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. bret, atl, ga

    WHOSE honor?

    The honor of the politicians who made the incredibly disastrous choices?

    Or the honor of our sons and fathers, daughters and mothers who are dying in the desert on the other side of the world?

    Mr. Huckabee, you should be ashamed.

    September 6, 2007 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  2. Maria Mediavilla

    Ron Paul is by far the best presidential canidate. The war in Iraq is immoral and illegal. The neocons need to jump over the cliff or hang them!!!

    September 6, 2007 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  3. Ron, Nashville, Tennessee

    What Americans refuse to understand is that we over threw the Iraqi government and put in our own style of government. Would it be smooth transition if China over threw our government? And what did we learn from Viet Nam? Our government is too much under the control of political parties. We need to outlaw the function of all political parties after an election is over. Only then will our elected officials become less criminal in their decision making duties.

    September 6, 2007 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  4. Ernie Mann, Cooperstown, NY

    Mr. Huckabee fails to recognize that our "honor" was already lost when this specious, unnecessary, wasteful, and counterproductive war was pursued. We have been our own worst enemy in this. Strategic withdrawal to relieve and rebuild our troops while our thinking on foreign policy is given serious scrutiny doesn't seem unreasonable or unattainable to me.

    September 6, 2007 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  5. john, boonton nj

    Why is Ron Paul the ONLY republican candidate making sense? The man is an MD and far from the nut case the media and his own party portrys him to be.

    September 6, 2007 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  6. Bob, CT

    Gov Huckabee got it right. We went into Iraq and overthrew a two-bit dictator we became responsible for the results.
    The dimwits in the White House pushed out country into this war and divided our nation. If we do not honor our responsibility and fix the mess that our "so called leaders" made we WILL be fighting Islamic extremists in our own streets.

    By the way, I do not support this war. I just is want to end it the right way for all of us.

    September 6, 2007 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  7. JMC

    Huckabee's "honor over party" did not win the moment, thank goodness, when Paul reminded folks that ridiculous platitudes does not hide the fact that thousands of soldiers are DEAD because of the people in charge making the mistakes they did. So if we lose 10,000 soldiers, do we still hide behind the "honor" label? This isn't a John Wayne movie, this is real life, and our soldiers should not be sacrificed for such flip reasons as "if we leave we lose our honor" PLEASE!

    September 6, 2007 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  8. CTurner, Durham, NC

    Huckabee stood in front of a friendly audience and mouthed platitudes. Ron Paul stood in front of the same audience and spoke the truth. All credit to Paul for saying the things that, painful as it may be to some, needed to be said. Where's the honor in invading a country and killing its people?

    September 6, 2007 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  9. Bill, Alabama

    The Iraqis themselves have a responsibility for their country, and they do not have the ability to understand democracy with their ageless infighting. These people have no better understanding of how to run a country than the Republicans do this one.

    September 6, 2007 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  10. Tom, Cincinnati, OH

    This excerpt ends too early. That was NOT the completion of the exchange.

    "MR. HUCKABEE: Even if we lose elections, we should not lose our honor, and that is more important to the Republican Party.

    REP. PAUL: We’re losing - we’ve lost over - we have lost - we have lost 5,000 Americans killed in - we’ve lost over 5,000 Americans over there in Afghanistan and Iraq and plus the civilians killed. How many more do you want to lose? How long are we going to be there? How long - what do we have to pay to save face? That’s all we’re doing is saving face. It’s time we came home!"

    I cannot agree with a man who feels the 'honor of the Republican party' is more valuable than people's lives. Ron Paul clearly has correct priorities, while Huckabee would rather leave us all at war and in harm's way than admit the party made a mistake.

    September 6, 2007 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  11. Paul, Trenton-NJ

    Great exchange on points of view. Although I tend to agree more with Paul's point oof view, I think the advantage there goes to Huckabee.

    September 6, 2007 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  12. Fred, Sun Prairie, Wi

    We need to stay in Iraq to protect our "honor"!!! Is that all the Reps hve left as an argument?
    I would have asked him if he was willing for his son/daughter to die for that "honor" or just someone else's.
    If that's the only reason for being there, we should leave this afternoon.

    September 6, 2007 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  13. Steve Rhoades, Frazer, Pa

    Well Rep Ron Paul certainly has been elevated in my eyes. Finally someone has said it like it is. Huckabee has lost my respect, this "we" he refers to; how many of our governors, congtressmen and senators have family actually fighting this war?

    September 6, 2007 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  14. Richard, Zebulon, NC

    I fully agree with Mike Huckabee: we have to give the Iraqis a better place than it is now. He is right: we broke it, we bought it. Now, we must fix it. We cannot turn our backs and tuck our tails between our legs, and steal away in the night. It was a big mistake, but we have to find a way to repair what we have broken.

    September 6, 2007 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  15. Mary, Beaver, PA

    Yes, "honor" kept us in Vietnam a lot longer than was sensible too. It amazes me that the people who talk about "honor" are often not the ones who are facing the danger. As for the unity of the American people concerning the war in Iraq, there is none and there never was. Not all of us wanted to get into this war in the first place. Those of us who had clearer heads in this matter were shouted down by those who bought into Bush's blood lust and lies, remember? That being said, Huckabee was right to point out that "we bought it because we broke it." We are the ones who are responsible for destroying the Iraqis' government and infrastructure, so just who is morally responsible for putting them back together? Here's an idea: Why don't the ones who bought into the war in the first place volunteer their lives and their money to repair the damage they have done? Maybe they will then think twice before they march in goose-step behind the next Pied Piper in the White House.

    September 6, 2007 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  16. J , Boston MA

    haha republicans and honor in the same sentence?? hilarious

    September 6, 2007 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  17. jware

    haha the article makes it sound like huckabee won that exchange, and they didn't even mention ron paul's closing words. biased media crap

    September 6, 2007 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  18. Jon. Military Installation, South East Asia

    So we leave Iraq to go to Darfur? The US is no more prepared to handle that situation than we are Iraq. The same people who want us to pull out now will send us right back when the full scale genocide starts. Send me home that's fine; but you better not send me back.

    September 6, 2007 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  19. Herman Deweerd, Bedford, MA

    We cannot loose our honor because we have already lost it when we invaded that poor country.

    September 6, 2007 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  20. Duncan, Richmond, VA

    "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."

    That is the most idiotic thing I have read recently.

    The job in Iraq has been completed. The fact that they are fighting among themselves is their own problem now.

    September 6, 2007 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  21. Chris O, Boca Raton, Fl.

    Did anyone notice that fox news had Ron Paul winning the debate in real time by 20 %.


    September 6, 2007 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  22. Jason, Norfolk, VA

    A small group of neoconservatives did not vote to authorize the war, nearly the entire congress did so. Ron Paul is only popular because of the unpopularity of the war. He is shamelessly playing to the public opinion and I doubt that he will be able to do the right thing as president even when it is unpopular. Huckabee is right to say that it does not matter any more how or why we are where we are at, we just need to fix it. I think we will start to see US forces withdraw from the cities and provide border security to prevent weapons and foreign fighters from trying to destabilize the Iraqi government.

    September 6, 2007 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  23. John Bloomington Indiana

    Good for Ron Paul! The only true no-spin candidate. Too bad he hasn't a chance.

    September 6, 2007 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  24. David Charlotte, NC

    Huckabee shold take all the chicken hawks on talk radio and go defend all the "honor" that he wants to in Iraq.

    September 6, 2007 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  25. Jim, Atlanta

    Ron Paul is the one Republican that appears to have some integrity and a willingness to do the right thing regardless of his party's official position.

    I am an Independent and would consider voting for him any other year but after the debacle of this Bush Presidency, I couldn't bring myself to vote for anyone with a R by their name.

    Sorry's guilt by association.

    September 6, 2007 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
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