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. Zac, San Francisco CA

    "Honor" is never a good reason to do anything. Would you marry someone for the sake of your honor? Could a bank sell you a loan by promising honor? Would you risk your health for honor? No way! We make important decisions using facts, logic, and reason. What we've seen here is a rhetorical exchange, which is fun like football, but Iraq is not a game, it's a war.

    September 6, 2007 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  2. pl. at the UN for a while.

    I am not American. I cannot vote.

    Nothing ever, anywhere, for any reason, can reaquire past grandeur, or the quintessential "honour". That's the stuff of Acadia and Acadians, not of power-grabbing partisan politics.

    September 6, 2007 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  3. BJM, Houston, Texas

    why was Paul's "saving face statement" omitted from this article? you did not publish the full exchange between the two.

    September 6, 2007 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  4. Joliene, Newark, DE

    Ron Paul is a nut case and I pray he dose not get the nomination. He has no idea of how to maintain and run a country. With that said I think Huckabee sounded closed minded. Bought and paid for by the republican party. Neither deserves a vote!

    September 6, 2007 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  5. Joseph Reyes, La Quinta, CA

    Gov. Huckabee is repeating the same old line from Vietnam. It sounds as though Gov. Huckabee is repeating the policy line from Vietnam in hopes the public's memory does not go back that far. Congressman Paul is correct when he says: "When we make a mistake, it is the obligation of the people – through their representatives – to correct the mistake..." Afterall isn't this what the Founding Fathers wrote into the Constitution – "We the People..."?

    September 6, 2007 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  6. Chris, FL

    I didn't make the mistake. Only a handful of people decided to go to war. AGAISNT THE US POPULATION AND THE WORLD THEY WENT TO WAR.

    I for one will not stick by these elected people for the sake of "being one".

    If we allow this kind of talk, a few people can enslave the rest of us claiming it's good for the gander.

    September 6, 2007 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  7. Jacob Bofferding, Ames IA

    Bravo Ron Paul. He's the only Republican that gets it. Well, others (including Huckabee) might get it as well, but they're too busy touting the now imperialistic party line and reveling in their own stubbornness to admit it.

    The bottom line is, further progress in Iraq is impossible, as any student of history will tell you. Sooner or later, Iraq will be ruled by another dictator. We’re simply delaying that process, and delaying it with American soldiers’ lives and trillions from American tax payers.

    Huckabee’s “Break it bought it” analogy is just naive. If you accidentally break a lamp in a store, you buy the lamp. In Iraq, you can try and replace the lamp as many times as you want, but you’ll be shot at constantly while the lamp is broken time and time again. We can’t fix it, not to mention we broke it on purpose the first time. Believing the U.S. has the ability to nation build in the Middle East is just a sign of our growing imperial hubris.

    Thanks again, Ron. And Huckabee, stop spewing that garbage of America being united – we are now more united AGAINST the Iraq war (70%) than for it! And as Paul said, how many more lives is it worth to save face, to stay “united” in a war that cannot be won?

    September 6, 2007 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  8. Laurie Williams, Norwood, NY

    I watched the debate carefully and I am more sure than ever that Ron Paul is the only man on that podium that will never spin and spit out sound bites or political retoric.
    Bravo to Dr. Paul

    September 6, 2007 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  9. David, Gilbert Arizona

    This was a very interesting exchange between two candidates...neither of whom have even a miniscule chance of being nominated.

    Both of these candidates have latched onto a political slogan. Ron Paul is wrapped in the Constitution and Mike Huckabee is shouting, "honor before everything."

    The reality is that the war in Iraq has nothing to do with our honor nor our Constitution. It is about the day to day lives of millions of Iraqis and the choices that country will be making in the very near future, whether or not they have the courage to take control of their own destiny.

    The war in Iraq is about a coalition of countries fighting a battle house to house day by day with an enemy that holds to a mentality that predates this country and our honor by more than a thousand years.

    The honor of the United States is meaningless if the citizens of Iraq do not have the courage to become a working viable nation. The Constitution of the United States is nothing more than another piece of paper to the Iraqi people if their country collapses around their ears.

    Huckabee and Paul can shake their fists and shout their slogans. Are the people of Iraq listening?

    September 6, 2007 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  10. Boudicca Blanc, Ithaca, NY, USA

    Mr. Huckabee is reinterating the "Powell Doctrine" "You break it..." Which is exactly why we can't just "up and leave.". Ron Paul is correct in stating that we can not blindly play "follow the leader" and stay there "indefinitly."

    The above said, IMO, Iraq has become a proxy war of the religious differences between Sunni and Shia. (Saudi and Iranian, if you prefer.) With a little bit of al-Qaeda and Kurdish Independence thrown in for good measure. (Which will concern Turkey as well.)

    The administration has already promised millions to both Israel and Saudi Arabia for arms.

    We may have no alternative but to allow the folks from this region to "slug it out".


    We can suggest with help from Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey that the country be partitioned.

    All in all this war has been a humanitarian and strategic disaster.
    GWB should have listened to his Daddy!

    September 6, 2007 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  11. dan

    Huckabee should be considered a forst-tier candidate. He put together another solid performance last night and managed to easily beat Paul in their Iraq tit-for-tat.

    September 6, 2007 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  12. Jeff Old Bridge,NJ

    "WE" didn't buy ANYTHING but "WE" are paying through the nose for this president's idiocy!Just because the insanity of this administration got us into this,that is absolutely no excuse to stay insane!Whether we leave today or a century from now,Iraqi's will continue to kill Iraqi's.They've been doing it for about 3,000 years now and they likely won't stop until there is only ONE Iraqui left standing.Huckabee is a prime example of exactly the type of lunatic that got us there in the first place.THANK GOD he will never be president!

    September 6, 2007 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  13. scott, St. Petersburg Florida

    This is clearly a biased write up on their brief exchange, Alexander Mooney. Report don't spin. Huckabee made good Politically safe, catch phrase statements. Ron Paul Made excellent responses to Huckabees cliches, and Ron Paul got plenty of cheers as well. It was not one sided as you made it seem in your report.

    September 6, 2007 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  14. JFGalt, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

    Continuing to have our troops killed for nothing doesn't sound very honorable. It is as if only victory will honor the dead is the American mentality. It worked well in Vietnam didn't it as we went from 10,000 dead to 20 and then we honored the dead with another 10,000 more to joing their ranks and then another 10 to join the previous 30 till we honored over 50,000 dead before we got the message. That logic is so flawed and just works by playing on people's patriotism and lover for this country. The only ones that won in Vietnam were defense contractors. Guess who are the only ones winning in Iraq. Yeah, the same bunch. Do our troops and their families a favor and bring them home. Gov. Huckabee is wrong. This isn't about honor – its about profits and the corruption at the US public's trough in Iraq and at home. Ron Paul is right – bring 'em home.

    September 6, 2007 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  15. S.Walsh

    Ron Paul, the voice of conscience for the GOP, and the Dempocrats for that matters. He is the answer for American, gone badly astray. Blowback IS real, and the concequence to the invasiveness of US foreign policy gone off the constitution.

    September 6, 2007 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  16. Amber, Dallas TX

    CNN, you didn't finish with what Ron Paul said. He got the last word! It's about 2:35 in, on the youtube video titled: Ron Paul @ Republican Fox Debate 9-5-07..

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

    Ron Paul is right. What is the cost of this country's honor? We have no respect or honor from foreign nations right now. I don't think pulling out will make us look much worse, but smart enough to know when to back off! Let them fight their own messes and lets put our country back together while we still can.

    September 6, 2007 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  17. Danny C of Knoxville Tennessee

    Ron clearly schooled the moderator on his comment that he(Ron Paul) gets his marching orders from the constitution and not from Al Way to go Dr. Paul. Best of luck to all the candidates ,but seriously Ron Paul brought his A game. "Those who would give up liberties for temporary security deserve neither" -Ben Franklin-

    September 6, 2007 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  18. Ned Westport, CT

    The only thing I can say is: TRAITORS. The lies of this administration and this president, Paul Bremer,Colin Powell, Condolezza Rice, Dick Cheney have caused their own country to fall and put their brave countrymen in harms way. There should be an impeachment and a trial. That would fully honor the troops.
    How are we going to honor the Iraqi dead?? Have the guts to let them settle their differences on their own and then deal with their government as it sorts itself out, not shove our democracy down their throats.

    September 6, 2007 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  19. Fred Ross, Tulsa, OK

    Hats off to Ron Paul! Undoubtedly he won the debate last night. Being republican, I voted for Sr. Bush and forced to vote for Jr. Bush one time only. But, if Ron is nominated, I'll vote for him. Or else, Hillary is my choice than the other jokers. These words like honor and integrity are just to attarct the voters and win party nomination. How many of these jokers have their sons and daughters are fighting in Iraq? I have no sympathy for the draft dodgers like Bush-Cheney-Rove who have pushed us into this mess for their own benefit and people like Huckabee are talking about Honor. True christians and republicans should throw these chickenhawks out.

    September 6, 2007 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  20. Mindy Chatsworth, Ca.

    With Huckabee's logic, then we should have stayed in Vietnam until hell froze over and sacrificed thousands more of our servicemen's lives. This shows you why we are in the mess that we are. This is the kind of blind, inflexible, knee-jerk approach that this administration has used in the Iraq war. Instead of facing facts, reacting to and dealing with the reality of the sectarian strife in the country, instead of recognizing that there can not be a military solution to the situation in Iraq, this administration stubbornly continues a failed strategy. We do have to make it right and we cannot make it right. With this type of idiotic thinking, then failure should be piled on top of failure. If you are wrong, continue to be wrong, never admit your mistakes and fail on an even grander scale.

    The real problem is that we are ignoring the war that should be fought in Afghanistan. The Taliban is stronger than ever and Al Qaeda's leadership is still in place. If we don't get out of Iraq and direct our attention to the right war in the right country, we are doomed to lose this war on terror.

    Huckabee's argument is totally absurd on its face. It is typical of the deaf, dumb and blind approach to dealing with Iraq. Let the Iraqis fix this mess, believe me they don't want us in their country. They resent us as invaders who came in and attacked a country that presented no real security threat to us.

    This is just another example of why we need to elect a Democrat in 2008. Ron Paul may be the only Republican candidate making any sense on the war in Iraq, but his party isn't listening. Republicans would rather hear the jingoistic nonsense spouted by the likes of Huckabee.

    September 6, 2007 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  21. Mary, Beaver, PA

    Ron Paul, I would be proud to cast my vote for you, just as I did in 1988. God bless our Republic! God bless our Constitution!

    September 6, 2007 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  22. Cracker, Whitesburg, USA

    I think this is the same woman who has been hood-winked more than once by similiarly duplicitous characters. Why would anyone with a brain care WHO she endorses. It could be Spot the dog, for all I care... But then again, I don't watch a lot of daytime TV while the rest of the world is working for a living...maybe she will get some of the slugs out to vote?

    September 6, 2007 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  23. Bob Ewing

    Finally... somebody stands up to the mini-America disciple Ron Paul!

    September 6, 2007 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  24. James, Phoenix AZ

    Ron Paul is not a Republican – he's a libertarian, and a bit looney. If you are for the elimination of the FBI, CIA, Department of Education, Homeland Security, etc – vote for Ron Paul.

    Huckabee clearly won that exchange. The American people – when reminded about our troops successes and our responsibility to Iraqis, cut-and-run candidates will be significantly marginalized.


    A farmer was very protective of his livestock. Rumors of his unruly neighbor (Mr Vick) was training and keeping wolves, the farmer warned Mr Vick about the danger and his concern about his livestock. Mr Vick told the farmer to shove it and that if he came back his wolves would attack him. The next day one of the farmers sheep was dead – mauled by something – perhaps a wolf? The farmer broke through Mr Vick's fence, and burned down Mr vick's barn and destroyed all the (empty) kennels.

    The farmer later learned it wasn't Mr Vick's animals that killed his sheep.

    What was the farmer supposed to do now?

    Cut-and-run club advice: "Sorry dude – good luck with that".

    September 6, 2007 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  25. Bill Moore, San Diego, CA

    We go down united with our honor.

    Under Hillary Clinton.

    September 6, 2007 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
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