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. Robert Dogga Bridgeport, Connecticut

    Mike Huckabee needs to realize that it is 2007 heading to 2008 and reality is showing, not 2003 when lies rang true.

    September 6, 2007 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  2. Bill Charleston SC


    Our soldiers never die for nothing. We honor the memory of those who have fallen best by completing the mission, not surrendering. Ron Paul may be fun to watch, but his ideas would harm this country greatly. We need strength from our president, not retreat.

    September 6, 2007 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  3. Tavia Cantarini Studio City, CA

    AND THEN.....Ron Paul said:

    "We have lost over 5000 Americans over there in Afghanistan and Iraq, plus the civilians killed. How many more do you want to lose? How long are we going to be there? What do we have to pay to save face? All we're doing is saving face. It's time we came home."

    September 6, 2007 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  4. N, Hamburg, Germany

    Only Americans could fall for so many corny, 1950's superficial propaganda comments. All politicians / leaders who advocate war should be made to fight with the soldiers on the front. If the republicans were up for election here they wouldn't even make the 5% minimum to get a seat in parliament. Warmongers are out, environmentally friendly is in.

    September 6, 2007 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  5. Matthew W. Combest

    I'm not a fan of Ron Paul at all – but I certainly stand with Ron Paul on that comment – good to see that at least one republican does not have foggy perception of Iraq.

    September 6, 2007 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  6. Bill Gorman, Los Angeles, CA; now in Baghdad, Iraq

    The governor has my vote but for a different reason than he might think.

    Our actions have produced hideously ugly unintended consequences. Look at what we did to the Iraqis: tens of thousands (perhaps several hundred thousand) dead, many more injured, 2 1/2 million refugees, 1+ million internally displaced persons, enormous numbers of widows and orphans, a large swath of middle class impoverished, very high unemployment, a new haven for the extremists and many other unpleasant results.

    Having done all this, don't we have a responsibility to try to make it aright?

    September 6, 2007 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  7. Joey, Tampa Florida

    Ron Paul is a medical doctor. As he has said before, "If I discover that I have made a wrong diagnosis as a physician, and am therefore giving the wrong treatment, it is my obligation to CHANGE to treatment, not continue it." (or words to that effect)

    The idea that our national honor is at stake in a civil war between Shia and Sunni Iraqis is absurd. Thank goodness that there is at least one politician who has the good sense to recognize this.

    Bravo Ron Paul!

    September 6, 2007 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  8. Marc, Richmond, VA

    Ron Paul should have responded along the lines of, "A false sense of honor and the desire to save face kept America stuck in Vietnam 15 to 20 years too long. We learned the lesson once and that is enough! You can not save face in an unjust war."

    September 6, 2007 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  9. Aaron, Richmond, Indiana

    Huckabee is trying to appeal to Christian conservatives that support Bush and the war. However, Ron Paul is taking the truly Christian position on the war. We preemptively attacked another country that was not threatening us directly. Ron Paul would have been the first to vote for a declaration of war if Iraq had attacked us first, but as Christians we should never support an aggressive war.

    September 6, 2007 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  10. L.M., Ardmore, Oklahoma

    I want to thank the gentleman from Arkansas and the gentleman from Texas for crystallizing the issue. We stay to honor our promises or we pull out because it was a mistake to go in. I want to thank Pres. Bush for similarly clarifying his reasons for being in Iraq: (1) to engage the enemy outside American soil, and (2) to spread an ideology of freedom in the middle east. I want to thank Hillary and Barack and Bill and John and all the rest of the candidates for demonstrating that we have a better way of determining policy than at the barrel of a gun or the blast of a bomb. Makes you wonder why we didn't use it to remove the braggart of Baghdad. I don't know what the answer is, but I do know that the last two Texans with simplistic answers to world problems got us into a whole lot of trouble, and I don't want to do it with another one, trouble or Texan.

    September 6, 2007 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  11. Ken Fischetti, New Providence NJ

    Bravo Ron Paul! He is the only Republican with the guts to say that fighting in Iraq was a mistake and we cannot correct that mistake by prolonging our involvement. We need a change in Washington and Ron Paul is the right man at the right time.

    September 6, 2007 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  12. dixie golden

    Ron Paul speaks the truth. Anyone justifying this war by saying "we broke it, we fix it" is saying keep our troops there indefinitely to be maimed and die.

    We didn't agree to this war. The politicians, in their laziness about researching the truth, did.

    It's time we fixed them.

    September 6, 2007 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  13. Michael W, Orlando FL

    Honor? A Presidential candidate discussing honor? How refreshing. Most Americans may need to google that word to remember what it means. Huckabee clearly won that exchange and Paul came off looking like the loony moonbat that he is.

    September 6, 2007 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  14. Bob, San Antonio, TX

    We've dug ourselves a hole, and Huckabee thinks the answer is to get a a bigger shovel. I've not heard a single person actually responsible for this mess take accountability for it. Our military did everything asked of them and should come home victorious with only a small force left there to help manage the ensuing humanitarian crisis.

    September 6, 2007 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  15. Brandon Walker, CT

    So our honor is more important than the lives of American troops. Nice try mr. Huckabee, but your emotional appeal is a joke at best.

    btw those neocons roaring in the crowd didnt fool anyone.

    September 6, 2007 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  16. Dot, Selinsgrove, PA

    I agree with Senator Huckabee that we let a bull into the china shop and we will be paying for a very long time for what was broken.

    September 6, 2007 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  17. Ben, Chicago IL

    Once again, CNN just reporting the news they want you to hear. After Huckabee's last statement, Paul declared something along the lines of 'Thousands of American troops have died, many Iraqi civilians too, and you want to sacrifice more to save face?' Any reason Mooney you didn't put that in there???

    September 6, 2007 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  18. Roger, Atlanta Georgia

    I see how he puts honor and pride over human life which by the way is an unchristian thing to do.

    That was just absolute nonsensical, naive rhetoric by the Arkansas governor.

    "One nation under God" what a joke, we are not a nation under God, never was, that is a pretense used by politicians like the "Senator Craig’s" of this country to bamboozle the American people and the tragic part is that it actually works.

    Iraq was a colossal mistake, doesn't take a rocket scientist or a historian to figure that out.

    Just like a republican, always trying to shift blame or change the rules of engagement, the main reason was about Weapons of mass destruction, now it's about stopping a civil war or Iranian dominance or terrorism-"emboldening the enemy", or democracy or is it our reputation and honor?

    My name may be Roger but let it not be confused with Mr. Rogers in the Land of make believe because it's plain and simple, this war is about arrogance and ignorance.

    September 6, 2007 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  19. Tanya Brand, San Antonio, TX

    Thank you Mr. Huckabee for standing for more than just politics. Thank you for reminding us that we are one nation under God.

    September 6, 2007 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  20. Allan Bartlett, Irvine, CA

    Dr. Paul won the exchange and the debate with his defense of the Constitution.

    September 6, 2007 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  21. Jane Chambers, Germantown, MD

    3753 killed in Iraq as of todays numbers...

    this summer has seen more soliders flown home in body bags than any subsequent summer since the onset of this 'war' in Iraq...

    why doin't we end this now and bring them home?

    September 6, 2007 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  22. Cable King Pittsburgh Pa

    Count me w/ "psycho" Ron Paul on this one also.

    If there is a God, I doubt that Huckabee speaks for him.

    Huckabee should answer his calling and start producing weight loss comercials

    September 6, 2007 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  23. Martin Graves

    Mr. Huckabee seems to have peaked with his clown act at the Iowa straw poll carnival. He is still carrying water for Bush's war policy. Thanks once again to Ron Paul for making the distinction between business as usual and new directions.

    September 6, 2007 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  24. Stephan, Sarasota, FL

    Huckabee, though attempting to be noble, comes off as being extremely naive and "politics as usual," full of political rhetoric.

    Paul, on the other hand, comes off as the more intelligent and honest of the two, by far.

    September 6, 2007 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  25. Raymond, El Paso TX

    Typical Republican politicians! They keep preaching about values, about one nation under God and a united America yet they have allowed the U.S. Mint to relegate "In God We Trust" and "E Pluribus Unum" to the thin outside edge of the new presidential coins. Hypocrites! Their only God is money.

    September 6, 2007 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
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