interests. That's some objective reporting. Why slight a viable and popular candidate such as Ron Paul. Fox News should be ashamed of their actions but they are not, this is their dispicble style of presenting themselves as a so called "news" outfit.

    September 6, 2007 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  15. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    Here we go again,another theocrat spouting off with their old battle cry "one nation under god."Huckabee is a subversive,anti-democratic traitor.His goal is to overthrow our government and anyone who supports him should face treason charges.If you want a theocracy move to Iran where they already have it.Leave our nation alone!

    September 6, 2007 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  16. Jim

    Honor? This a word that politicans use without the ability of comprehending what it means, as a former Republican, Honor was lost a long time ago. Honor does not mean continue on at all cost, it means finding those responsible and holding them accountable regardless the cost.

    September 6, 2007 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  17. Bill

    The "just get out now" mantra ignores just how impossibly complicated an immediate withdrawal would be. The immediate exit supporters describe themselves, in most matters, as humanitarians –but they express little regard for the abandoned fate of millions of Iraqis who are ordinary peace seeking families. America cannot now abandon this helpless population. Mass genocide would almost certainly follow. There is no pleasant solution to this quandry, but we have no choice but to work toward stabilizing Iraq. There is really no other compassionate way forward.

    September 6, 2007 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
  18. painted Post, Ny

    Is honor the killing of over 600,000 civilian's; is honor the rape of a 13 years old girl and then killing her parents and 5 year old sister? Is daily rape, murder and theft honor?

    A Nation did not make a mistake. Irresposible politicians and a runaway military made a mistake. A racist conservative minority made a mistake.

    Honor, what about justice? What about the rule of law. This sounds a lot like supremist views couched in the respectability of the republican party.

    September 6, 2007 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  19. Ben, Elkhart, IN

    Ron Paul makes cogent arguments against a failed foreign policy, and Huckabee responds with flowery emotional catchphrases. "Honor!" There is no honor in continuing an illegal war started over false information. "United! Under God!" Yeah, those are words the Right loves, but the Right also loves common sense, and that is the reason, Mr. Huckabee, why Ron Paul absolutely destroyed you in the post-debate polls.

    September 6, 2007 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  20. chuck rowland Orlando, fl

    Huckabee says we cant be divided?..That is exactly what we are ..this man lives in la la land ..and all the loud cheering is predictable from a crowd like that..they are all quick to cheer when somebody elses kids go gte killed for "honor" ..what a joke..

    September 6, 2007 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  21. Ken Brentwood, NH

    As far as the US actions in Iraq, I think the US lost their honor a long time ago. Where is the honor in torturing prisoners, murdering and raping civilians, and lying to the public about why the war was necessary? An apology to the Iraq people and the world would show real honor. How about holding our own leaders responsible for being so incompetent? That would be an honorable act. Attacking Iraq was a collosial mistake. Now we have to live with it? Why should soldiers and civilians keep dying simply so the US gov't can try to savage their honor? Let the US politicians go to Iraq to train the gov't so they can meet their benchmarks. Then their would be no reason to stay. Oh, yea there is still oil in Iraq. Nevermind... I agree with any candidate that has the courage to say it is time to leave. Regardless of what happens in Iraq,I highly doubt that historians will describe the event as honorable. Please bring back our troops.

    September 6, 2007 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  22. John, Peoria IL

    Ron Paul did great. Unlike the others he is not afraid to debate and spoke with passion, he did a great job answering questions that fox tried made him look bad with. I can't believe fox news was so rude to him, even if you don't agree with his view that does not give them an excuse to try to marginalize him.

    September 6, 2007 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  23. F.S.K. Seattle, WA

    FINALLY!! I am a democrat, but that was amazing. It is nice to see that they have stepped out of pointing fingers into something we as a nation can support. We realize, as a nation, that something has to be done; but prolonging it and making it worse isn't the answer, however, neither is immediate withdrawal. I could support this candidate, he is making more sense than either...let's just see if his money is where his mouth is...that will be the real test.

    September 6, 2007 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  24. Anonymous


    It's clear Republicans are still all about the buzzwords. The honor Huckabee speaks of is really called "pride." Republicans have thrust America into the greatest mistake since Vietnam and keep us there to save face. They will lose in 2008 if their strategy is to remain in Iraq until their amorphous "mission" is accomplished.

    September 6, 2007 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  25. Lori, Lee, NH

    Interesting that this story doesn't note how the crowded roared equally as loud after Ron Paul's answers during this exchange. And he was the overwhelming favorite throughout the night. Why? Because he's is an intelligent, logical thinker who doesn't pander to special interests. You want your country back? Vote for Ron Paul.

    September 6, 2007 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
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