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. case

    I am not a Huckabee supporter (actually a democrat) and this "gaffe" story is beyond silly to me. This "shocking" error could have been a simple mistake in wording. Had he said "whether or not there’s going to be [renewed] martial law" there would be no story at all. Either the threshold for a "gaffe" has went down considerably or CNN (and the other networks) are manufacturing news stories just prior to a vote.

    December 27, 2007 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  2. Mike in Boston

    "the United States’ first priority should be to find the responsible parties."

    Did I read that right??? Did Mike Huckabee just say that it's the responsibility of the United States to track down the assassin of a former leader of Pakistan? Can someone explain to me why that's our responsibility?

    Furthermore, maybe if we spent our time and money looking for Bin Laden instead of attacking Iraq for the last 5 years, Bhutto would still be alive.

    December 27, 2007 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  3. James

    Good God this candidate is nothing more than a pretender.

    Listen Huckabee supporters: Give it up. He'll get KILLED in a general election. But even so, we cannot rule out the slim possiblilty he may eek out a win (probably only if Obama is his opponent, by mounting a smear campaign against his supposedly "Muslim" background).

    Huckabee is a pretender, practicing identity politics. Give it up Huck, you are a joke.

    December 27, 2007 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  4. janice

    The faux pas I noticed in Huckabee's remarks was that he APOLOGIZED for the United States for this occurrence! This has to be one that wasn't our fault.

    December 27, 2007 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  5. Raman, Plano TX

    Bhutto's return to the country after years in exile ... had been a cornerstone of Bush's policy in Pakistan, ...

    Joe Biden of Delaware, ... "I am convinced Ms. Bhutto would have won free and fair elections next week".

    Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, said in a telephone interview from his Islamabad hotel room that he and Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-Rhode Island, were to dine with Musharraf and meet later in the night with Bhutto.

    Considering the above leaders had such high stakes in Bhutto's election outcome and the fact that ISI, President Pervez and NIB had simply no clue to her security and safety, Mike Huckabee's comment cannot be labeled a gaffe.

    December 27, 2007 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |

    Give Me a Break !!

    The *** CURRENT *** President of the United States was asked in an interview before his FIRST election to name the LEADER of Pakistan and all he could answer was "the General" !! This IDIOT had NO previous foreign policy experience and suggested that his "talks" with the leader of MEXICO – a Texas border state – fully qualified his foreign policy experience for national office !!

    Besides, the latest reports cite that violence and chaos has broken out in Pakistan which would give Pervez Musharraf EXACTLY the situation he would want to bring martial law back in force.

    Come on CNN, be FAIR and BALANCED ! Remind us about PREVIOUS Presidential contenders that have made erroneous statements.

    December 27, 2007 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  7. connie floyd, crockett,texas

    well, by all means he will get elected. The republicans love those candidates that haven't got a clue of anything in their head. Et la Bush

    December 27, 2007 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  8. joan nicholson

    Is Huckabee another one who is too busy to read the papers? Do we need another president who doesn't read newspapers, and relies on a 'higher authority' to guide him?

    December 27, 2007 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  9. Tom Good, Bakersfield, California

    I took Huckabee's remarks to mean that Pakistan might or might not go back to martial law. Is this a case of the media trying to play "gotcha"?

    December 27, 2007 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  10. Greg

    I'm not sure what the big to-do is over Mike's comments in his response? The comments posted here seem to be very vitriolic, something I would expect from a bunch of diehard liberals that would rather attack the person rather than what he said. I see nothing wrong with the ad and even if Huckabee wondered aloud whether there will be a continuance of martial law (an inference that they may re-impose such a measure which last I checked, means a continuance), there is absolutely nothing anyone can use to measure Huckabee's ability (or lack thereof) to make judgement calls on foreign affairs. Clearly, these responses are emotional and baseless diatribe.

    December 27, 2007 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  11. Greg

    meant to say video clip not ad...

    December 27, 2007 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  12. Mike Obrien

    Hukabee didn't make a gaffe here. Besides, Pakistan just lifted Emergency Rule days ago. Obviously, the lifting of Emergency Rule was connected to this assassination plot

    December 27, 2007 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  13. Voice of Reason

    I don't think anyone here can honestly say whether Huckabee was inferring that Pakistan is under martial law now or whether martial will continue to be used in Pakistan in the future as it has been in the past by President Musharaff. Attempting to interpret the comment is purely academic regardless. It is very clear that Huckabee is not well-versed in foreign affairs but then again, many of the same critics who have been assailing him as a buffoon who will continue GWB's international missteps are often the same people who will vote for a Democrat because they believe our focus should be on domsetic, not foreign, affairs. If that is true, then Huckabee's obvious weakness in this arena could be alleviated by naming a competent, experienced, skilled Secretary of State.

    December 27, 2007 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  14. Chris Clausen

    Doesn't really matter because most Americans will have no idea what he is talking about anyways. Pakistan? Martial Law? What's that? Now if it was a gaffe about Britany there would be an uproar.

    December 27, 2007 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  15. Chris Clausen

    Doesn’t really matter because most Americans will have no idea what he is talking about anyways. Pakistan? Martial Law? What’s that? Now if it was a gaffe about Britany there would be an uproar. And is this a comment board or a place that you can prove how smart you are with your comment?

    December 27, 2007 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  16. Grant H. Lynn, CSA Salt Lake City, UT

    "Minor gaffe" MINOR GAFFE!!!!!!!

    There are NO minor gaffes in this kind of thing!!

    Either you are up to speed or you are not in the boat.

    My son is a Marine Reservist and I DO NOT want someone as POTUS, that doesn't even know if martial law is taking place in a country where he may have to go one day and put his life on the line.

    Senator FRED THOMPSON is the man I'd go to war under {BTW I have answered the call before and would do it again, under President Thompson}.



    December 27, 2007 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  17. Mike, Lansing MI

    If you are not convinced that this guy is a real buffoon, then this ought to solidify things. The President is someone who knows what is going on in the world. This guy clearly is living in a bubble. He is not a President.

    December 27, 2007 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  18. E. C., Houston, Texas

    Huckabee has once again "opened mouth, inserted foot,' and spoken with little or no regard for what he is 'mouthing to the public.'
    Does any American want this man on stage with American Foreign Policy at stake?
    Think not. Huckabee is Not qualified to be President of this Naiton. He is in the same category as Hillary.

    December 27, 2007 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  19. MB, Charlotte,NC

    Once again..the anti-hucks are on the fritz.
    Are any of these the reasons why perhaps?
    1 – He has spent so much less than the other candidates and is still in the game?
    2 – He is a Christian who has convictions based on the bible (which some refer to as the Word Of God?)
    3 – Believes in THE 2'nd amendment like our founding fathers in which it is legal to hunt for food?
    4 – You just have that strong desire to have higher taxes and a government ran country and you are afraid if he wins you will not get that?
    5 – He is for ending the IRS and providing you more money each pay check?
    6 – You didn't get that "Happy Holiday" gift you asked the Holiday Man for?
    7 – All of the above?

    If any of you do would not like to have more money in your wallet, get God back into America to when we once had it in our Schools, Government facilities et all, better education system, maybe have the ability to say Merry Christmas to someone and MADE IN AMERICA label back then please either go to a different country where you would obviously be better off or do more research on the man and his visions and do not be led by Media outlets and the rumor/gossip mill.

    He is the most articulate speaker I have heard
    He does not dodge a question
    He is honest
    He plays the guitar

    December 27, 2007 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  20. Infidel Granny

    I liked Fred Thompson's response to the assasination.

    December 27, 2007 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  21. Timothy Dooling

    Huckabee is a pseudo-'christian' bonehead.

    His remark in Iowa speaks volumes of his character:

    "This is what happens when you get in my way." (Referring to a pheasant he had killed)

    Be afraid: BE VERY AFRAID.

    December 27, 2007 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |

    Forgot to mention...

    I'll bet that MANY of the respondent's to this report (as "Pete" says) ALSO "...couldn't find Pakistan on a marked map" and have NO CLUE as to the origin or status of that country.

    "Bernard" is correct. Those who fail to FULLY RESEARCH and UNDERSTAND *** ANY *** topic that appears on a single media website are all the more foolish – both in their commentary and the ability to cast a meaningful vote for a leader.

    Of course, ranting and raving, ad hominem attacks against the person and simplistic responses (i.e. "He is really ignorant."; "Why cant Huckster just stay in Arkansas and leave this country to the sane people?") offer no talking points to enroll others to a particular point of view and show no depth (or ability...) to reason out an issue. My commendations to those of you who've taken the time and effort to make SERIOUS political points and rationally express your POV.

    It's people like yourselves that would serve us better if YOU ran for political office than politicians who (like some of the commentary) simply use up public air (or webspace) for meaningless sound bytes.

    December 27, 2007 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  23. Tim, Minnesota


    December 27, 2007 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  24. Mike in FXBG

    Oh, gosh! Huckabee made a mistake in thinking that Pakistan is under martial law. How would anyone notice if Pakistan were not under martial law. For those of you who believe that the National Intelligence Estimate is a definitive source of intell-related information, look at the third word of NIE: ESTIMATE. Intelligence agents are notorious for not assigning any type of quantifiable metric against any intelligence product. The mantra in the US Military is: "how can you tell if an intell officer is lying? Their lips are moving."

    December 27, 2007 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  25. Amy-Texas

    I'm amazed at all the e-mails condeming Mike Huckabee for being a Christian. It just shows how far we have gotten away from God in the USA. Be for warned people of the end times and be careful who you do pick to be our next leader. Mike Huckabee could restore the Christian belief we have in a leader and is exactly what our nation is in desperate need of. I'm voting for Huckabee because he is a solid Christian man and I believe could help lead this nation back to what I believe in.

    December 27, 2007 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
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