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. Mike, Washington DC

    Ron Paul Responded with the following (Note: Fox News also left out Ron Paul's response)

    We have lost over 5000 over there in Afganistan and Iraq. How many more do you want to lose? How long are you going to be there? How long? What do we have to pay to save face? Thats all we're doing is saving face. Its time we come home.

    September 5, 2007 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  2. Jeff from West Virginia

    Ron Paul won the moment hands down!

    The Fox News viewers think he won too because he is way ahead in the Fox News Text Messaging Poll at 33%.

    September 5, 2007 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  3. Phil, Golden, CO

    This may come as a shock to Mr. Huckabee, but breaking and buying it does not mean that the US can fix it. I also seem to remember that quite a few Iraqis want us to leave NOW. Then again, maybe our honor is more important than the wishes of the Iraqi people.

    September 5, 2007 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  4. Susan, Arlington, VA

    I did not see the debate, but totally agree with Huckabee. We are one country, under God, indivisible. And if we broke it, as Colin Powell so put it a few years ao, we did buy it. And now, it is up to us to help the Iraqis fix it. We do not understand their culture, nor they ours, and that is the crux of the problem. We did not understand, going in, that there was such sectarian division....we made many mistakes, shuting out the Baathe party members 'jut because' was one of them. People need to work, people need to feel a part of the process, and somehow, we need to make that a reality in Iraq for all people.

    They grow 'em good in Arkansas....Republican or Democrat.....they grow 'em good in Arkansas.....and that is a lot for me to say......I am from CA originally

    September 5, 2007 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  5. Scott, Raleigh, NC

    Ron Paul won that exchange in my opinion. It was a mistake going into Iraq the only way to fix it is by getting out now. Huckabee seems nice and sincere but his talk of staying for honor was just rhetoric. We keep hearing about Iran being a reason for troops deaths in Iraq yet fail to mention that it's keeping there that keeps them targets for any enemy there. I can't believe we are being sold another war already. Ron Paul is the only candidate I can respect enough to vote for. Peace.

    September 5, 2007 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  6. Larry, Seattle, WA

    Ron Paul needs to put the crack pipe down and realise our actions have consequences. Consequences much more severe than taking our toys and going home. His unrealistic approach to politics reminds me of my little brothers take on play time. If he didn't like how things were going, he'd pack up his toys and go leave. Eventually getting the heck kicked out of him by other kids that didn't appreciate him not finishing what he started.

    Ron Paul is an absurd choice for President.

    September 5, 2007 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  7. Nick, Phoenix, AZ

    As in every other debate, Ron Paul is always the winner because he is not an insane war mongerer! He says what is on every reasonable persons mind. Plus I love the fact that he wants to abolish the IRS and Federal Reserve and abolish bush's North American Union which will destroy this country once and for all. If any of those other maniacs gets elected, this country is doomed! Go Ron Paul 2008!!

    September 5, 2007 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  8. Quazimoto Jackson Thurgood

    Mike Huckabee Won the Debate according to the Anus Magazine Blog.

    September 5, 2007 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  9. William Courtland, Waterford, Ontario


    September 5, 2007 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  10. Mike, Washington DC

    Ron Paul's response to "Even if we lose elections, we should not lose our honor." was the following:

    "We have lost over 5000 over there in Afganistan and Iraq. How many more do you want to lose? How long are you going to be there? How long? What do we have to pay to save face? Thats all we're doing is saving face. Its time we come home."

    September 5, 2007 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  11. Jeff C, San Francisco

    Sounds like Huckabee is taking a page out of the Bush playbook: if you do something stupid that ruins peoples' lives, you then stick with it because acknowledging your mistakes would look like weakness. That is exactly backwards.

    September 5, 2007 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  12. Michael, Anaheim, CA

    Why doesn't CNN add Ron Paul's response to Huckabee about how many soldiers have to die so that we can save face? I thought that was the real zinger of the exchange.

    September 5, 2007 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  13. Brett Fischer, Kansas City MO

    Dear CNN,

    If you're going to make a headline like, "Huckabee and Paul tussle on Iraq", then put a picture of them both in the article and not just one... Huckabee.



    September 5, 2007 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  14. J.Barnes, Houston, TX

    The only one with honor in this exchange was Dr. Paul. 1 dead American soldier in an unjust war is too many - this is an abomination. Why so many self-proclaimed religious people choose death over diplomacy is incomprehensible. Instead of evolving as a country and as a people, we have continuously regressed. If Dr. Paul does not win the nomination the Republican party has absolutely NO chance of winning the election in November '08... None. And deservedly so. The large majority of people in this country don’t want this war, the Iraqi government we’ve set up has said they don’t need us there, but apparently a small group of men with corporate ties want to keep sending our young men and women into a meat grinder no matter how many American and Iraqi families they ruin.

    September 5, 2007 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  15. mb, nyc

    This is all rather pointless now that Thompson is in the race.

    September 5, 2007 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  16. Pamela - Carlsbad, NM

    Ron Paul has my vote... not that I'm naive enough to believe that our votes count.

    September 5, 2007 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |


    September 5, 2007 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  18. George Hozendorf Hot Springs, AR

    I never thought much of Mike Huckabee when he was my Governor and won't vote for him or any other Republican. But, for once he got something right. We let the Bush administration talk us into a war we had not business starting. We have no choice at this point other than to tough it out and hope a Democrat gets in the White House and can figure out how to get us out of Iraq without losing anymore face than we already have with other nations and bring our young men and women home with dignity and honor.

    September 5, 2007 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  19. Matt-Cabot, Arkansas

    Huckabee took this one. It's not so much about the honor as it is finishing the job. Paul made some good points, but think of how pointless so many deaths will be if we just throw in the towel, and call it a night. After all, we can argue that all lives lost at war are pointless, because war is pointless–it's just flexing muscles at the cost of lives.

    September 5, 2007 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  20. Peg, Brookeland, Texas

    In the 1990's I lived in the district that elected Ron Paul. Check out how he did it someday. It was a case of dems outsmarting themselves, and they're still stuck with him.

    September 5, 2007 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  21. james, claremont, ca

    It's easy to talk about having soldiers die to protect 'honor' when you're halfway around the world eating a catered lunch in an air-conditioned office.

    Huckabee's out of touch with reality.

    September 5, 2007 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  22. David A. Ricks Miami, Florida

    It's quite obvious that the writer of this article, Alexander Mooney is a Huckabee man. The article is clearly biased in Huckabee's favor and unfortunately CNN has supported his bias in the way this article is presented on the website. I agree with Paul. Huckabee's "honor" is a euphemism for "saving face." The time to leave Iraq is now.

    September 5, 2007 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  23. Ronald Fisher, Racine Wisconsin

    Paul got it right. Letting a few neoconservatives highjack our foreign policy doesn't mean we should follow in their distorted paths. If the feuding tribs can't get it together and see that we are there to help them, then we need to pull back and let them fight it out. I just hope that this administration doesn't try the same thing in Iran before it leaves.

    September 6, 2007 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  24. Juanito, Washington, DC

    Rick in Chicago:

    Did the IRAQIS ask us to invade their country? Why are they now to blame for the madness there? The Iraqis must be so grateful that we brought them Al Qaeda and car bombings....much better than before, right Rick?

    You are such an idiot.

    September 6, 2007 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  25. tom, montgomery, ala.

    I am a democrat but I like Dr. Ron Paul!!

    September 6, 2007 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
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