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. H. D. Schmidt, Loma Linda, Ca.

    There is no question but Ron Paul spoke for the Founding Fathers loud and clear. I personally suggest that America's honor was lost from the very begginning by going to war under bogus evidence, Mr. Huchebee! I will stay away from voting unless he, Ron Paul becomes the nominee. For the record, I am a Staunch Conservative Christian Republican, totally finished with George W. and his mandhandlers, that of Cheney, etc.

    September 6, 2007 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  2. Mark Mazelli, Sharon, MA

    It's sobering to see that not everyone has fallen in love with Huckabee based upon his comment.

    What the Media fails to comprehend is that Ron Paul won that exchange by using REASON rather than appealing to emotion. Bombing Iraq into oblivion with "Shock and Awe" was not honorable. Following the law of this land vis a vis the Constitution is honorable. Unfortunately, we currently have elected officials that feel otherwise.

    September 6, 2007 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  3. Erik, Austin TX

    I thought Ron Paul came off better in this exchange, especially if you hear the whole thing (this article only reports about half of it).

    Unfortunately, Ron Paul is the Dennis Kucinich of the Republican party. He has some great ideas, but he was instantly marginalized in the media and has no prayer of ever winning the nomination, much less the election.

    I don't like all of Ron Paul's ideas, but he's dead on about this war.

    September 6, 2007 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  4. Anonymous

    I agree with almost every other comment made here – its deplorable for Mr. Huckabee to call for the entire United States go down with the sinking ship known as Iraq. The best way to correct a mistake is to LEARN from it – and NOT do it again. Obviously we didn't learn from Vietnam. We lost this war we should have never started – there's no honor in letting our brave men and women return home before they, too die for nothing. But this entire argument about when or how or why we should leave is COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT – Iraq is still (barely) a sovereign nation as i recall. And i'm pretty sure they do not want us there. So really, honestly – why are we still there? Lets hold those neoconservative beasts RESPONSIBLE for their actions – and let the Iraqis deal with them! That would be a truly new day in America.

    September 6, 2007 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  5. Ron Green, Silver City NM

    Ron Paul’s Foreign policy (complete withdraw of US Troops out of the Middle East) would cause chaos in that Region, which would bring more of a threat to America’s Homeland. I have a brother-in-law serving in Iraq and he and his fellow soldiers believe in bringing stability to Iraq and not letting it become a harbor for terrorist. Lets start listening to our soldiers and stop listening to politicians that have an agenda. On the other hand Mike Huckabee showed integrity and courage to do what is right even if it is not the popular view.

    September 6, 2007 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  6. Tony

    CNN is just another mainstream media that censored that debate.
    They cut out the last piece of the argument when Ron Paul said we're still there because we are saving face.

    September 6, 2007 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  7. Bubba, Swainsboro GA

    Wow, so we're one nation again. Now that you need the rest of us, that is. As it happens, L. Ron Paul is perfectly right here: this is the neocons' crusade against Islam, not America's war on terrorism. Remember Afghanistan? Osama? 9-11? Huck, MY honor's not at stake here. It's yours.

    September 6, 2007 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  8. Mike, Eau Claire, WI

    "Clearly the more educated about foreing policy..." Ahhhhh irony.

    At any rate, I think they both made interesting cases and this was the highlight of the debate, a point where it actually was a debate. Too often these things are just glorified grandstanding or brief ads for the candidates.

    September 6, 2007 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  9. WT McCane, Ft. Lauderdale Florida

    Divided WE Stand ;United We Fall-Thomas Jefferson

    September 6, 2007 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  10. Anonymous

    If Mike Huckabee is so passionate about
    the war in Iraq, then he should get a
    gun and go over there. Let him risk
    his life for the honor he is so
    passionate about.

    September 6, 2007 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  11. Gary, Mission, KS

    Ron Paul clearly won that exchange. There is absolutely no honor in allowing more U.S. troops and innocent Iraqi people to die for an unjust, unconstitutional war.

    September 6, 2007 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  12. Joe S., Vista California

    Huckabee needs to realize that America has already lost it's honor. Waging a war thousands of miles away based on lies and continuing it basically because the republicans don't want to admit defeat. Sometimes it's o.k and honorable to admit we were wrong and get the heck out.

    September 6, 2007 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  13. Karen, Washington, DC

    This is the first time I have heard a politician speak sensibly and it seems honestly – whether you agree with Mr. Huckaby or not. Mr. Paul said "…it's the obligation of the people - through their representatives - to correct the mistake…." Well, I don’t see them doing that either. It’s interesting to see how many Republicans are jumping on the Democrats’ band wagon. Too bad they didn’t speak up before this! Politics as usual.

    September 6, 2007 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  14. Scott, Jackson, MI

    The best part about this entire debate was when the fox news 'moderators' mockingly asked congressman Paul if he "takes his marching orders from Al Quada" when he said our troops should leave the arabian peninsula in order to reduce terror recruiting, to which the congressman responded "NO.....I take my marching orders directly from the CONSTITUTION!"

    These guys, with the exception of Dr. Paul, have no idea about foreign policy or terrorism. Tancredo said that he doesnt believe that the reasons why we were attacked on 9/11 (which the fact that we meddle in the affairs of arab nations, as acknowledged by the CIA, 9/11 commission report, and terrorism experts) were true because the "Just want to kill us." It's unreal how these guys are able to ignore FACTS.

    I think it's pretty obvious who won the debate....the only guy on stage who told the truth and didnt resort to simply sticking to his talking points (McCain has said in every debate that he will make pork barrel spending bill authors famous). RON PAUL '08

    September 6, 2007 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  15. P. Siegel, Lake Worth, Florida

    Ron Paul-WOW !!!!!! As a Republican, I had lost all respect for my party-That is, until you came along. Someone that speaks with common sense and intelligence !!!!! If Ron Paul is nominated, I will vote Republican again !!!!

    September 6, 2007 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  16. BSR, Atlanta, GA

    Ron Paul ... we need more people like him running for office ... then maybe this country could become again what it once was.

    September 6, 2007 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  17. Dennis, Cleveland, OH

    Wow, Huckabee is a guy I would not want to see as president. At least Ron Paul called out the neo-cons and the war being fought for them and the policy of the CFR. And no one should pay any attention to the people and media who try to suppress that fact. The people that swallow that bull are the ones calling Ron Paul a psycho or looney. It is about time people educate themselves on these issues and not believe all of the media hogwash and see that there is a very shady reason we are in Iraq and about to go after Iran. Look into the SPP with Mexico and Canada and the loss of soverignty the USA will experience in this North American Union. These neo-con globalists are up to some sketchy things and political party does not matter, the Dems and GOP are both in favor of it.

    September 6, 2007 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  18. Brandon, Columbia, MO


    Paul: "How many lives do we need to sacrifice to save face?"
    Huckabee: "Saving face (our honor) is worth as many lives as it takes."

    I'm with Paul on this one. Paul is clearly the only GOP candidate that understands foreign policy, the Middle East, and economics.

    It also helps that the facts back up Paul (the 9/11 commission, for example) and not the lines Huckabee is trying to feed us, even with his trying to twist things into a seemingly consistent ethic and honor. We've already lost our honor and respect, that is what paul was getting at. Continuuing this mess will only cause us to lose more respect, not restore it. The only way to restore our respect is to admit we made a mistake and go home, and change our policy to prevent more of the same mistakes from being made (Iran, anyone?)

    Huckabee is proving that his strong "pro-life" stance only extends to the extent that it can get him elected, but when it comes to American soldiers and innocent Iraqis, he'll kill as many as it takes to make him and his neoconservative buddies (Bush, Romney, Thompson, McCain, etc) look good.

    Its nice to see someone (Paul) that understands the issues and works to resolve them rather than just quoting rote party rhetoric.

    If you aren't familiar, Paul on YouTube is a great place to start...

    September 6, 2007 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  19. Tom, Austin, Tx.

    "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent." – Thomas Jefferson.

    Thank goodness there are some like Ron Paul out there with good conscience, willing to speak up for the truth. Under the Bush Administration and other Republicans willing to continue more of the same, what we've got is tyranny.

    September 6, 2007 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  20. Cable King Pittsburgh Pa

    Ron Paul deserves kudos for proving that no one is right or wrong all of the time. That still doesn't mean that he doesn't have his "psycho" moments – like when he wants to allow airline passengers to be pack'in loaded weapons.

    Another retort is for the gentleman who wants the grunts on the ground to be dictating foreign policy – that's not their job. desciption

    September 6, 2007 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  21. mt, br, la

    The most telling quote from this entire Iraq saga came a couple of weeks ago from the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq. She asked why Bush is planning a wedding while she is planning a funeral.

    We are a divided nation, and the worst division of all, IMHO, is the division of sacrifice.

    September 6, 2007 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  22. Rob, Queens, NY

    If you look up the term "integrity" in the dictionary, you'll likely find a picture of Mike Huckabee next to it. That comment, "We bought it because we broke it," shows that he is not only down to earth, but is also a responsible politician in an era where nobody wants to take responsiblity for anything. It makes you wonder just why the hardcore Republicans are ignoring this responsible conservative from Arkansas. I'm a left-leaning independent, but I'll tell you this– given the opportunity, I'll vote for Mike Huckabee any day.

    September 6, 2007 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  23. Chuck, Pollock Pines, California

    Apparently, the Republicans have one relatively sensible candidate, Ron Paul.

    Mr. Huckabee, President Bush and Republicans in Congress own the Iraq war and all its consequences. Bush would not have invaded under false pretenses if he had honor. He unleashed a struggle for power and we can't stop it. Americans should not be killed trying to keep muslims from murdering each other. There is nothing in Iraqi culture to suggest they want American-style democracy.

    September 6, 2007 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  24. DefendTheConstitution

    To honor our troops, to honor our country, to honor American people and to honor Iraqs, we need a full investigation of who hijacked our foreign policy and started an UNCONSTITUTIONAL war under a major FRAUD.

    When our troops are being killed, because of war crimes committed by neo-cons, the solution is to take neo-cons to trial, not keeping our troops under fire and keep them being killed in Iraq. It is simply insane.

    The neo-cons are in cozy offices in DC planning next war to have many more of our troops killed. They play laptop wars, while our troop takes bullets and IEDs.

    American Deaths: 3,752
    American Wounded: 27,767
    The War in Iraq Costs: $449 billion and counting.


    September 6, 2007 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  25. Courtney, Austin TX

    From a green voter in Austin, I respect your views on Iraq.
    The fascists you're running among are an ignorant breed; quick to invoke God, quick to denounce those who disagree for lacking unity, patriotism or morals.
    These lies have murdered Americans and Iraqis alike.
    Out of Iraq!

    September 6, 2007 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20