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. Vinny, NYC, NY

    Although judging by the audience reaction, Paul might've won the argument, in the end, I think most of the Republicans nationwide agree more with Huckabee's stance. Hell, I think even a big chunk of democrats might agree with Huckabee. There are definitely dems that are of the opinion that regardless of whether going in was a mistake, we're in there now, and we just can't up and leave Iraq in chaos.

    I almost feel sorry for Ron Paul, because this one thing about wanting an immediate precipitous withdrawal from Iraq is probably the single most damaging stance that's costing him votes for the Republican primary. Don't get me wrong, many of his other views probably cost him votes too, but I think it's the Iraq view that costs him the most. Sure, he gains some support for it, but in the overall balance, the costs far outweigh the return.

    Huckabee is an everyman. He's a happy-go-lucky type. I think he'll do just fine. Personally, I like Rudy, but Huckabee has surprised me with his personality.

    September 6, 2007 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  2. Don, Irvine CA

    Using poor metaphors and the veil of pseudo patriotism to disguise vacuous statments is hardly any thing to get excited over.

    Any candidate in favor of allowing more men and women to die in order to salve some false sense of national bravado is insane. The honor of this country as a whole was sullied when we bought into the a policy of preemptive war, and domestic spying. "Staying the course" will do nothing to change that.

    September 6, 2007 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  3. Jim Donovan, Placerville, CA

    Ron Paul speaks as a person. Huckabee speaks as a Politician (capitalization intended). Political correctness is going to kill our soldiers and divide our nation. It is time for a radical change, believe it or not, and Ron Paul has it in hand. Unfortunately, the political and media machine will not allow it. Too many American citizens are too afraid of rocking the boat.

    September 6, 2007 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  4. Allen, Redlands CA

    "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."

    What does that mean?

    Our soldiers went to Iraq when they were told to, and they will return when they are told to. By doing so they are honorable.

    Keeping them there to prove a petty political point is what is dishonorable and is what Republicans fail to comprehend.

    September 6, 2007 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  5. Michael Gunnoe

    And while I think about it, the statement about "breaking it so we bought it" works fine in a pottery shop, it fails miserably when we talk about the death and maiming of thousands of human beings, both American and Iraqi in the ghastly failure of this war. I say again, support our brave men and women in the military, bring them home!

    September 6, 2007 02:12 am at 2:12 am |
  6. Tracy, Bothell, WA

    Nice how the article also fails to mention that the crowd also roared after each of Paul's rebuttals.

    September 6, 2007 02:13 am at 2:13 am |
  7. Adam, Austin, TX

    You cut off the last word in the debate from Ron Paul:

    REP. PAUL: We’re losing - we’ve lost over - (cheers, applause) - we have lost - we have lost 5,000 Americans killed in - we’ve lost over 5,000 Americans over there in Afghanistan and Iraq and plus the civilians killed. How many more do you want to lose? How long are we going to be there? How long - what do we have to pay to save face? That’s all we’re doing is saving face. It’s time we came home!

    September 6, 2007 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  8. Jason Houston, TX

    What Huckabee says, certainly brings forth a fountain of patriotism,but also and incredible sense of disappointment. While what he said is mostly true what Ron Paul is saying is Completely true. George Bush and his puppet masters have taken everything this country stands for and bent it and manipulated it to fit their needs. To think that a time would come in America where it would make you unpatriotic to criticize the president as if HE was the country. This country is made of PEOPLE not a person, to let the President be the embodiment of the American people is a terrible idea because as bad as some of us may think it is now, it could be worse.

    September 6, 2007 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  9. Patrick, New York, NY

    Ron Paul Revolution!!!

    Winning War on Terror=Stopping terror attacks

    Ron's Formula is:
    Stop dependence on oil+stop Israeli Lobby= stop meddling in the Middle East= No more terror attacks

    September 6, 2007 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
  10. Ricky Rodriguez, Miami, Florida

    Dr. Ron Pauluses logic and facts ... he does not play on emotional arguments which are just pretty sounding words but in reality bear no true answer in the real struggles America is facing...
    -Ricky Rodriguez
    Miami, Florida

    September 6, 2007 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
  11. xo, los angeles & ca

    I'm sick and tired of this Republicans taking about a WAR when most of them have not serve nor have thier children. There is no honor in an unconstituional WAR. Soldiers wil never want to quite. This is way they are not the decision makers. This is why great players don't make great coaches. They think with too much emotion. It is a leaders job to do what is in the best interest of our troops as a whole even if it means living to fight another day. The bias against Paul hurts. I hate to see fools laughing at him while they question him. I hate to see these idiots misquote him while looking right at him. I always want the Republican party to just lose every seat. They have lost their way and have no idea what value really means. ** And note, why have I not heard of a politician's son dying in Iraq....Because they don't fight. Our kids go and die, while their's stay at the HQ for a while, come back home and run for OFFICE. Duncan Hunter, you get no respect from me. **

    September 6, 2007 02:25 am at 2:25 am |
  12. Ryan, San Antonio, TX

    This article is obviously biased – mentioning the applause Hucky got, but not the applause Ron Paul received. Plus, Paul got in the last word which is mysteriously absent from the end of the quoted exchange.

    Continuing on with an illegal and immoral occupation is anything but honorable. As an Iraq veteran who's serving a second tour in the occupation, I find Hucky's remarks on honor very shallow, naive, and insulting.

    It is never honorable to fall lockstep in line with a war policy when the war is illegal and undeclared and the government is corrupt, spending unconrollably, and power-hungry. Dissent is patriotic as well as honorable.

    September 6, 2007 02:30 am at 2:30 am |
  13. Ken, Orange County, CA

    To Mike from Orange County. I very respectfully disagree with your comments. Huckabee is too loyal to President Bush. Ron Paul seems to be the only one in the Republican pary who knows what is really going on.

    September 6, 2007 02:32 am at 2:32 am |
  14. Jenkins

    It's amusing that we have two politicians arguing over "honor."

    September 6, 2007 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  15. Julius Beasley, Greenville NC

    God Bless the fact one candidate who uses his brain over his gut, Ron Paul, was on that stage tonight

    September 6, 2007 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  16. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    Ron Paul isn't a Republican – he's libertarian. He wants to do away with IRS, CIA, FBI, Homeland Security, Dept of Education. If he were elected... "good luck people – you're on your own".

    Mike Huckabee had the moment of the debate over Ron Paul.

    Ron Paul just put himself permanently in the category of Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader... an oddity that will never garner enough support to win a national election. Oh Ron will have his die-hard libertarian isolationist followers but his willingness to cut-and-run regardless of honor will alienate the core group of conservatives.

    September 6, 2007 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  17. Stan

    What isn't quoted is Ron Paul replying that 5,000 people have died in this war, how many more have to die so the Neocons can save face?

    September 6, 2007 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
  18. Jason, LA, CA

    This article forgets to mention Ron Paul's closing statement in this exchange with Huckabee. Ron Paul said "PAUL: We have lost over 5,000 Americans killed in - we've lost over 5,000 Americans over there in Afghanistan, in Iraq and plus the civilians killed. How many more you want to lose? How long are you going to be there?

    How long - what do we have to pay to save face? That's all we're doing, is saving face. It's time we came home." That is pretty crucial to understanding the exchange and really seeing who won. The article should be titled "GOP wants to save face, Ron Paul to save lives, money and freedom"

    September 6, 2007 02:37 am at 2:37 am |
  19. Tony, Lawrence, KS

    Huckabee's comments will resonate with the nationalists in the GOP, but that doesn't make him right. Paul is right here. We may have screwed it up, but Huckabee assumes that we can somehow fix such a major screw up. At this point, the only way to fix it is to let the Iraqi's sort it out themselves.

    America cannot fix this and the longer we say, the more disasterous it is for us. Huckabee refuses to see the obvious.

    September 6, 2007 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  20. Cindy

    Ron Paul is correct in his thinking.

    The "we" is the people who lied about going to war in the first place they already lost their honor.

    September 6, 2007 02:40 am at 2:40 am |
  21. Queens, NY

    Real nice how you cut out Ron Paul's last comment when he sums up Huckabee's view: People are dying in order for America to save face.

    BTW you ignore the part where Ron Paul was getting as much applause as Huckabee.

    September 6, 2007 02:44 am at 2:44 am |
  22. Jan Brennan, Pa

    This talk of honor is the same as when we were in Vietnam. When we finally came to our senses and brought the troops home our wonderful soldiers where spit on, yelled at, and shunned...and why??? Because we KNEW we were wrong and we hid our embarrassment by blaming the honorable soldiers. We NEED to admit that we were wrong again!!!! But this time, don't spit on, yell at, and shun our brave men and women that defend us...spit on, yell at, and shun the few money mongers that put us over there in yet ANOTHER undeclared war!!!

    September 6, 2007 02:46 am at 2:46 am |
  23. Dave, St. Clairsville, Ohio

    I don't believe that American's question the honor of individual soldiers. I do however question the honor of our country in not taking in Iraqi refugees since we broke their nation.

    September 6, 2007 02:48 am at 2:48 am |
  24. Roger C. Wentworth

    WE made a mistake, Mr. Huckabee? I don't know about you, but I sure didn't invade Iraq.

    I saw the debate tonight, and as a longtime conservative, I have been very disturbed at the treatment of Ron Paul by the Republican Party and their shills at Fox News. If Paul does not win the nomination, I am for the first time in my life considering voting Democrat.

    The only mistake the American people have made is not voting all these nuts out of office, a mistake that will hopefully soon be corrected.

    September 6, 2007 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
  25. Joe K, Union Gap, Washington

    How many lives is "Honor" worth? Start the Draft again and I'm sure we'll see. Mr. Bush absolutely must keep us involved in the battle for Iraq until he is out of office, because he knows that withdrawing now will lead to a collapse of the government we're trying to impose (which is quite probably inevitable in any case since the terrorists and insurgents have the home court advantage and can outlast us) – and, if politicians have any degree of integrity, Mr. Bush knows that this would lead to impeachment proceedings against him. I wonder how many additional lives would have been lost in Viet Nam if “Honor” had been so highly valued over common sense. We, as a caring nation, owe it to those poor souls who Mr. Bush has so carelessly sacrificed, to right that enormous wrong by holding those responsible for this grand atrocity accountable before the eyes of the world.

    September 6, 2007 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
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