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. JB Brooklyn, New York

    "We were neck deep in the Big Muddy And the big fool said to push on."

    September 6, 2007 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  2. James, Lincoln, NE

    At least Huckabee's argument doesn't involve invoking 9/11. Still, I can't help but notice a problem with this exchange.

    Huckabee has a flaw in his argument. He seems to be stating, "Our soldiers have died in Iraq. To leave (before the job is done) would be to dishonor their memory. Therefore we must stay." But, what does it mean to have the job done? There is talk about making Iraq stable, but what is the definition? What is it we're looking for? This idea is constantly tossed about, but I never hear of any tangible objectives. Without this, we're stuck there until the end of time, and debate devolves into personal attacks.

    Furthermore, he's assuming this abstract stability (whatever it is) can actually still be accomplished. Will there ever be a point in his mind in which we finally say, "Screw it, Iraq will never be fixed. Let's leave." If there isn't, I think he needs to reassess his reasoning. To keep our troops mired in Iraq, after seeing countless examples that the only result will be their demise and that it will serve no purpose, THAT is the way to dishonor their memory. A pointless sacrifice (in this case, death that leads us no closer to a stable Iraq), no matter how honorable the intentions, is still a pointless sacrifice.

    Why are we talking about honor anyway? That's just invoking emotions. We need to talk about this in terms of realistic objectives, not this pseudo-patriotic garbage that passes for debate these days.

    And I agree with Ron Paul that we'd be better off not having an offensive styled military. It overextends us, and inflames other regions. Not a good way to spread peace, is it?

    September 6, 2007 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  3. Tom, Nashville TN

    "Our" honor went out the window years ago.

    September 6, 2007 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  4. Craig L. Combs, Cardiff, CA

    Mr. Mooney, twist and slant it as much as you like. Ron Paul won the exchange; the only thing "dramatic" about Huckabee's statements was it highlighted his out-dated attempts at soundbite over substance.

    September 6, 2007 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  5. RandyT (USN retired)

    Paul speaks the truth on Iraq. Neo-conservative, never seen combat, warmongers took us to Iraq over oil and a Bush family feud. We may have broke it, but going on a trillion dollars later, near 4,000 dead American kids we can do nothing more for the Iraq blood takers – it is time to draft the chicken hawks and their kids and send them over to FIX it so real American heroes can come home.

    One country? Not according to Bush, Bush’s Brain and Cheney, for them it is only the rich and the 51% that believed their lies. The rest of the country they do not care about. Just ask people in the Gulf Coast I am sure they don’t think we are one country.

    Ask the people that were killed on the bridge in MN because we can fight the rich man’s war but can’t keep our bridges in safe conditions. Bet they don’t think we are one country.

    Ask the 47 million and counting folks without healthcare while the rest of the civilized world covers all their citizens. They don’t think we are one country.

    Ask the gays that the Republicans bash all the while hunting sex from under age pages and tapping their horny feet in public restrooms, bet they don’t think we are one country.

    September 6, 2007 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  6. Tim Eaton, Corte Madera CA

    "We've got a responsibility to the honor of this country...."
    Give it a rest: WAR IS A RACKET
    ...industrialists whose operations were subsidised by public funding were able to generate substantial profits essentially from mass human suffering.

    September 6, 2007 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  7. Dan Binder, Palm Coast, Florida

    All I can say is "Wow!". I have rarely seen a politician challenge the common misperception that "the terrorists hate us because we are free". Ron Paul was only given 30 seconds in the first thirty minutes, and that 30 second question was about another candidate. When he finally got his few minutes to speak, he owned the floor with his no nonsense bluntness.

    What upset me the most was FOX and their moderators. The treatment Dr. Paul got from the moderators and other candidates was horrible and unprofessional!

    Why is that the most conservative of the GOP candidates, the only one that could beat the DNC candidate in the upcoming election is the one being attacked by the rest ? It makes no sense, and I think the american public is now seeing how blatant the involvement of the mass media is with the political process. If you don't think Paul got the shaft in terms of people laughing while he was talking and moderators attributing him with statements he did not make, you're blind.

    This upcoming election will be the most important in a very long time.We need to realize that it is our foriegn interventionist policies that have contributed to the destabilizing of the middle east, and that when we entangle ourselves in the affairs of other nations, we end up in big messes. It is time to reexamine our policies, because as things presently stand, we are just fostering resentment and creating seeds for more and more terrorists.

    CNN, we will be watching you too, to see if you give Kukinich and Gravel equal time to state their positions and treat them with the respect that FOX moderators did not do with Paul!

    September 6, 2007 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  8. Trollmaster, CA

    So what Huckabee is saying is that Americans should continue to die for a mistake.

    Not at all a good platform to run on.

    September 6, 2007 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  9. Bo Slava, Pompano Beach Florida

    What no one says is there are not enough troops to continue the surge. When they say it is working they are telling a half truth, a surge will give enough to police a small area or province but there are not enough troops to continue the policing unless they start a draft of American kids. Once you draw back the insurgents reappear and unless you draft more soldiers there are not enough troops to continue. It is either stay in Iraq with a draft, stay in Iraq with the same troops wearing them out physically and mentally until we have no military able to continue or leave. So Ron Paul makes the most sense and just leave now before we ruin the military.

    September 6, 2007 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  10. Ryan, Minneapolis, MN

    A fool can become a wiseman if he chooses to learn from his mistakes. If he continues to act foolish, then a fool he remains. There is more honor in admitting your wrong and stopping what you are doing, then to continue on the same path. It is most honorable to bring our troops home and let the DOD assume the behavior it was meant to have, DEFENSE.
    We need to stop our preemptive warring behavior, stop nation building, and be much more non-interventionist.

    Huckabee's logic is very flawed. Yeah we broke it, but we cannot afford it. Let Iraqi people put it back together, as it is thier country after all.

    September 6, 2007 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  11. ThirstyJon, Freedomville, Illinois

    I agree with Huckabee on this one, I admire his guts and am looking forward to hearing more from him.

    I am tired of hearing from the people who need us to lose in Iraq so that their beliefs about it are justified.


    September 6, 2007 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  12. Ryan, Overland Park, KS

    Ron Paul stayed consistent and was going for the common sense, logical message vs. Huckabee's emotional message. Paul hit the nail on the head: "What do we have to do to save face?"

    September 6, 2007 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  13. Geoff, Alameda, CA

    We've lost our "Honor" long ago under this administration... what the hell is Huckabee talking about?

    At least Ron Paul is speaking the TRUTH in the face of the emotionally-manipulated, bleating sheep in that audience. Now THAT'S honorable!

    September 6, 2007 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  14. Nathan, Mankato MN

    What about the rest of the exchange? Ron Paul had the last words, but you did not include them:

    “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 6, 2007 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  15. Former Neo-con, Pensacola, FL

    New slogan for Huckabee:
    "Your blood. Your money. My honor."

    September 6, 2007 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  16. Frank, Manchester NH

    I think Duncan Hunter is the real answer, but as someone at the debate the audience cheered much more loudly for Paul than Huckabee - maybe they tuned down the mics at those applause points?

    September 6, 2007 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  17. Andrew, NJ

    Honor? How arrogant. Men and women are dying overseas every day...over an unjustified war, and this douche only cares about honor.

    And GOP taking honor of winning election? HAHAHAHA if that was the case the current front runners wouldn't have been liberals who disagree with conservatives on almost all issues

    September 6, 2007 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  18. Anonymous

    Huckabee is a chicken hawk. He has no integrity. At least ron paul served his country.

    September 6, 2007 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  19. Jesse, Mountain View CA

    We the People have the responsibility to elect leaders with a sane, defensive, foreign policy. We do not have to sacrifice ourselves and our income to save face for Bush and his cronies.

    The honorable thing to do his bring our troops home to defend American, not occupy a country and engage in reckless nation building

    September 6, 2007 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  20. Lance in Monrovia, CA

    Mr. Huckabee says we should not lose our honor? It is too late for that sir. We lost our honor the moment we blindly followed a neoconservative idealouge into a disasterous and unnecessary conflict.

    It will not work to simply rehash the Vietnam phrase, "if we don't fight them there, we'll be fighting them here."

    The truth of the matter is, we haven't been attacked because a few months after 911 Bush pulled out of his only strategic and legit base in the middle east, in Saudi Arabia, which is what got Bin Laden fired up to begin with.

    The bottom line is, people will die if we stay, they'll die if we leave, they've been dying for thousands of years in the middle east. We cannot play mother superior to the world. We should not also blindly and stupidly abandon them either, and no candidate is talking about that with perhaps the exception of Bill Richardson who doesn't have clue number one.

    Obama and Clinton and Paul all in have said that withdrawing forces should be done gradually and in an orderly fashion that maintains order.

    If we're worried about the influence of Iran, waaayy too late. Our presence in Iraq has made Iran a power player in the region and whether we go or stay that won't change.

    It is a crime, a travesty to simply pin the Iraq war to the war on terror. Al Queda is there because we are there. They would not be tolerated otherwise.

    For the last time, Saddam didn't have nukes, he didn't support Al Queda, he was a secularist, and the entire middle east stands a much greater chance of collapse the longer we pursue greedy oil laws in Iraq that will give away 80 percent of Iraq's oil to Chevron and BP in the lame hopes that it will break OPEC and make a few rich white guys even richer.

    The Iraqis wont give up their oil without a fight, and the neocons won't give up Iraq without a signed oil law.

    That is the absolute bottom line of what it all comes down to, and Ron Paul is right to call a spade a spade when he sees one.

    At least if he was the Repub candidate, Obama would have someone interesting to debate and it might be a contest worth watching.

    Of course, to Ron Paul, ending the Iraq war is an end all be all of his campaign, for Obama, ending the Iraq war is simply the beginning of a bold agenda he's setting for the country that actually just might drag us out of the greedy, morally ambiguous, downright partisan nasty decade we've just endured.

    It inspires me to see Obama and Paul actually talking about the issues, and it astounds me at just how far out of touch every other Republican candidate actually is. I mean, they're literally dinosaurs trapped in their own fossil fuel mud, propped up by their trophy wives just long enough to ignite the good ol' boy cigars that they only hope will finally do the world a favor and blow us all up.

    But luckily it ain't gonna happen, because Barack Obama has such a groundswell, so much of a grass roots head start on these other dinosaurs, he will be unbeatable by the time they give him the nod.

    Obama 08

    September 6, 2007 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  21. Patrick, New York, NY


    Formula= Stop dependence on oil+stop the Israeli Lobby= No need to meddle in middle eastern affairs= no reason for them to hate us and no more terrorist attacks

    September 6, 2007 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  22. John Anderson, Phoenix, AZ

    Who's honor? The honor of the American people? I think not! The American people do not support this war! Huckabee said, plain as day, that we should bankrupt the nation and put U.S. servicemen in danger so the Republican party can save face.

    September 6, 2007 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  23. Jason, Lancaster, Pa

    Ron Paul just made more sense. Too bad, Fox News made him to be an idiot (adding laughs before he speaks) and wording questions to make him look bad before he can elaborate on a statement.

    September 6, 2007 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  24. Bruce Arnold, Anderson, Missouri

    I used to like Huckabee, though I prefer Ron Paul. – But Huckabee lost all my goodwill because of this exchange. Huckabee just kept saying "honor" "Honor" "HONOR!" (Three times in one sentence... Four times in all.!)
    That's just playing to the emotions of the crowd. That's not the words of a statesman. I'm very disappointed in Huckabee.

    September 6, 2007 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  25. Rob, Indianapolis, Indiana

    Ron Paul is the only one who makes any sense. 70% of the American people want us to leave Iraq. It is the politicians duties to represent the PEOPLE. I also enjoy how Dr. Paul wants to directly interpret the Constitution (you know, the thing that we base our entire country on), instead of trying to spin his own ideas off it. God Bless Ron Paul, give me liberty and get the Federal Goverment out of my business!

    September 6, 2007 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
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