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

Huckabee explains Pakistan comment

Watch Obama react to Bhutto's death

Watch Huckabee react to Bhutto's death.

(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. Steve Hill

    What's the problem? There's nothing to worry about. The Guv spent last night at a Holiday Inn Express.

    December 27, 2007 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  2. Dan

    Come on Huck Finn I'm starting to wonder if you even pay attention to current events. And don't give me that you are extremely busy routine and play it off with some wisecrack. Even I knew that martial law had been lifted and that Iran had suspended it's nuclear weapon ambitions. I am a democrat but if you guys did win I was thinking you would be the most honest now I'm wondering if you have the competence to handle the job.

    December 27, 2007 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  3. Mindy Chatsworth, California

    The problem is Huckaboo is not this blip on the radar. This comment is the least of our problems. Remember, this is a man who does not believe in the scientific theory of evolution. He thinks that God created man and who cares about facts and real knowledge. That is the kind of blind ignorance that this man offers as a potential Republican presidential candidate. The scary thing is that there are a lot more people just like him out there. Some may find this highly amusing. I, on the other hand, do not. I find it truly frightening that this man can discard a body of scientific information and tell us in the 21st century that we did not evolve.

    Whether or not he has the requisite knowledge of foreign policy issues is the least of our concerns. His blind faith in the bible to the exclusion of all other sources is what makes me terrified that this man could even possibly be considered for the highest office in our land.

    December 27, 2007 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  4. Penguinn, Edmonds WA

    Suggestion for Huck – Less hunting, more learning. Who knows, maybe in a decade or two, he could know enough to be competent to hold national office.

    December 27, 2007 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  5. Iowa Bob

    Gomer Huckelberry demonstrates once again his woefully inadequate bible school education and lack of attention to what's going on in the world. He can be slick at times but lacks the ability, experience and knowlege to be president.

    December 27, 2007 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  6. Mark in CT

    I'm no Huckabee supporter, but I'm trying to find where the "gaffe" is in this statement. GMF is absolutely right: it's a question about how you interpret the word "continued." Looks like the Romney campaign has friends (or gullible dupes) at CNN.

    December 27, 2007 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  7. Jahiz Barlas

    Haha, sometimes you have to be amazed at the ignorance of some people. And I shudder at the ignorance of a Presidential candidate like Huck...
    As a Pakistani, it doesnt surprise me this is true though. Ive had people ask me if Pakistan was next to Iraq, in the Middle East?
    Now thats pretty freaking ignorant, wouldnt you say?

    December 27, 2007 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  8. LockeNessMonster

    Awe, c'mon. The guy was busy shooting slow-flying, defenseless birds for photographers. You can't expect him to know something like the state of government for one of our closest allies in the War on Terror.

    December 27, 2007 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  9. jw, canadian,ok

    Good grief Huck, just say 'no comment'

    December 27, 2007 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  10. Jackson Maxim

    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.

    Man, I sure hope you're joking, because if a candidate doesn't recognize geographical boundaries how can anyone expect him to know the state of geopolitical affairs?

    Really, dude, expect more out of your candidates. Huckabee might know about how to run a state, but that says nothing about foreign policy. So far, he's shown he's just not up to the job.

    December 27, 2007 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  11. Scott, SLC, UT

    Doesn't he have speech writers for this stuff....

    December 27, 2007 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  12. Steve

    Lazy and uninterested in world affairs. Shocking. Presidential material? Remember Reagan? He is still idolized. And he called Ferdinand Marcos a friend of democracy and approved the sale of guns to Iranian clerics to raise money for the Contras in Nicaragua. Huckabee's gaffe will make no waves. Once he is elected, then he can make some real doozies. And many people may still not care. Hey, the NFL playoffs will start soon. Who cares about Pakistan, wherever the hell that is?

    December 27, 2007 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  13. Mike in AZ

    GMF is right on with this one. I read the quote several times and I'm sure Huckabee is unintentionally saying "continue" when he means "re-instate". So why is everyone in an uproar? Anyone who's NEVER said the wrong word when surrounded by hundreds of people and all sorts of media raise your hand...

    Good comment, 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 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  14. LockeNessMonster

    And you know good 'ol funny-man Huck is about to explode wanting to make a joke with Bhutto's name.

    December 27, 2007 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  15. matt

    December 27, 2007 4:15 pm ET

    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."

    WOW – It's this kind of mentality that led people to elect our current president. Americans needs to have much, much higher expectations for the next leader of the free world, or we're all in big trouble. Pete, do you really believe most politicians can't locate a country on a map which terrorists are believed to use as a home base and varifiably possesses nuclear weapons? And that it's nothing to worry about if they don't know it's current state of affairs? If so, I beg of you not to vote in the next election.

    This is not a "gaffe" that "can be understood." It's proof of ignorance and under-qualification for the most important job on the planet...

    December 27, 2007 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  16. John Halverson

    doh! was that Homer Simpson or Mike Huckabee, they are one in the same except mike huckabee is a little more polished, but what an IDIOT! how could someone running for the most POWERFUL position in the WORLD not be up to speed on politics! what a moron, he would be like Bush and not realize we had a hurricane for weeks (like Katrina). There are some of your average citizens like me that seem to be more up to date and I'm not running for President. Why do we only get MORONS on both the Democratic and Republican parties? can we please just give washington an ENIMA? and start all over. AAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 27, 2007 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  17. fred

    I don't get it. Don't you people know how to read. Where I come the word continue can mean one of two things. It can mean keep going, or it can mean start up again, which is pretty much the same thing, and I can guarantee when Huckabee responds, that's what he's going to say. Say for example, a war ends, and it's been peaceful for two weeks. Say a bomb was just dropped. Now, someone could say, "the violence may continue" meaning start up again. It's like saying, a man was smoking all his life, and just quit two weeks ago. Now that there's a cigarette in front of him will he continue smoking, or stay smoke free. If you read in context, and not just in fragments, that's what he was referring to, "starting up again". I clearly think you people like to bash others just for the sake of finding something to be critical of. Don't you all have anything better to do? I haven't seen anyone here giving any support of other candidates. Just anti-support of Huckabee, who is the only one speaking the truth, and you all know it. If you even know what martial law is, it's pretty much like a form of a "state of emergency." Knowing that, yeah, martial law could start up again with all this. Huckabee is right, believe it or not.

    December 27, 2007 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  18. jimbob

    Another politician who doesn't read...

    December 27, 2007 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |

    How can anybody suggest that Huckabee did not know the martial law was lifted weeks ago? What he is saying is that before considering whether martial law should be reintroduced, that we should first of all send our condolence to the people of Pakistan. His statement in no way indicates that he did not know that martial law has been lifted. Why is Huckabee being attacked for every statement he makes? The media should the American people to vote their conscience and stop creating bias in the minds of people. Let the people be the judge of these candidates.

    December 27, 2007 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  20. jim

    Maybe he meant "martial law resumed," after its brief pause. I would imagine a return to martial law is a strong possibility.

    December 27, 2007 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  21. Dr.RingDing

    Reporter: "Governor, what is your reaction to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto?"

    Hickabee: "Oh, no! He was one of my favorite soccer stars!"

    December 27, 2007 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  22. Tom Walls

    I see this as no big deal. I'm no fan of the Huckster, at least he knew Pakistan had been under martial law recently. This is just nitpicking.

    Bush didn't even know Musharraf's name when asked "who that general in charge of Pakistan" was in 1999. I trust Ron Paul on foreign policy more than any of the other clowns running for office – his nonintervention is much more rational than just continued belligerence.

    December 27, 2007 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  23. Bernard

    Did anyone read what he actually said. Not only is what he said completely correct but the media is once again trying to spin ANYTHING a politician says into some sort of attack.

    Here is the quote:

    "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"


    Here is what the press hears:

    Pakistan is under a state of martial law.

    He did not state that there is currently a state of martial law in the country, but whether or not todays actions are going to result in Martial Law. That being a primary concern of the USA.

    People wake up, just because CNN or any other news agency spins a quote around does not mean that their spin is correct. READ it for yourself and get the meaning. Relying on yellow journalism to inform you of what really is happening is not the smartest concept in the world.

    Good Job CNN...for twisting and spinning yet another story to make it more glamorous than it really is. I remember when CNN actually reported the truth, not its own political agenda.

    December 27, 2007 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  24. Neal

    Yet another dim-witted southern governor who wants to be president.

    December 27, 2007 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  25. SPD

    Cheezebob please clarify this statement:
    "we all know how dangerous uneducated "religious" people can be for president"

    Are you implying that if someone is a Christian then they are "uneducated"? I would argue the contrary. Tell me which one is more logical, believing in a Sovereign, Creator (ie. God) or a statically impossible fairytale (ie. evolution)?

    I'm no, genius but I consider myself quite educated. I have a Bachelor's degree and work in a technical field. One of my "hobbies" is studying Creation Science, not just reading articles, but in-depth study of micro-biology and geology. Critically analyzing both secular and Christian Scientist papers on their findings and assumption.

    So, just because I believe in God and Jesus is the Lord of my life doesn't mean I'm uneducated. Just because I can see the flaws in a fairytale (ie. evolution) that require "billions of years" to cause something (that is statically impossible) to happen, doesn't prove I am uneducated. Actually, it proves the opposite. It proves that HAVE educated myself.... in the TRUTH.

    Give the man a break. Christmas was a couple of days ago and he had been on the campaign trail for the weeks leading up to Christmas. Martial law was only lifted 2 WEEKS AGO. TWO WEEKS. Heck, I'm impressed that he even knew that they were under martial law. Presidents (whom ever they are) typically don't keep up with the "up to the minute" happenings internationally. That is what his Staff and advisers are for.

    December 27, 2007 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
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