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. RALight, Bullhead City AZ

    I'm quite alarmed that an ordained minister equates honor to perpetuating death and destruction. "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil." How could one read the Federalist Papers (and the arguments of the Anti-Federalists) and still choose any of these seven totalitarians over Ron Paul?

    September 5, 2007 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  2. Republicae, Charleston, SC

    Ron Paul WON hands down...On MSNBC poll...he is currently getting 51% of the vote out of 40,000 votes thus far! The People are finally waking up to the Corporate Mass Media manipulation, the Republican Party Elitists and the Neo-Con Con-Job that has been played on this country for years!

    As a Republican for the last 50 years I am once again proud that we have a Statesman seeking office. When I read Ron Paul's book A Foreign Policy of Freedom, I knew that he was not only the most rational politician in Washington, but probably one of the most intelligent. It is time for this Party and this rapidly fading Nation to return to REASON and RATIONAL DECISIONS!

    September 5, 2007 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  3. George, Nashua NH

    Really? Honor over preserving the lives of our servicemen? Honor over implementing the correct foreign policy?

    Honor? Is that all we are fighting for now in Iraq? What a stupid reason to continue a war.

    September 5, 2007 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  4. CMS, CA

    Huckabee has a point that no one can deny. We screwed it up and have the moral oblgation to fix it.

    Yell all you want. If we leave tell. please tell me how the place doesnt break into a post-Soviet Afganistan which is pimped out for terrorism by Iran and Al Queda like Lebanon. BTW, Iran is the leader of all Islamic terrorism and Iraq's neighbor...

    We are there and must grow a spine to deal with OUR mistake. (OUR=both parties voted to go into Iraq)

    It kills me to see my Marine brothers die in a worthless country. But I can envision much worse if we leave and give Iran the upper hand.

    September 5, 2007 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  5. KD,

    Wow! What a powerful debate. I have to say both candidates do make sense with some of their rhetoric. Yes, the past is for historians to debate. Yes, a small select group of manipulative neoconservatives did this to our country. However, No, I don't believe we should continue to allow our soldiers to die for a cause that has nothing to do with us. Yes, we did break it, but no, we cannot fix it; although it sure seems like we are doing our best at buying it. The Iraqi's are the only people who can fix it. I don't think their country has the means of building a democracy at this point in time. They must do what they need to in order to achieve stability and peace. They need to figure out what needs to be done to get out of a civil war. Our honor died worldwide when we went to war and violated international law. We can improve our honor by listening to others for a change.

    September 5, 2007 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  6. PG Charlotte, North Carolina

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Wake me up when the republican'ts stop babbling.........

    September 5, 2007 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  7. James Bowery, Portland, OR

    Ron Paul needed to keep up the attack on the hijacking of US foreign policy by the neocons. World opinion understands this is exactly what happened to the US and does _not_ hold the American people responsible for this hijacking of our government. There should be a housecleaning of the US government starting within the GOP led by Ron Paul.

    September 5, 2007 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  8. Shannon, Inverness, Florida

    Huckabee understands true authority and resposibilty. We, as a nation, interfered where we shouldn't have, but it doesn't mean we can just quit once we realized our mistake. We unleashed Al-Qeda and the hell that is going on there, not the average Iraqui. I'd rather vote for someone with honor than someone who changes his mind to keep his office.

    September 5, 2007 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  9. Mark, Alexandria, VA

    That is not objective reporting – look at the applause interpretation. Ron Paul was discussing the root cause of the issue. Understanding the root cause helps us come to a real solution – and end to the Iraq war.

    He is not weak. People who think he is weak just because he doesnt want to police the world and because he wants the congress to go to war not the President only, do not understand, appreciate or love our constitution.

    Ron Paul cares about human life more than anyone on that stage because of his widthdrawal position. It also will make us more secure that extending ourselves, forcing ourselves across the globe.

    Iran is a threat – but lets deal with it in a sane, intelligent manner. And if force is required. Ron Paul will go to the congress to authorize war against them.

    September 5, 2007 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  10. Anna, Ithaca, NY

    You guys make it sound like only Huckabee was getting applause, when in fact it was loud for both. You also fail to mention that Dr. Paul ended the exchange with, "We have lost over 5000 americans in Afghanistan and Iraq, plus 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? That's all we're doing – saving face. It's time we came home."

    I must say, it's nice to see Dr. Paul get angry – some people may be tempted to dismiss him, but it shows that he can bring it when it counts. If I were him, I would have lost my patience long ago with the politically correct pandering of the other candidates.

    Dr. Paul is a man who understands and exudes honor and integrity, and shame on Mike Huckabee for using the idea of American honor for his own gain, as though he were the only one that cared.

    September 5, 2007 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  11. Bruce, Tulsa, OK

    Who does Huckabee think he's kidding? It's easy to say standing behind a podium; nevermind the young boys who are dying because he "broke it". Paul was a lone voice against the war; bring them home. Reagan did it. Shame on them, saving face at the expense of our boys and the other hundreds of thousands innocents that have died.

    September 5, 2007 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  12. W. Eskdale, St. Pete, FL

    Wow, honest debate for a change and two legitimate viewpoints expressed....maybe these are the guys we should be considering–how about a Huckabee-Paul ticket for the Repubs...they can run on an honesty platform! This is the first debate exchange that I have heard that is not pablum....

    September 5, 2007 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  13. Adam, Clearwater, FL

    Most understand that the Iraq region would undergo a cataclysmic collapse in the event of a rapid withdrawal (and here rapid means about a year, since it is not logistically possible to do it faster).

    You know what? I am a Democrat, but this guy Huckabee appears to have some wisdom that reminds me of Democratic candidate Joe Biden. I sincerely hope Huckabee wins the Republican nomination, because, in the words of Bill Maher, "Rudy Giuliani scares the s*$t out of me."

    Would Biden/Huckabee or Huckabee/Biden not be a good bipartisan ticket assuming that they are not both nominated? Two candidates with wisdom, practicality, and integrity, who embody the principles of the founding fathers.

    September 5, 2007 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  14. Dave, Hawaii

    I can imagine Mike Huckabee hammering a nail into a piece of wood but when the nail is bent, he keeps hammering away thinking the nail will ultimately straighten out.

    September 5, 2007 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  15. Joseph Pennington

    Huckabee's got nothing but having lost weight. Ron Paul has his integrity behind him, the Constitution in front of him, and any American who cares to be free and have a say in their government right beside him.

    September 5, 2007 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  16. Harry Katz

    Huckabee isn't talking about honor... he's talking about saving face. We can't win in Iraq, just like we couldn't win in Viet Nam. Yes, we're going to withdraw, even Bush is talking about drawing down. But we're leaving Iraqis in much worse situation than before we went in. We will withdraw slowly, and as we do more and more Iraqi blood will spill and more Americans will die.

    Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Rove, you've done a great job. Well over 4,000 Americans will be dead, tens of thousands more maimed and crippled,substandard medical/psychological care when the wounded return home, hundreds of thousands of Americans directly affected by these casualties, 100,000 Iraqis killed.

    And this is what Huckabee feels we should honor.

    Yes, indeed. Vote Republican in November. For our honor. Any question as to why the world laughs at George Bush?

    September 5, 2007 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  17. Pedro, Miami FL

    It seemed like a tennis match at the US Open between Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul. These two guys are the strongest players for the Republican Team. They don't waver in their beliefs so they don't have to stop and think about what to say. Unfortunately the referee stopped it when it was starting to get good. Both made strong points, but Huckabee no doubt came out on top.

    September 5, 2007 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  18. James, Sarasota, Fl

    I disagree with the above comment that Huckabees "honor over party" comment won the exchange. Next he completely contradicted himself and said we must like lemings follow what the current policies are no matter what without disent. Dr Paul honorably disents from following an amoral preemptive strike philosophy of the republican administration. Heck "Honor before Party" could be a Ron Paul campaign slogen.

    September 5, 2007 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  19. Sandi, Fort Myers, FL

    I personally would not want my child's life to be sacrificed because we are trying to somehow save face. That just doesn't make sense to me. Ron Paul was awesome tonight.

    September 5, 2007 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  20. Brad, Burbank, CA

    "Honor" is an emotional word. Emotions don't always lead to bright ideas.

    September 5, 2007 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  21. Melissa E., Kansas City, MO

    RON PAUL is my new hero!!! I am shocked that Huckabee said that our American honor is more important than American lives!! Clearly this guy is one who would rather let his family lose everything than swallow his pride and ask for a hand-out. I'm sick of this pro-life stance neo-cons take yet they want to only care about genocide when oil is involved. Why don't we invade Darfur? What's the difference???

    September 5, 2007 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  22. Jim from New Hampshire

    Unfortunately, this blog left out Ron Paul's final statement in the exchange which was something to the effect of, "We've already lost over 5000 Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq. How many more Americans are we willing to let die in order to save face?"

    September 5, 2007 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  23. Joe LI, NY

    Yeah MIKE honor is better than losing 100's and 100's of USA lives for OIL, Military industrial complex and ISrael who RON PAUL said has 200-250 nukes so they can protect themselves.


    September 5, 2007 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  24. Jim, Milwaukee Wisconsin

    I do think RP is right, but what exactly in the 9-11 commission report backs up his position?

    September 5, 2007 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  25. Joe in L.A.

    Ron Paul wins yet another debate and leads in the polls. It's obvious the crowd agreed. He is currently at first at 69% on an MSNBC poll and first with 35% of Fox's text message poll.

    He has won 17 top three finishes in straw polls across the country. 6 first place finishes including Maryland just the other night. His money on hand is going to shock everybody when the next quarter reports come in.

    Ron Paul will be President... most people just don't it yet.

    September 5, 2007 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
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