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. Jason, Park City, KS

    We have dug a hole for ourselves with Iraq. If they Iraqi people want freedoms, they need to be the ones fighting for it, not us. Our democracy survived 200+ years ago because we wanted it and we fought for it. Therefore it means something to us. For the most part, they're not standing up and earning their freedom, we're earning it for them.

    As for honor, well, sometimes it takes more guts to pull out and admit a mistake than to stand around and "stay the course". Immediate withdrawal? No. But should we start bringing our men and women home? Yes. We're trying to put our ideals on groups of people that have had deep-seated hatred going back hundreds of years. We didn't fully understand that when we went in.

    September 6, 2007 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  2. Kevin K, Lynchburg, Virginia

    Gotta love the liberal media trying to actually point out Huckabee as the winner of the exchange when the post-Debate polls showed Ron Paul with a 2-to-1 margin of victory over second place.

    Did Huckabee support going into Iraq in 2003? He better not have if he is going to say things such as, "we bought it because we broke it."

    September 6, 2007 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  3. DF Jacksonville, FL

    NOTE TO HUCKABEE: Since when did the current American government ever care what "we" the American people wanted? If "we" decided to go into Iraq, then shouldn't "we" be allowed to decide when to get out?

    September 6, 2007 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  4. Bru, Asheville, NC

    Now this is refreshing! Two Republican candidates arguing about the best way to get out of Iraq. It looks like the Demmocratic candidates may have to find a new issue to run on.

    I support Ron Paul because he has had the courage to always vote NO on any invasion of Iraq.

    September 6, 2007 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  5. W. Gary Johnson, New York, NY

    With his phony "honor over party" response, Huckabee was acknowledging he had lost the exchange. Our nation's honor was forfeit the moment we invaded Iraq, and we won't begin to regain it until we are well rid of this disastrous occupation.

    September 6, 2007 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  6. Chris Moller

    Another demonstration of the decision the Republican Party has to make next year: Ron Paul or oblivion.

    September 6, 2007 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  7. JD Smith

    The Iraqi's are owed nothing. We have given enough. Let their lesson be that they should take care of their own problems and mind their own dang business.

    Remember the USS Stark.

    I like Huckabee, but I dont follow his logic. How long do we try to put humpty back together and who pays for it? Cant we just use that money for something else, like building bridges, broken cities or maybe energy independence?

    September 6, 2007 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  8. JoeB,Pittsburgh

    Ron Paul sounds so *real*. Every other politician sounds so fake. "We have to be one nation under God." Gimme a break. Huckabee's obviously trying to sound like Abraham Lincoln. Bunch of nonsense.

    September 6, 2007 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  9. Tony Nazar, Wilton, ME

    Huckabee's machismo will win him the support of the testosterone overloaded.

    Paul was correct – but not right enough for Republican primary voters.

    But the whole debate was futile – Fred just tossed his hat in the ring and has already been annointed by the Sunday AM pundits to take it all. He's tall, has a good speaking voice and, like an earlier Republican President, is a grade B movie and TV actor,

    September 6, 2007 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  10. Robb Baubie, Grosse Pointe, MI

    Ron Paul speaks intelligently, explaining his positions clearly on every issue. In this instance Dr. Paul was doing more of the same in the face of Huckabee trying to score political points with his his "American Honor" rhetoric. BTW, there is nothing honorable about an incorrect foreign policy that is responsible for more than one hundred thousand deaths.

    September 6, 2007 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  11. Lawrence, New York City, NY

    So we should have stayed in Vietnam for "honor" as well then? I believe the families of our soldiers would prefer live returnees than dead ones tagged "honorable" by politicians with no personal stake in the fighting itself.

    September 6, 2007 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  12. William Smith, Manchester NH, editor of

    Ron Paul is a nut job.

    Although I'm not voting for him in the New Hampshire Primary, Huckabee did a fabulous job last night and came across as presidential. He improved his standing the most.

    Congressman Paul–by suggesting 9/11 wouldn't have happened if people could take guns on planes–finally achieved "escaped mental patient" status.

    That stage is for serious candidates and Ron Paul shouldn't be there.

    September 6, 2007 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  13. Bill, Atlanta, GA

    They're so willing to sacrifice others for honor. Maybe they should just do us all a favor and perform Seppuku on themselves like the Samurai do and sacrifice THEMSELVES to save their honor!

    September 6, 2007 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  14. Chris Moller, Cary, NC

    The choice the Republican Party has to make next year: Ron Paul or oblivion.

    September 6, 2007 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  15. Someone, Nashville, TN

    Funny, they didn't report the whole debate. It didn't end with Huckabee's "Even if we lose elections, we should not lose our honor." statement.

    September 6, 2007 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  16. Brenton, Edgewater MD

    Ron Paul, seems to be the only voice of reality at these debates; Republican or Democratic. It's frightening to read there were "roars" and "cheers" over Huckabee's statements. It just shows how easily manipulated the public is with cries of nationalism.

    Huckabee is also deluded into the Democracy mindset. As if the "people" voted to go to Iraq. This is a Republic! We elect the officials, and the officials make the choice. Often, even if we don't like it, for the good or for the bad. The only democratic part of our system is in our election process. If you mess up, we vote you out.

    Ron Paul gets it. We're unhappy, and he's the only voice of change.

    September 6, 2007 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  17. Loyda, WDC

    Mr. Huckabee won, hands down....

    I'm very surprised that all those conservative looking for 'alternatives' to the increasingly flawed 'front-runners' are not looking at Mike Huckabee.

    Hopefully after last night, he gets some well-deserved atention....

    September 6, 2007 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  18. J. DeMarce Carrollton, Georgia

    Ron Paul was right. To continue sacrificing American blood in order to simply save face is a fool's policy. We went there predicated on a series of lies and false pretenses in violation of our own Constitution. There is no quotient of further deaths that can resolve those infamies and somehow imbue the entire affair with honor.

    September 6, 2007 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  19. Jeff

    If you believe by advocating running away from the issue is winning the argument then maybe you are right. But what I saw is a candidate making a solid argument for the need to stay and finish a job that we got stuck deep in the middle of. By the way the 9/11 Commission Report, which you don't seem to have read fully simply argues that faulty intelligence was the issue, not that we should abandon the effort. Maybe you meant the Iraq Study Group report....even that didn't advocate an immediate withdrawal though it did briefly mention it as an option.

    Although Mike Huckabee is advocating a position disliked by Americans according to opinion polls the facts are as follows. Iraq was less of a threat before we invaded, we went into Iraq based on faulty and skewed intelligence, without the presence of American troops the security and safety of the Iraqi people would severely diminish, us leaving now would lead to a civil war that would not have happened had we not invaded but would be unavoidable without the American troops there. We shouldn't have invaded the country but we did, as they say in any antique store "you break it you buy it", it is our responsibility to allow our troops to finish the job with the support of the American people and its leaders working hard to bring about a political solution in the country.

    September 6, 2007 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  20. Tim Sullivan

    Huckabee can fix it on his own after he loses his bid for the presidency.

    September 6, 2007 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  21. Nelda R. Big Spring, Texas

    I have a real problem with the mother who left her 2 yr old in the car all day. No charges pressed because it was "accidental" The reason is because there are so many who relate to the stress of the day. Why didn't the babysitter call & ask where the child was?
    Also why are we ending Vic's life over a dog fight when this mother who accidental or not killed her baby. You say that's different he intentionally did it...did he? did he know it was wrong? I am sure if the mother was asked if leaving a child in the car is wrong she would say yes. Sorry the mother needs to be charged. Unless we have arrived where a dog's life is more important than a childs life. Again we are picking & choosing what law pertains to whom. Just like trying not to incarcerate Paris Hilton...the public spoke out & they changed their minds. Judging??? Our court systems are based on judging guilty or not guilty...send it to the courts put her in jail then bring the case up in a court of law & then the jurors based on the evidence presented will judge wheither she is guilty or not...but to just say she feels really bad & I think she will have to live with this the rest of her life is a crock...

    September 6, 2007 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  22. Jeremiah Colorado Springs

    "Even if we lose elections, we should not lose our honor." and "We bought it because we broke it." Shows a man who uses common sense. I only wish there was more of that.

    September 6, 2007 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  23. Joy, LA California

    That wasn't the entire exchange. Where the article cuts off, Ron Paul replies along the lines of: we're saving face. We're losing American lives so we can just save face.

    September 6, 2007 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  24. S. B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Both Paul and Huckabee had good points with that exchange. Unfortunately for Paul, it demonstrated his lack of understanding on several things: how quickly one can move 160,000 troops anywhere as well as their equipment, that the world perceives it as an American war despite it being the brain child of the Neo-Cons, those as well as the idea that it American troops that are doing most of the heavy lifting.

    Paul does point out that the Neo-Cons forced the rest of America into the war. There is no getting around that. Huckabee needs to understand that there needs to be a strategy that can be articulated to the American public other than, "you broke it, you bought it." We did break it, but we need to have idea of where to put the pieces as well as what kind of glue we need.

    September 6, 2007 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  25. Moe, NY

    Mr. Huckabee is, as far as I am concerned, not up on the times! America is, sadly, divided and as far as the GOP goes..a saying comes to mind..."There is no honor among thieves".

    September 6, 2007 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
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