December 27th, 2007
08:02 PM ET
13 years ago

Huckabee explains Pakistan comment

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(CNN) - Mike Huckabee – whose foreign policy credentials have been under a microscope since he admitted to journalists that he was unaware of a major report on Iran’s nuclear weapons program – appeared to make another minor gaffe Thursday when he seemed to suggest incorrectly that Pakistan was currently under martial law.

At an Orlando press conference, the former Arkansas governor told reporters that the United States’ first priority should be to find the responsible parties.

“But the most urgent thing to do is to offer our sincere sympathies and concerns to the family and to the people of Pakistan, and that’s the first thing we would be doing other than, again, trying to ascertain who’s behind it, and what impact does it have on whether or not there’s going to be martial law continued in Pakistan, suspension of the constitution,” said Huckabee. “Those are concerns that the United States certainly should have."

Conservative critics immediately pointed out that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf lifted the country’s state of martial law roughly two weeks ago. The slip "ought to be really bad news for Huckabee," said the National Review's Jim Geraghty, writing on the magazine's Web site. "...I'm not sure how big assassination-related news will play in the first primary states. Still, I think those misstatements will exacerbate the Huck/Not Huck divide in GOP circles." The National Review has endorsed Huckabee's Republican rival Mitt Romney.

UPDATE: In a statement Thursday night, the Huckabee campaign said: "Gov. Huckabee firmly believes that emergency rule/martial law in Pakistan, as a practical matter, should not be viewed as having been completely lifted until the restrictions imposed during that period on the press and judges are removed.

"Although General Musharraf let the pendulum swing a little more freely in the last few weeks, the overall policy, which is what the Governor was addressing in his comments, has been, and continues to be, repressive."

Later Thursday, at an event in West Des Moines, Huckabee told CNN that "it was not that I was unaware it was suspended, two weeks ago, lifted. ...The point was, would it be reinstated, would it be placed back in? All of the aspects of martial law have not been completely lifted even now. There's still a heavy hand Musarraf has used."

He added, "We ought to have immediate, very clear monitoring of our borders, and particularly to make sure if there's any unusual activity of Pakistanis coming into the country. We just need to be very, very thorough in looking at every aspect of our own security internally, because we live in a very dangerous time."


–CNN's Rebecca Sinderbrand

Filed under: Mike Huckabee
soundoff (274 Responses)
  1. Keith

    Chuckabee makes me ill.

    December 27, 2007 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  2. Shawnie - Grants Pass OR

    It's not a minor gaffe. I'm a housewife and I knew Pakistan's martial law had been lifted. This guy is NOT on top of anything except appealing to fellow evangelicals. And if they vote for him simply because he is evangelical, they are being really irresponsible. This candidate is weak on crime, taxes, immigration, foreign policy,,,anything that really matters to a true Republican. Please people, wake up!

    December 27, 2007 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  3. Pete

    The gaffe can be understood and is not shocking in a nation where the vast majority of people couldn't find Pakistan on a marked map and in a field of politicians who could likely not find it on an unmarked map.

    If that is all they can come up with, then he has little to worry about.

    December 27, 2007 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  4. PAK

    I think politicians are who are ignorant about international issues should not comment.

    December 27, 2007 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  5. Brad, Charleston, SC

    Oops, uh, hey everyone I'm still a Christian!

    Gore/Edwards '08

    December 27, 2007 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  6. Joe

    This is just another example of media bias. Did they ever report when Rep. Corrine Brown, D, of North Florida was asked about the situation in Fredonia (a mythical place made famous by Groucho Marks) and her resonse was an emphatic "terrible just terrible"!! No, of course not! Because they hide the foibles of their own and magnify, if not distort, the minor errors or non-errors of their opponents. For this reason, these media persons are hypocrites and wicked persons of the worst sort!

    December 27, 2007 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  7. Wilson

    Huckabee stop running for president and putting on this charade

    December 27, 2007 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  8. kennpaul

    Another fool amateur from Arkansas

    December 27, 2007 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  9. Pudintane

    Huckabee sucks

    December 27, 2007 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  10. jeanne

    Huckabee is such an idiot. We need someone for President who is mature, focused and not hyping religion. Otherwise we'll be in a religous war around the world – which is a HUGE step backward for democracy in the United States.

    December 27, 2007 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  11. Richard, Ewing, NJ

    Oh my. I think Governor Huckabee is very good man in his heart and he is one of the best speaker - certainly the best speaker in this election. However, his international knowledge is very lacking. He does not appear to have much understanding of interational affairs. What is even worse is that he does not even try to keep up on international news. Pakistan is no longer under martial law. Anyone should reconsider voting for a president without interests in international affairs at this very hour.

    December 27, 2007 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  12. GMF

    Critics=CNN. People who can actually read and understand nuances in the English language know what Huckabee meant. I suspect CNN knows, too, hence the "seemed to indicate" proviso.

    I'm sure this comment will never see the light of day on CNN.

    December 27, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  13. Aten Imago

    Is Huckabbe a Bush Wannabe?
    We don't need more illiterates in Washington... No How, No Mo, No Way !
    Keep him out till he gets an education.

    December 27, 2007 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  14. Jon B Olathe KS

    Maybe if his "massive grassroots support" put their money where their mouth is he'd have enough money to buy a competent foreign policy expert to advise him.

    Travelling abroad in support of Wal-Mart & Tyson Foods isn't exactly "Foreign Policy" experience.

    December 27, 2007 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  15. Mark O'

    I not a Huckbee friend or foe but why would his campaign be interested in responding to this totally unworthy news article. There's a lot more important things going on the the campaign than this – cover them. Soon candidates will be scared to appear in public without scripted speeches. We want a human as our next president not a robot. Focus on the issues not the odd socks!!!

    December 27, 2007 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  16. Frank, Tennessee

    As a Evangelical Christian, I admit that I love Gov. Huckabee's social conservative positions, but his foreign policy gaffes are beginning to worry me. Everybody makes mistakes but this is getting a little embarrasing.

    If you look at his record, it appears that he has no military experience and little if any foreign policy experience. Earlier in the campaign he didn't seem to know what was going on in IRAN (NIE Report) and now he doesn't seem to be keeping track of the situation in Pakistan. That's two very volatile and dangerous areas of the world, and two areas that voters expect the candidates to be familar with.

    Maybe if Huckabee is elected when can put him through some training sessions on history and foreign policy to get him up to speed.

    December 27, 2007 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  17. Rhino

    if this is a direct quote:

    "...and what impact does it have on whether or not there’s going to be martial law continued in Pakistan"

    then what the heck is all the hub-bub about?
    He seems to be foreshadowing what I believe we could all assume to be a natural progression of events which is to reenstate martial law in Pakistan.
    Time may bear Huck out on this one, and those who make a an issue of the comments are going to expose their petty politicking.

    December 27, 2007 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  18. PY, Illinois

    As an independent, I voted primarily for Republican in the past, but I will vote for Democrat in 08. This country deserves a change, and the Bush administration has ruined everything the past 8 long years. We sincerely miss the good old times in the 90's when our beloved country was highly respected in the world.

    May God bless America!

    December 27, 2007 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  19. Paul, Harrisburg PA

    CNN's reaction – "Yes! now we got him. He misspoke."

    Give it a rest. You just can't stand that a possitve leader may actually make it in politics. It's just sad really.

    December 27, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  20. Me in Texas

    Huck-a-wanabe he is probably getting his briefings from the GWB…

    This is the best the GOP can give you?

    if you did not have enough in the last 7 years – there you go…Mike is your man.

    December 27, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  21. Ken

    Your news department should read and find exactly what he did say...Not what Fox News said he said..

    December 27, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  22. Ann Marie Curling

    This goes along with his Cuba statement:

    This guy is not Presidential material.

    December 27, 2007 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  23. Bukky, Balt MD

    Pete December 27, 2007 4:15 pm ET

    The gaffe can be understood and is not shocking in a nation where the vast majority of people couldn't find Pakistan on a marked map and in a field of politicians who could likely not find it on an unmarked map.

    If that is all they can come up with, then he has little to worry about.

    This dude is RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT... he needs to keep up with the news, he needs not know WHERE Pakitsan is (next to india)... Its not understanble that this man doesnt know what is going on with a country that 1) has nukes and 2) is influencial in Mid East policy of this country... PETE you need to expect more from your leaders. At expect that the READ the news..., after Bush do you really want MORE ignorance to world issues?

    December 27, 2007 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  24. AJ; Montpelier, VT

    How could Huck know what was going on in Pakistan? He's too busy giving for- pay speeches to pay any attention to pick up a newspaper.

    December 27, 2007 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  25. jackson smith ny ny

    Sadly, this is typical of Huckabee, given his very limited knowledge of international affairs. It matters little, however, because there is no chance of the country electing a Baptist minister as President. None.

    December 27, 2007 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
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