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. Jonathan, Cambridge, MA

    I think the bigger story here is Mike Huckabee calling the Iraq War a mistake ("If we make a mistake, we make it as a single country."). For someone as high up in the GOP polls as he now is, that's a pretty bold and risky statement to make. He'll probably back down from it if anybody bothers to question him about it (not doing so might be political suicide), but personally I would respect him tremendously if he decided to stand by it.

    It's time the Republican Party stopped being contrarian about the war for politics sake– Paul is right, that one issue is dragging down the entire party. A lot of Republicans are desperate for an alternative to the saber-rattling, stay-the-course-forever major candidates, which explains Paul's very vocal following. The GOP as a whole needs to just suck it up and start calling the Iraq War as it is so America can go back to acting in the best interests of our troops and our national security rather than our pride.

    September 6, 2007 03:10 am at 3:10 am |
  2. Jaytee, Los Angeles CA.

    Great soundbyte from Huckabee!! That's why they get the big Bucks! but appealing to our ego doesn't win wars. "You break it, you buy it", may be good for an ornament. But this is a country were talking about. And were not fixing it by staying longer. Were shattering it!

    September 6, 2007 03:22 am at 3:22 am |
  3. Daniel Park, Seoul, Korea

    Huckabee is on the ball. The US going into Iraq was a big mistake. Withdrawal would actually do more damage. It should be done to completion otherwise, Iraq will comeback to haunt the US. The long term consequences should be taken into consideration, not just the short-term pain.

    Honor before party is the right attitude. The armed forces need the resources to finish a job that they were ill-equipped to do. Hucakbee is right – the US should and must be ONE nation under God.

    Huckabee is a man who will take responsibility for his actions and the actions of the office of the President of the United States of America.

    September 6, 2007 03:25 am at 3:25 am |
  4. WC, San Francisco, CA

    Mike Huckabee knows nothing of honor, having never served in any branch of the armed forces. Ron Paul may never have served in Vietnam, but he knows well enough the issues and sacrifices servicemen and servicewomen must make in the defense of the United States.

    That said, I am an American of Vietnamese decent. My parents have told my full well of America's betrayal of South Vietnam when she needed help the most. A part of me looks at the Iraq situation through this viewpoint: we cannot betray the Iraqis now, to throw them to the wolves of Iran and Syria much as South Vietnam was given to the
    North. But another part of resigned to the fact that while everything was given to the Iraqis on a silver platter (you know, freedom?) they cannot or will not get their act together, be it out of sectarianism or sheer greed.

    We are fast approaching the critical period upon which Americans will decide on whether or not to abandon another country. But either outlook appears grim.

    September 6, 2007 03:26 am at 3:26 am |
  5. Brad, Evansville, Indiana

    Ron Paul got plenty of cheers as well. Stop framing the issues in the way most convenient for publication, please. Give the people the facts and stop fudging them, CNN. We're really really tired of it out here in America-land.

    What you SHOULD be talking about and asking is why the other candidates as well as the moderators were openly and loudly snickering and laughing at Ron Paul before and during each of his answers, which were far fewer in number and duration than ANY OTHER CANDIDATE in the field. And to those commenting, instead of calling him insane, why not do a little reading and understand the full spectrum of where this man is coming from since he obviously can't BUY a question or equal time from a TV moderator...THANKS FOX NEWS!

    September 6, 2007 03:32 am at 3:32 am |
  6. Jonathan, Cleveland, Ohio

    Not a single doubt in my mind that Paul won that argument. Huckabee was grasping at straws trying to think of reasons why his argument made sense, and to only come back with "honor?" Absolutely humiliating on his campaign.

    September 6, 2007 03:35 am at 3:35 am |
  7. Mike Jones, KZOO, MI

    It's funny because the way CNN presents this, you'd think Huckabee won this exchange, while the fact is Ron Paul had just as many cheers during this exchange and had the best crowd response throughout the entire debate. Not only did he also win the Fox News "who won the debate" texting poll by a large margin, he also managed to ignore the rude Fox News mediators and Rudy G. as they laughed and snickered every time Ron Paul addressed a question. Fox News' crap mediators fail at professionalism and Rudy G. fails at [having] class and life in general. Ron Paul should represent the Republican party.

    September 6, 2007 03:44 am at 3:44 am |
  8. Eli, Portland Oregon

    What debate was CNN watching? You guys must have broken remotes. Ron Paul got a much bigger applause. You write as if he got none. Ron Paul shot down the ridiculous notion that we need to continue a wreckless invasion just to save face.

    September 6, 2007 03:44 am at 3:44 am |
  9. Super Ball Man, Oswego, NY

    We can agree to disagree, I thought that's what United States was all about. Huckabee invoking: "one nation under God," as some sort of reasoning behind why everyone should just agree to Bush's Iraq war policy is simply outrageous. I won't insult Huckabee's intelligence like he seems to be trying to insult ours.

    What I will say is, the idea of "Honor" is a wonderful thing Mr. Huckabee, but ideas aren't everything. Since you are worried about the idea of Honor, let's also consider another idea then: Sometimes the end does not justify the means.

    It's ok to say we made a mistake. It's also ok to talk about how we can fix what we have done–broke Iraq. We have the luxury of having such discussions, those that have died, do not have such luxuries.

    For those that continue to die who are innocent, that's the real tragedy in my humble opinion. Death chooses no favorites in terms of one ideology over the other. It is time that we should realize "this particular idea" and respect it, which means we need to respect each other regardless of our opinions and value life for what it is, a miracle.

    You cannot kiss an idea. You cannot embrace and hold an idea with your bare hands. A man can kiss his daughter. A man can kiss his wife. A man should respect that other men wish to do the same as he, live.

    – Super Ball Man

    September 6, 2007 03:47 am at 3:47 am |
  10. Mari, Mesa Arizona

    Interesting discussions tonight. Thompsons late arrival to the campaign will cost him lots of votes probably. That he chose to announce someplace else during the scheduled Republican debate seems a bit "prissy" to me. Guess he does not want to be compared to realy politicians. Maybe a bit shy of the confrontation. I was not impressed of the partial broadcast of his declaration when it was repeated. He still has the problem of multiple wives and some explanation regarding the wife he has now.

    September 6, 2007 03:47 am at 3:47 am |
  11. Thane Eichenauer - Tempe, AZ

    Mr. Huckabee the neoconservative. Mr. Paul can't offer an alternative without being labeled as "against the nation" – this is a milder version of pro-peace Americans being labeled traitors. I wonder what countries Mr. Huckabee is planning to invade?

    September 6, 2007 03:48 am at 3:48 am |
  12. Ray Harmon

    Staying in Iraq in order to save face, a.k.a. honor, is not an honorable thing to do. That is what Paul said in reply to Huckabee. I like Huckabee. I think he has integrity, but his kind of thinking kept our nation in Vietnam for such a long time.

    September 6, 2007 03:49 am at 3:49 am |
  13. Mike

    I have respect for Mike Huckabee for at least admitting that the Iraq invasion was a mistake (an unheard of call from the Neocon camp,) but I still believe that Ron Paul's point is far more logical.

    September 6, 2007 03:50 am at 3:50 am |
  14. John Hoover, Edwardsville, IL

    Why don't you have the decency to post Ron Paul's reply to Huckabee's, "Even if we lose elections, we should not lose our honor"? Here, I'll do it for you, Ron Paul replied, "how much more do we have to pay just to save face?"

    And it's a question that deserves to be answered, how many American lives will it take to satisfy the NeoCon's desire to save face?

    It's sad to see that CNN is trying to pull the same garbage as Faux News.

    September 6, 2007 03:54 am at 3:54 am |
  15. russ

    What gives CNN the right to say who won this debate? Most posts so far show Paul as the one who most people agree with, why is CNN out of touch with their viewers? And what about the straw polls CNN only lists the results if Paul is not the one who comes in first.

    September 6, 2007 03:55 am at 3:55 am |
  16. Brendan Davis, Santa Monica, CA

    If the two of THEM ended up being the Republican ticket, they might have a real shot.

    Not saying that's a GOOD thing, mind you – but it bears saying.

    September 6, 2007 03:59 am at 3:59 am |
  17. hawnstyle

    I'm not a Ron Paul supporter, but I congratulate him on sticking up for what he believes. I hate when candidates use patriotism in a debate just to get a rise from the audience... that is the coward way to win a debate... Ron Paul won that debate regardless of what the so called experts say.. by the way,this is the first time I sided with Paul. Although he didn't win the debate... GO ROMNEY!!!!!

    September 6, 2007 04:03 am at 4:03 am |
  18. Tom, San Jose, California

    The conversation concluded with Dr. Paul saying "5000 American soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq plus the civilians killed. How many more (lives)do you want to lose? How long do you want to be there? What do we have to do to save face? That's all this is; its about saving face. Its time we came home".

    September 6, 2007 04:04 am at 4:04 am |
  19. Steve, Portland, OR

    It would be interesting to see the list of congressman's children that are now serving and dying in Iraq for our honor. How many in the Bush/Cheney families are there? How about a list of corporate profits directly related to this war as the last social services I talked with say they don't have enough funding from taxes.

    I do agree with we broke it. No matter how lousy of intelligence YOU guys had, congress as well as excutive branch are certainly to blame for leading us down this path. We certainly don't need to leave it up to historians to decide if we should have attacked and occupied this country. At this point anyone with half a brain knows that answer.Both parties are responsible for this mess, not the American people that put their trust in their government.Yet once agian in the land of the unaccoutable we are gonna wait for the historians?.We are not amused.

    September 6, 2007 04:08 am at 4:08 am |
  20. Tom Norwich CT

    Ron Paul wiped the floor with Huckabee and the rest of the neo-warriors.

    September 6, 2007 04:10 am at 4:10 am |
  21. Garland

    Ron Paul won the exchange. This blog entry, by the way, is missing what Ron Paul said in response to Huckabee's self-serving "even if we lose elections, we should not lose our honor" comment"

    He said: "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."

    He got the last word in, not Huckabee.

    Ron Paul is 100% correct too. The Republican Party will lose this next election if they nominate a pro-war candidate. It's important for the Republican Party to realize that.

    However, it isn't, and Ron Paul knows this. The most important reason to oppose the war is that it is a war that cannot be won with no clear objective that is putting us more at risk.

    Sure the surge seems to be working, but those are military accomplishments and there simply is no military solution in Iraq. The other candidates need to wake the hell up and realize this. No matter how hard our military fights, and they're doing such an amazing job, unless there's a political solution it won't matter. The Iraqi government has to get its house in order and the Iraqi factions have to reconcile their differences and their will never be peace and stability in Iraq. Sadly, as they keep missing benchmark after benchmark, I have no confidence that they will and actually believe our occupation of Iraq makes things worse by giving them an excuse not to. Perhaps if we left they'd be forced to find a political solution, which they don't have to do and won't do so long as we're there.

    That's the flaw with Huckabee's rip-off of Colin Powell and later John Kerry's "pottery barn rule" belief that "we broke it, we fix it" because we CAN'T FIX IT. Only the Iraqi people can and the Iraqi government and the Iraqi factions by finding a political solution and like I've already said, they won't, at least so long as we're there.

    Finally, most importantly, we need to put America and the American people first, not the Iraqi people. Ron Paul understands this and that's what he will do. Huckabee, after his "we broke it we fix it" comment, apparently doesn't because he seems perfectly willing to put Iraq first and America second by continuing to spend time, effort, money and lives to "fix" Iraq no matter how many lives it costs and how much money it costs. No matter how much it hurts America and puts us at risk and allows terrorist groups to recruit new terrorists due to the building resentment of America that we create from continuing to occupy Iraq and being part of the bloodshed there.

    I've got news for Huckabee: There's no "honor" in that.

    September 6, 2007 04:12 am at 4:12 am |
  22. Rick Knecht, Anchorage Alaska

    Ron Paul is an honest Republican when it comes to the war. That makes him a rare bird indeed.

    September 6, 2007 04:12 am at 4:12 am |
  23. Journalist, Indianapolis, Indiana

    This article is incorrectly written and I object to it with bias.
    #1 Ron Paul had the loudest cheers out of the exchange. Reading this article makes one think that Hucklebee commanded the stage.
    #2 Ron Paul had the last word in the exchanged–which was not posted.

    I believe that CNN needs to be more honest with their representations of the story and by no means spit hairs between fact and reality to their myth.

    The people also need to be aware of the trickery within our news media who writes articles to cause perception to be skewed from reality and I challenge the American people to become more aware of this practice as it's unethical and unprofessional.

    September 6, 2007 04:13 am at 4:13 am |
  24. Michael Columbus OH

    Go Ron Paul!
    What Huckabee 'Honor' is worth the lives of over 5000 brave American men and women?
    Dr. Paul puts it best, "We have lost over 5000 Americans killed in Afghanistan in Iraq plus the civilians killed . . . What do we have to do to save-face?. . . It's time we came Home!"

    September 6, 2007 04:21 am at 4:21 am |
  25. Greg, Wichita KS

    In every debate it seems they try to send someone up against Paul. The first debate they used Rudy, who interrupted Paul in the middle of one of his questions. In another debate, Mitt tried to interrupt as well, but having learned from the previous debate, Paul wasn't going to allow it and quickly raised his voice to continue answering his question. And now, we see Huckabee making an attempt. But Paul has successfully won all three exchanges, and he's done so because he's been consistently correct.

    September 6, 2007 04:24 am at 4:24 am |
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