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. Randy Hurst San Francisco, California 94121

    Pure Huckababble ! It is great to live in a country where any native citizen can become President–it is truly regrettable that some of them try.

    December 27, 2007 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  2. ridor

    Big deal. GW Bush is idiot and he still got reelected. So can Huckabee. it simply reflects the stupidity of voters, really!


    December 27, 2007 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  3. Ross

    Didn't he play "Goober" on the Andy Griffith show? – I'm almost certain!

    December 27, 2007 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  4. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    What a hoot to see the loyal GOP line up to defend "the Huckster" .... he isn't paying attention to international affairs – didn't know about Iran and their non-nuclear program and now, after two weeks, didn't know Pakistan was not under martial law ...

    What does he know? He knows the earth is only 6,000 years old and women should graciously submit to their husbands, how to post a gift list and how to pardon thousands of criminals.

    Sorry – we've had 7 years of ignorance trying to lead the country ... we can not
    afford another four years of a president not knowing his ear from his elbow ... if he was informed, all you foolish people would not have to explain to the rest of us what he really meant ....

    December 27, 2007 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |


    December 27, 2007 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  6. kay

    The man is ignorant and unprincipled ,and truly scary, leading in the polls here in Georgia. I'm old but I can remember when being an American made you proud.

    December 27, 2007 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  7. David, Oregon City

    He made a bad choice of words when saying the U.S. needs to consider “what impact does it have on whether or not there’s going to be martial law continuing in Pakistan.” He should have said whether or not martial law will be reinstated


    December 27, 2007 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  8. Dan McD

    Pakistan was recently under Martial Law, and the Assassination of a prominent leader would give Musharraf credible reason to restore it.

    One might reasonably say he would be continuing matrial law at that point. Considering our current President's gift for misuse with English, and a press that tended to ignore it when his popularity was high, this whole 'gaffe' seems miniscle.

    It seems that news can be created where it might not otherwise exist. Atop that, we really do ourselves no service by desiring leaders who can speak off the cuff and then pretty much mocking them for the tiniest details.

    December 27, 2007 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  9. John, New York


    You are somewhat correct in that the word "continue" can either mean to "keep going" or to "start again". However, in order for it to mean the latter, the condition that it is referring to needs to be the standard, not the exception. for example, if it has been raining for days and days, it might be appropriate to say that the rain might "continue" after a brief clearing. However, if there has only been a brief shower, it would be ackward to refer to the rain as "continuing" once it has stopped.

    The same applies with martial law in Pakistan. If, in fact, martial law had been in place for months and months...then had might be appropriate to refer to it as "continuing" if you were concerned about martial law being imposed again. However, since martial law had only been in place for a few weeks, it is verabally ackward to refer to it as "continuing" once it had been lifted.

    Considering how verbally skilled Huckabee is, I am inclined to conclude that he was not aware that martial law had been lifted and, in fact, was using the "keep going" definition.

    I think the American public will also conclude the same thing.

    December 27, 2007 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  10. Jeff

    This guy is a less intelligent version of George Bush. If the gets the nomination, I will either go with 'none of the above' or the Libertarian candidate. I'd rather have a Democrat elected (including Hillary) than Huckabee since I suspect he'd pretty much do about the same level of damage to the country and if the damage is going to happen anyway I'd rather have the Democrats blamed.

    In the interest of full disclosure ... I'm supporting Fred Thompson and certainly won't be happy with any of the other Republicans but Huckabee is the only one that will guarantee I won't be voting Republican.

    December 27, 2007 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  11. ben..west memphis ar.

    at a time like this it would be easy to say the wrong thing. and as a democrat i will defend mike for what he said i have always voted for the man not the partyt and i think mike is a good honest person. there are a couple of republicans that i like mitt is not one of them. and there is only one dem. i would vote for and that is not another clinton.. my first president was hover. so i go back a few years. this will end up a very dirty election and i thought i had seen everything. just wait until the real dirt comes out, most of which will be lies but somw will belive it.

    December 27, 2007 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  12. D Ng

    I think he was referring to Martial Arts, i.e his campaign pusher Chuck "I get the best workout in my life with a bowflex" Norris.

    Look, I just think I want a president who reads the news as often as I do and not every other month.

    December 27, 2007 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  13. W McClain Los Angeles California

    It's no surprise that Huckabee made such a comment even though had he watched the news on CNN or read a newspaper this blunder could have been prevented.

    How is it that these candidates can live in a box and want to be the leader of our country and be so ignorant? Perhaps the answer is because the people supporting them expect nothing more themselves.

    The days of the U.S. playing a leadership role on the world stage is over as a result of the current administration. The sooner our elected officials understand the U.S. is not the center of the universe but just a part of it's fabric, the better off we'll be. Hopefully once again some respect will be shown upon not only it's elected officials but the people they are supposed to serve as a whole.

    The above needs to be understood by all Americans and to realize freedom isn't imposed by war and invasions and that respect is earned.

    This will be quite a challenge considering the current administration may be the most corrupt in the history of mankind. And all the while with smiles on their faces as they've lied through their teeth to a trusting all be it ignorant people.

    These is something to be learned from world history, and one religious fanatic is no different from another regardless of which book you believe in.

    December 27, 2007 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  14. jd

    Hey liberal idiots try reading his exact quote not the Clinton New Network spin on his words. The real truth is that Hilary is unqualified and a compulsive lier and Obama wouldn't receive any notice if he wasn't black. People who vote with their emotions and not their brains should not be allowed to vote.

    December 27, 2007 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  15. dnxx1

    "He is really ignorant."


    December 27, 2007 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  16. JimmyW

    He may be clueless about foreign policy. He may have a questionable record on law enforcement. He may even be generally unqualified to be president. But hey, at least he's not a Mormon. Picking the wrong religion seems to be the only unforgivable sin in the GOP primaries. Thank God I'm not a Republican.

    December 27, 2007 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  17. Romeo Nelson

    To the author of the subject article,

    Can't you find anything better to write about? This is nickel and dime! What's next in your agenda-John McCain putting his belt on left to right or right to left? You people need to focus on more important and substantive issues which may impact the state of our country and stop "looking" for issues that do nothing more than generate non-constructive comments from all the so-called "educated" readers. As for all the "educated" readers with their respective comments, take a good look at "your own back yard" before you begin to criticize others.

    Lastly, to the readers who may be wondering-I have no preferences on any of the presidential candidates, but would encourage all "Americans" to show the courtesy and decency of a civilized country in affording all candidates due respect as they proceed with the challenge of trying to be the leader of a diverse and most powerful nation in the world.

    Romeo Nelson

    December 27, 2007 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  18. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Huck should hire that teen beauty queen from South Carolina.

    December 27, 2007 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  19. Jon Sanderson

    Once again Huckabee shows he is does not stay current on important foreign affairs. Anyone this ignorant is not remotely qualified to be President of the United States. Huck, for the good of candidates who have a real shot of beating the Dems, drop out now!

    December 27, 2007 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  20. John

    Did we forget that he is human and oh, by the way, did you also notice he mispronouced "Bhutto" ? He never had my vote to begin with.

    December 27, 2007 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  21. Jon Sanderson


    December 27, 2007 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  22. Pat (NYC)

    Amazing...everyone thinks that just because one is a Christian & believes in the Bible that makes them incompetent in world affairs. Guess both Clinton's would be incompetent as well, Reagan, Carter, need I go on? All of the candidates have gaping holes in various areas – no one can know everything, that's why they have a cabinet, Secretary of State, to advise. People that are close minded will find fault in anything if you look for it.

    December 27, 2007 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  23. jeff

    Stop this nonsense. The only mistake made was one of tense. It is obvious what he meant to say.

    December 27, 2007 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  24. john

    huckabee did not mispeak with Musharaff in charge he is going to declare marshall law and suspend the elections..other people are just nitpicking huckabee because he is the honest canidate

    December 27, 2007 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  25. armymommax2

    This is one reason why he is known as CHUCKLE-bee in Arkansas. He has no buisness being in politics, much less President....As a Republican, he is a "no go" as an Arkansan, he is an embarressment. Did you see the "hunting" footage on him today......."this is what happens if you don't vote for me" line, as dead pheasant are laying at his feet. Good lord......he's a goof.........McCain is the only way to go for the Republicans......

    December 27, 2007 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
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