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. La Chatte, Portland, OR

    Ah, the Huckster... The Earth is 6,000 years old and he's going to put Chuck Norris on the border to deal with immigration. The guy's a flaming idiot– and so are his followers– with no clue whatsoever about foreign policy (and probably can't find Iowa on a map). I only hope he gets the Repug nomination because he'll be, by far, the easiest to demolish.

    December 27, 2007 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  2. Marla

    He is really ignorant.

    December 27, 2007 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  3. Kevin Coughlin

    Huckabee is showing that he is a one trick Christian pony. I know that we have had elected people with less international experience (George W Bush for starters) and look at what he has done to America's reputation.

    If he is going to speak, he should be briefed. Partially because of the arrogance/ignorance of Bush we live in a dangerous world.

    December 27, 2007 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  4. rosemergy

    Hey, GMF, giving Huck the benefit of every doubt, this comment is, at best, confusing and vague. That is entirely different from "nuance," which implies that there is some sort of hair-splitting going on that the unwashed, stupid masses just can't understand. If you want to say that Huck didn't mean it the way it came out, that's one thing, but there's no "nuance" here - just word-mangling at best, ignorance at worst...

    December 27, 2007 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  5. Ray

    Finally ! The rest of America will see what we the people of Arkansas have had to put up with for the last 8 years!

    At his best Mike Huckabee is inept and just plain ignorant. At his worst he is a "holier than tho" snake who is able to manipulate those folks with enough gullibility to think that he will save them from the hoardes of "evil doers that lurk just outside the door"

    Hopefully the members of the Republican party will have enough common sense to come out in droves and vote for anyone other than he in the upcomming primaries so that he will withdraw from the race. If not it will be left up to the American people to elect which ever of the Democrats gets the nomination or perhaps we could simply try it without a President for the next four years, we certainly couldn't come out any worse off!

    December 27, 2007 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  6. Jason NYC

    Give the guy a break. He was setting up his manger scene when martial law was lifted. You can't expect someone who's had his head in the ground for most of his life to know every little thing that goes on outside of the bible belt.

    December 27, 2007 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  7. chris

    Huckabee is witty and 'innocent', but he would be a disaster as leader. He lacks experience, leadership and balance. He has already upset Mormons and Catholics with his 'innocent' remarks. Religious persecution and further polarization is what we can expect under him.

    December 27, 2007 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    "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."

    I really hope this is a joke. Ron Paul is the only candidate from both sides that speaks the truth. You all know this, but you want someone who is going to continue the war-mongering, which is ridiculous and destructive. Watch your dollars become worthless by the day, and your products become too expensive...oh, but that doesn't matter, Pakistan and the rest of the Middle East matter!!! Who gives a crap about the problems facing our own country, right?

    December 27, 2007 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |

    so typical. worry more about whats going on in the afterlife then whats going on here on earth. Maybe if he paid a little more attention to the state of affairs in THIS world his facts would be straight. two weeks is a long time.

    December 27, 2007 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  10. zachterry

    CNN, come on, there are other guys running for the republican nomination also. What is it with the Huckabee fetish you guys have all of a sudden? Is he that much of shoe in? Does he frighten librals that much? Could it be that he is awakening the sleeping giant of the moral majority? Anyway, quit reading this, Huckabee is probally sneezing or somthing so go cover it. He is the news right? 😉

    December 27, 2007 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  11. DAVE B


    December 27, 2007 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  12. John

    This is not surprising. Who here honestly thought a Baptist minister from Arkansas would have any valid input on this tragedy in Pakistan? These politicians just see this as another opportunity to hold a press conference and get their face in the old media and embarass our nation.

    December 27, 2007 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  13. Steve Prost

    This report is ridiculous; note how the writer him/herself attempts to distance him/herself by saying "critics" jump on this "gaffe"...

    ...if just 2 wks ago martial law was lifted, it is very probably going to at least temporarily be imposed now, and the big question and important issue as Huckabee rightfully noted is whether it will continue on when elections are to be taking place and what our position is going to be.

    As spoken human language is used, there is nothing wrong with the generalization/comment that the big issue now is whether "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"...

    iow, is there GOING TO BE (future tense) martial law CONTINUED (as has been the practice as of late, probably will be now, and will it continue indefinitely to stunt democracy continuing there).

    Reporters should be a bit more careful not to jump on the latest Romney press release.

    December 27, 2007 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |


    look at you comparing huckabee to the idiots in the country who cant find pakistan on a map and you will still vote for him. how about instead of saying "its ok, because the rest of the country is stupid as well" why dont you vote for someone thats capable of lifting this country OUT of its ignorance!?!?!?

    December 27, 2007 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  15. Jim

    oh Lord, not another Bush in the making, please............

    December 27, 2007 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  16. Tim

    Huckabee's rise in popularity, apparently primarily due to his conservative religious credentials, is a worrisome indication that this country could persist in the Bush's administration's demonstrated policy of religious beliefs trumping competence. Other than the particular brand of religion, how is this so different from the theocratic state in Iran?

    December 27, 2007 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  17. Surrealist, Fort Myers, FL

    He is such a dope!!

    The thought that this lunatic could possibly be elected to lead the free world makes me cringe.

    Isn't it about time we elected someone who had ALL their brain cells engaged?

    December 27, 2007 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |


    what the heck did he mean?!? did you see something between the lines!? do you have another translation of what he meant "in his heart"?? because i read that he thought pakistan was still under martial law.

    December 27, 2007 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  19. cheezebox

    Oh brother... we all know how dangerous uneducated "religious" people can be for president. Please Huckabee supporters, THINK about what you're bringing on our country

    December 27, 2007 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  20. Lee

    Running for president is a full-time job these days with lots of overtime; but part of the job (of running for president) is keeping up with what is going on in the world around us.

    If noone is briefing Huckabee on things like the end of martial law in Pakistan, what else doesn't he know about?

    Huckabee has some positive qualities no question, but the world's too dangerous for ignorance to be dismissed as 'just a slip of the tongue' or 'just CNN and Fox picking on Mike' as some commenters wish to do.

    Not that Huckabee has time to stop for a cram course on international politics, but he needs to make time to prepare for the job he is auditioning for, or there's not much point to his running.


    December 27, 2007 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  21. RB, from the bay state

    This guy will be so much fun to watch if he gets the nomination.

    December 27, 2007 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  22. pbj, San Diego, CA

    I'd kind of like my president to know more than I do on foreign affairs. I can *somewhat* understand the lack of awareness on martial law in Pakistan but the lack of awareness on the Iran nuke report is mind-boggling. People, we need someone more than a friendly guy who knows how to bag a pheasant as our president.

    December 27, 2007 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  23. Greg

    Whichever candidate we ultimately elect as President, we should learn from our experiences of the last seven years. Consider the reality of international politics and the threats posed to the United States from multiple quarters. Can we afford to have as President someone who relies on advisers to shore up a weak knowledge of international history and a lack of experience in negotiating in culturally and politically delicate situations? We have stellar experts in this country who are widely traveled, have experience in negotiating overseas, speak multiple languages, and command respect beyond our borders for their knowledge of international history and politics. Why are we settling for a field of candidates who by and large have little or none of this? A former mayor. A senator with several years in Congress. A businessman turned governor. Look at the field. Look at their CV's. Are you impressed? If you were running the search committee and the job description were to "run the United States of America with successful domestic and international policy", would any of these candidates leap out at you as eminently qualified?

    How many of these candidates have taken the Foreign Service Exam? What did they score? Which of them has lived abroad? Which of them speaks a foreign language or two? Which of them has in the course of their work experience been put in situations where they had to try to understand how people from other cultures are thinking? Which of them in the course of their work has had to base a decision on how people from other countries might perceive our country as a result of this decision? Any of them?

    If Mr. Huckabee misspoke about martial law in Pakistan, that is a bothersome minor detail. Better we judge him along the criteria above. As we should all of the candidates.

    December 27, 2007 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  24. john


    December 27, 2007 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  25. Sheila, NYC

    Sure, many Americans couldn't find Pakistan on a map – but they're not running for president. This buffoon makes the inexperienced Obama look like an elder statesman.

    December 27, 2007 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
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