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. Julie, Damascus, Maryland

    I don't believe Huckabee got the last word... Ron Paul did...

    September 6, 2007 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  2. John, Redwood City, CA

    What Mike Huckabee and the rest of the candidates don't seem to understand is that Paul wants to change a foreign policy that has failed and put us in a seemingly inescapable quagmire. Huckabee's pathos-oriented rhetoric of "honor" can only go so far if the current policy is fatally flawed. Congressman Paul is the only candidate who truly understands this.

    September 6, 2007 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  3. David, Carbondale, IL

    It's pretty sad when a Presidential candidate would actually place saving some nonexistent, long-lost "honor" over saving American lives.
    The Republican candidates who support this war are the lunatics. Ron Paul is the only sane man in the bunch, and the only Republican with a prayer of winning this election.

    September 6, 2007 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  4. Mason Myatt, Birmmingham, AL

    I am told that a standard refrain in rehab units is to make the point that one characteristic of craziness is continuing to do the same thing but expecting different results. The current Bush policy has absolutely nothing to do with national honor or the honor of those who have served in Iraq. It is hubris, not honor directing the administration. How better to honor the troops than to preserve their lives against a war that is a mistake. As Americans and Iraqis die needlessly, the terrorists are regaining Afghanistan and using anti-American sentiment generated by the war to recruit more terrorists. It is way past time to acknowledge the abject failure of the neo-con agenda and to proceed against ideological extremism in a manner consistent with and in honor of our fundamental American values Neo-con extremism is a symptom of the same human disease that is also producing Islamic extremism. America is more directly at risk from our homegrown extremists than we will ever be from Islamic ideologues.

    September 6, 2007 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  5. Joseph Bolz, Bonner Springs, Ks

    Ooh looks like the Communist News Network just committed another one of those dirty little sins of omission. As the final word in the exchange by Congressman Paul was left out. But you can see it all on You Tube!

    September 6, 2007 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  6. Pam Tremblay

    I love my country. I love our military. I love our ethnic and cultural diversity because it's what America is all about. I can only support a candidate that understands all of these ideals- Ron Paul.

    September 6, 2007 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  7. Alex, Bowling Green, Ky

    We all can see the common sense coming from Ron Paul; I just don't see it in the indecisiveness of the other candidates. Ron Paul stands by the Constitution!

    September 6, 2007 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  8. Ivan, Chicago, Illinois

    Ron Paul came close to admitting that the country was lied to by Bush and his adminstration to get us into this war. Mr. Huckabee where's the honor in that? Mr. Huckabee you are asking more American to die just you can save face, where is the honor in that? You say you want to leave whether we should have gone into Iraq, up to the historians, but I'm willing to bet that if it was a democratic President instead of a republican President you would be in the forefront blaming the democratic President not waiting to leave the discussion to the historians.

    September 6, 2007 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  9. Jason - Columbus, Ohio

    Honor, I think it's time we learn to swallow our pride and stop sending our youth to die for baby boomer honor. This is nuts!!

    September 6, 2007 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  10. Seekster, Arlington, TX

    Ron Paul is becoming unhinged. His comments during this most recent debate show me that he is unfit to lead this nation. Huckabee on the other hand might make a good vice-president for President Fred Thompson.

    September 6, 2007 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  11. Dustin Cane Beds Az

    Ron Paul has pointed out that this war should have been declared by congress, which is the only lawful way to go to war, authorized by the constitution. Now, there were other candidates who finally began using Paul's language about their oath to uphold the constitution, witch Paul has reminded us all of repeatedly. Why didn't Chris Wallace bring that up or question the other candidates about that fact rather than erroneously trying to accuse Paul of taking our marching orders from Al-Qaida? Paul responded perfectly, "NO" he said " We should take our marching orders from the costituion"! Did we declare it constitutionally? Please, other candidates, answer this. Ron Paul is steering the debates. Huck, we should stand together as one nation, remember 70% of the American people want a change. More troops gave to Ron Paul's campaign than any other candidate. Next time lets declare the war the way we are supposed to and get a mandate from the people. Lets all stand together as Americans, no matter what your party, or which candidate you are, lets all stand for the

    September 6, 2007 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  12. Eric, Los Angeles, CA

    Why did you end the article prematurely? Im going to assume it was an honest mistake. You forgot the rest of the exchange:

    Paul: We've lost 5000 americans over there in Aghanastan and Araq and plus the 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? Thats all we are doing is saving face. Its time WE CAME HOME.

    September 6, 2007 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  13. Dave Henning

    I am a huge Ron Paul supporter, but I was disappointed that Dr. Paul even mentioned the fact that the position could cost the Republicans the next election. For a second, he forgot who he was and tried to be a politician. In general, I wish Dr. Paul would stop being argumentative and just keep his cool like he does in front of Congress. At the same time, given the way he is treated by the Sean Hannitys of the world, I don't blame him for being on the defensive.

    I disagree with Huckabee's position, but I commend his stance. He first admits we made a mistake going in, which by itself is not easy. Then he felt we had a moral responsibility to fix our mistakes, which is equally difficult to sell to the voters.

    If Dr. Paul doesn't win the nomination, I would hope for Huckabee. At the very least, I think he is honest.

    September 6, 2007 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  14. ChadO Santa barbara, CA

    Dr. Paul and Gov. Huckabee both had good points, but in the end we should look at what is most in line with our constitution, not just our honor. There is always honor in doing the right thing, and always shame when we do things in anger. We've had great leaders, great ones. We don't need a hollywood romantic candidate that make us feel good, we need a Champion for the constitution, someone to follow the guild lines of our founding fathers. Who can do this?

    September 6, 2007 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  15. Jared, Vancouver, WA

    Ron Paul destroyed the competition because he was the only one standing up for the precise message the founding fathers gave us. To preserve our Republic, we must honor and obey the Constitution and Bill of Rights. No illegal, unneccesary wars or foreign entanglements. Ron Paul–Hope for America 2008

    September 6, 2007 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  16. Bill (San Diego, CA)

    Ron Paul George and Ringo may have won the moment, but he won't come close to being the Republican nominee

    September 6, 2007 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  17. Anonymous

    Hey Rick, speaking of that incredibly long grace period we gave the Iraqis, how long did it take for us to get the United States up and running with all the government in place and functioning?

    September 6, 2007 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  18. david, philadelphia, pa.

    "keep eating our mistake" eventually we will get a tummy ache

    September 6, 2007 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  19. Josh, Boston, MA

    You omitted the end of the exchange, in which Ron Paul replied "We've already lost 5000 American lives, not counting the Iraqi civilians. How many more lives do you want to lose? What do we have to pay to *save face*?" This
    historic riposte won the debate for him in my eyes.

    September 6, 2007 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  20. Tyler

    Honor comes before life? Especially when the soldiers can't choose whether or not they want to fight for their own "honor" when most soldiers signed up to defend THIS country... Not going overseas for years defending another country and democracy for people who don't even want it.

    September 6, 2007 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  21. Carl, Lake City FLA

    Doesn't anybody care what the military members think? As one of them (recently retired) I can tell you that while there are some who want out, an overwhelming majority of us would prefer to finish our mission without the criticism of our commanders by our so called leaders in Washington, news media, bloggers, and by our fellow Americans that only see what the media allows them to see. Please, let us do our job.

    September 6, 2007 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  22. Miguel, San Diego, CA

    The Republicans are going to have a political annihilation come next election. Keep it up and stay the course Huckabee!

    September 6, 2007 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  23. PollM

    What candidate did the Fox News debate bring you closer to --->

    September 6, 2007 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  24. The Internet, Rogers Arkansas

    I live in Arkansas.....Huckabee is horrible.

    RON PAUL 2008

    September 6, 2007 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  25. Michael Gunnoe

    It is amazing to me that some people think our "honor" requires us to sacrifice 3700 more young Americans, the best and the brighest,in an ill conceived and unsupported invasion, that obviously has failed in even it's most basic goals so that we can prove what? Wake up our brave men and women in the military, bring them home!

    September 6, 2007 01:59 am at 1:59 am |
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