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. fred

    And why do you all criticize this man because of his belief in creation? You do realize that evolution and science are 2 completely different things right. I bet you all still think Lucy is a distant relative to us. News Flash. Lucy is no longer part of the evolutionary theory. Ever hear of Selam? Selam is Lucy's child, hypothetically speaking. Even she was found to have only ape characteristics, with none of humans. Read up on Lucy's feet. Those feet are what was supposed to show she walked upright, as were tests in the ear canal. Tests have showed she did not walk upright, and Lucy never had any foot or lower leg bones found. And most scientists don't even credit Big Bang with happening anymore, because creationists have made a very good point. The point is:

    How can we say that God can't create all of this? The truth is, that if we went to Mars today and found a skyscraper on Mars, we would automatically assume that it was created by human/alien intelligence. But if we see a simple cell, the basic building block of life, we assume it came about by chance, when we can't even build it ourselves. If we're the most intelligent things in the universe, and we can build skyscrapers, submarines, computers, and everything else, why is it that when we find something that we can't build, that we assume chance made it. Chance has no intelligence at all. Wouldn't it make more sense to believe that something even greater than us, much more intelligent than us created that which is impossible for us to create? Creationists believe so. Evolutionists believe that something less intelligent than us created what is beyond our ability to create......I find that hard to believe.

    December 27, 2007 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  2. William , Memphis, TN

    The scary thing for me is the intolerance of Christianity that has developed among democrats. The history of hatred among democrats, i.e. blacks, Japanese Americans, Japanese citizens ( A Bomb), Cubans, Germans, Vietnamese, etc., is well documented. Now they turn their sights toward Christians. Scary as hell.

    December 27, 2007 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  3. Denise, Philadelphia, PA

    Quote from 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.

    GMF, not sure what "nuances" you saw in his statement, it seemed pretty clear to me that he implied that Pakistan was still under martial law – he actually used the term "Martial Law". I don't see any other way to interpret this statement, do you??? I don't care who the "critics" are that pointed out the error, a mistake is a mistake, and this is a BIG one. If you are running a serious campaign for the presidency, you had better know what's going on in the world, ESPECIALLY in Pakistan. I haven't decided for whom I will vote yet, but it certainly won't be this guy.

    December 27, 2007 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  4. Scott in RI

    I'm not a fan of Huckabee, and I would agree that most of the candidates (not just Mr. Huckabee) have very little clue about current world affairs, BUT I agree with GMF, CNN's interpretation of the statement suggests they are in need of a good story and they are spinning this one in a way that serves their need. I don't think Mike Huckabee needs to respond to CNN's request for comment on the issue, its just not worth any of his time. If Hillary Clinton had made that same statement, we all would known what she meant. This story is not worth the time that any of us have spent responding to this idiocy. Mike Huckabee has made plenty of ridiculous statements, but this just isn't one of them.

    December 27, 2007 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  5. Siva

    First, the comment about the dead birds representing those that do not vote for him. Then the comment at the debate about the "degree in theology". Now this.

    I can see how people mistook what he said, and he might have been very aware of the current situation of Pakistan. But he sure seems careless with his word choices. And what is really so different about his plans anyway? What will change? The corporations will still control policy and dictate your future to you, which is fine if you don't mind the march back to peasantry. Remember the most useful slave is the one who thinks he is free.

    This guy has no chance, and if he did win the primary it is all but over for the republicans. Romney and Huckabee are so status quo, big government, corporatocracy neo cons, and yet they are pushed as they are the only choice. They are no real alternative to the pro-socialist democrats, and either would easily loose to Obama or Clinton. Sad really.

    Vote for real change, Ron Paul 2008.

    December 27, 2007 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  6. Santiago

    Let us have a REAL president for a welcome change!

    ****Ron Paul for President****

    Huckabee will soon be just a faded memory! A flash in the pan!

    December 27, 2007 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  7. fred

    Oh, and if you are one of the people that believe that math is needed to prove anything, but God is the only thing that can't be mathematically proven, you're wrong. There is another thing that can't be mathematically proven, and that is love. Why do you think people can't hold relationships together? It's because people can't comprehend or find the exact solution to love. Maybe God and love go hand in hand, and maybe, just maybe, God and love are bigger than mathematics, and therefore, mathematics cannot prove either. Ever think of that?

    December 27, 2007 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  8. Kristine

    Musharraf is going to now blame this on his having lifted martial law – and Huckabee is clueless.

    So are his followers.

    "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."

    Oh, by all means, it's okay, then. And it's okay that many Americans can't find the United States on a map, and that one-fifth of us think the sun goes around the earth. Just peachy.

    December 27, 2007 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  9. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Huckabee doesn't need to respond to not knowing martial law was lifted in Pakistan as early as two weeks ago. America needs to respond by not endorsing Huckabee. We don't need another misinformed or uninformed president. Huckabee has proven he has no interest or knowledge of international affairs now or in the past and personally, I myself don't talk to people who don't know what's going on in the world around them and don't care. Those type of people live in their little comfort zone and Huckabee is one of them.

    December 27, 2007 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  10. Darth Vadik, Diamond Bar CA

    That's great, another clueless Bush like in the whitehouse.

    Why cant Huckster just stay in Arkansas and leave this country to the sane people?

    December 27, 2007 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  11. Stacey, Durham, NC

    Isn't this the same guy that wasn't aware of the NIE report on Iran, joked that his foreign policy came down to his staying at a "Holiday Inn Express"? Sorry, the joke is on you this time Huckabee. Too busy doing the NRA photo op pieces with the orange hat? Why again should we trust this guy to be one of the most powerful leaders in the world?

    December 27, 2007 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  12. Chris, NC

    Huckabee expressed concern about how the government will react. Will they impose martial law (again) or not?

    GMF got it right. CNN got it wrong.

    December 27, 2007 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  13. Oscar

    Campaigning, Christmas, Iraq, Chinese toys, immigration, gas prices....

    All these thing's are bouncing around in all the candidates heads. I'm happy the guy knew that martial law HAD been in effect recently. Like someone pointed out, half the country (generous estimate) could not point Pakistan out on a map. As far as foreign policy goes, that's what advisors are for. The President needs to be an "expert generalist" when it comes to situations like this. He should know exactly who to call when something such as this takes place. To have first hand knowledge of the political situation in every country in the world (that is 100% up to date) would be nearly impossible.

    Just my opinion though, feel free to bash it =)

    FYI-Not a Huckabee supporter.

    December 27, 2007 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  14. Renae C. Mitchell

    This continues to prove that the "Huckaboom" was filled with a lot of hot air. This Christian has seen past his rhetoric and pandering for some time.

    December 27, 2007 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  15. DJ, new york, ny

    Tht is the problem when a candidate who does not read, or has a short memory, or whose mouth is faster than his brain.

    December 27, 2007 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  16. Nathaniel R.D. Mounce

    I think that his words could be taken either way. When I read it, I could have just as easily taken "continued" as "starting back" or "being reinstituted."

    December 27, 2007 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  17. Matthew Sutton, Central Point, Oregon

    "whether there is going to be martial law..."

    I don't see a problem with that comment. It clearly could be a reference to a future martial law if the unrest continues.

    From this and the Axelrod story, I think the media is REALLY reaching for stories.

    December 27, 2007 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  18. M Nyenpan, New Jersey

    Huckabee has made a very good point. Pakistan is under a martial law. Musharaf is a great dictator and hardcore side taker. America needs to open her eyes, ears and everything it takes to closely monitor this guy.

    He cannot be trusted – where is Osama bin Laden? Why he has not being apprehended since. I think Huckabee is 100% accurate in his observation. Musharaf must go!

    December 27, 2007 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  19. Alex

    Less hunting, more learning, haha. Read a newspaper Huck...

    December 27, 2007 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  20. Nathaniel R.D. Mounce

    Mindy Chatsworth...
    Do you realize the number of people in the country who do not believe we evolved?
    I do not personally believe that. I look around at this vast universe and cannot understand how anyone can think it all just happened as an accident.

    December 27, 2007 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  21. Rebekah, Kansas City

    I am currently an undecided voter, and I must admit that this comment from Huckabee has underscored my concerns about his knowledge of foreign policy. I was under the impression that presidential candidates are surrounded by a team of staff who are paid to make sure the candidate is up to date on current issues and briefed on how to comment? Even if Huckabee himself is unable to find Pakistan on a map (which is a major issue) shouldn't at least one of his campaign advisors, speech writers or interns be able to help him out?

    December 27, 2007 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  22. negzel

    Huckabee has no clue about foreign policy. He's from Arkansas! He'd better learn quick. Iowans are smarter than simple social conservatives.

    December 27, 2007 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  23. jason

    We already elected a Pres who didn't have any international knowledge, and see what happened.

    Let's do it again, maybe this time it will be different.

    December 27, 2007 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  24. K Huntoon

    yOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING. Huckabee is being criticized for telling the truth about not being up to speed on one of over 200 foreign country's current domestic policies. He should have just lied like Hillary does, and told reporters he knows everything. It's not like Hillary's pathological lies have ever been documented – right? No, wait, they have, but we don't care about the REAL Inconvenient Truth, unlike the hoax called "global warming," we want lies!

    Come on Mike, take a page out of the Hillary Playbook, and be everything to everyone. You can speak with a southern, black accent in a Southern Baptist Church, and you can tell a Boston, Irish crowd you think there's some "Irish blood" in your family.

    How dare you tell the truth Huckabee! The people don't want the truth, they want a lie because it makes them feel better.

    December 27, 2007 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  25. H. Kathryn Lamat

    Huckabee is – for many reasons – not a candidate I would like to see become President, BUT – to claim that his comment: "whether or not there's going to be martial law continued in Pakistan" "seemed to suggest" that he doesn't know that martial law was previously lifted, is NONSENSE. The phrase Huckabee used can very correctly be understood as a wary musing as to whether or not Musharraf will deem it necessary to suspend the constitutuion, once again, as a direct result of the assasination of Ms. Bhutto. He may well be consigned to the dust-bin of history, but it shouldn't be because of a REPORT that Huckabee "appeared to make a minor gaffe" and that his comment "seemed to suggest" something that existed only two weeks ago! This is worse than Jr. High gossip.

    December 27, 2007 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
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