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. Chris, Silicon Valley, CA, USA

    I don't know. I think his experience is lacking, but I think maybe too much is being made of this. It is not like he thought she was still Prime Minister. I remember thinking something like, "When where they NOT under marshal law?" Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf is a dictator w/ a lot of animosity directed toward him from his own people. That country is extremely shaky. Couple that w/ campaigning 24/7 in the freezing cold and being immersed in that... I sort of feel like several of these guys could have made this gaffe, and they are sitting back thinking, "Wow – I am glad that was not me," but they are still happy to exploit it.

    December 27, 2007 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  2. Leo Cummings

    The bottom line is that Huckabee is inexperienced and sloppy. If you know, as a candidate, that you severely lack international experience and expertise, why are you not getting DAILY briefings on international affairs to close this gap immediately? This is just sloppy and America deserves far better.

    December 27, 2007 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  3. Jeff from Jersey

    I can not only find Pakistan on a map,I also understand that the entire Republican party combined has the foreign policy intelligence of a gnat and that the only "relations" that the conservative extremists are concerned with are of a sexual nature.Their so-called domestic and foreign policies are essentially the same thing...If they're not american citizens,straight,married or celibate,employed and whatever THEY deem to be Christian...then,domestically they should be kicked out of the country or left die and internationally,kicked or blown off of the planet!
    Unless they are an elected politician or even some evangelists,then the whole sexual issue doesn't seem to apply.Jim Baker and Jimmy Swaggert to name a few from the christian evangelical "sexual rules don't apply to me" file and..well there are just far to many to list from the elected official "exceptions to the rules" part of this list.
    Bottom line is not a single republican candidate is qualified to be president of our country at this time in global history.It's only a miracle that Bush hasn't already brought about World War Three, and if any of these republican foreign policy "midgets" are elected then I am quite sure that he will finish the job of starting it.

    December 27, 2007 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  4. DB, Vegas

    "Pakistanis? Honestly, I don't know much about that. Don't they reject the real God and believe in Allah and Mohammed?"

    - Mike Huckleberry, Runnin' for Prez-dent

    December 27, 2007 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  5. Mark

    "Critics" jump on Huckabee Pakistan gaffe" The only "critic" is see in this article is Rebecca Sinderbrand. Another CNN Huckabee attack add!! Don't you know the average reader can see right through it!!!

    December 27, 2007 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  6. clv129

    i'm wondering why huckabee feels our 'apologies' are necessary to pakistan!???

    December 27, 2007 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  7. Adam Smith, somewhere in time

    For Christs sake he is human who cares if he made a small error in knowledge. Even the most gifted intellectuals dont know everthing about everything.
    the only thing that really matters in this upcoming election is to make sure you dont vote for a corporate funded puppit.

    America if it is to survive desperately needs leadership who can so no to corporate interests and yes to the common good of its citizens. Huckabee shows promise in this aspect. Remember the most brilliant man is completely worthless if he has sold his soul to big business.

    December 27, 2007 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  8. Travis, Gainesville, FL

    janice, I noticed that too!!! And no one else did? Tell me Pastor Huckabee, what does America have to apologize for? Did an American pull the trigger that killed Bhutto? Did an American blow themselves up? Which American needs to apologize? Maybe our troops overseas need to apologize? I guess this one was the fault of Bush's arrogant bunker mentality too, right? You sir are not presidential material. Go make a workout tape and sell that on e-bay if you want something to do.

    December 27, 2007 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  9. Susan Mark, Salt Lake City Utah

    I'm voting for Romney, but come on it's the holiday season, everyone give the man a break and let him explain what he really meant by his comment.

    December 27, 2007 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  10. Donald, Butte, MT

    This man is considered a serious candidate for the Republican nomination??? That's all we need another ignorant person who know nothing about world affairs beyond the shores of this country. Its almost as bad as a previous Republican not knowing that Eastern Europe was under communist domination during a Presidential debate!!!
    If this the best the Republican can offer??? Nothing, but candiates that have no ideal of what's going on in this world??? No wonder we keep screwing up foreign affairs with people like this.
    Go home and do your homework!!

    December 27, 2007 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  11. Charles in Salt Lake City, UT

    Oh, for god's sake, people! Could you PLEASE be patient? Especially you Republicans!

    Wait until AFTER Huckabee edges out Romney in Iowa and New Hampshire, effectively ending that pretender's shot. THEN go after Huckabee and point out how basically unelectable he is. That will clear the way for someone else who has been patiently (and wisely) waiting in the background to step forward and and assume the mantle of the true conservative that he is.

    Fred Thompson. Experience, savvy, and consistency.

    December 27, 2007 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  12. J Williamson Bufalo, NY

    Yeah, and now his "handlers" will come out and "explain" the old Huck knew the complete facts – only the media "misintrepreted" him. Hey! Geo Bush has dozens of these clean-up artists on the payroll (God knows he's needed them) so perhaps they can come and work for Huckabee, should he win that big brass ring.

    December 27, 2007 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  13. Roy

    Huckabee is too busy attacking Romney's Mormonism and defending his own crass Holy Glowing Bookcase Christmas ad to pay attention to world events – after all, what does Pakistan have to do with "the war on secularists" and taking "the Nation back for Christ"?

    December 27, 2007 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  14. Doug

    In this day and age it shouldn't and apparently doesn't matter to the american public that this or any other candidate has a minor slip up or any knowledge in foreign policy. The proof of this was the election of the current president who had no knowledge of foreign anything when he ascended to office....remember? That's where Dick Cheney came in. So surely republicans aren't trying to hold Mr. Hucklebee to any sort of standard of expertise and credentials. To make matters worse, the democratic field doesn't have anyone either! Hillary? being first lady is not experience, no more so than my being in an airport on a regular basis makes me a pilot. Wake up people and stopped being duped by the establishment of both parties this ain't a football or soccer game where being on the winning "Team" or side is the reason to vote.

    December 27, 2007 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  15. Brad

    With the poor spelling, bad English, and crass reasoning in these responses, I can only conclude that the internet crowd is insufficient to judge the governor. It's as if verbiage plus a few scraps from the daily news are equal to wisdom. Small chance.

    December 27, 2007 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  16. matt

    He might not know much about foreign affairs but rest assured he knows how to increase taxes. Go tax hike mike!!

    December 27, 2007 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  17. B.J. mcClure

    We already have one dummy in the white House, we don't need another.

    December 27, 2007 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  18. Paul Thompson

    The news media is making news....

    anything to make a Christian look dumb...

    All he said is that this is going to impact the future of their country
    with the very real concern of martial law and instability.

    Mike Huckabee is leading every poll....get over it!

    Go Huck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    December 27, 2007 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  19. billy bruce

    Truthfully? I didn't see any gaffe at all. It's being blown way out of proportion. Huckabee only said there is a question as to whether martial law might be continued after this assasination. In essence, CNN anchors were asking the same question this morning–might martial law be implemented again? In the quickness and lead-off remarks of that moment, I really think CNN is blowing that so far out of proportion. I guess that's why so many conservatives see a liberal bias and don't watch CNN any more. I see the liberal slant but I trust the factual reporting more. I also see the conservative slant at Fox and that bothers me just as bad. So really? I look for what I believe to be facts. And I don't think the facts support this blast on Huckabee over this one. Very very hair splitting and minor to even wind up in a ticker point I think.

    December 27, 2007 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  20. truthseeker

    Huckabee is a TV evangelist – he did not even graduate from a college- yet he did stay in a Holiday Inn last night –

    I am surprised he didn't ask to lead the Mormon worshipers in prayer at the funeral.

    He has the evangelicals vote hook line and sinker- but he does not have a clue about world or economic affairs.

    If he is a true Republican I am Albert Einstein.

    December 27, 2007 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  21. Nathan H

    The wording of the quote does not necessarily say that Huckabee believes martial law has been in effect continuously. If I said after the Christmas break, "I will now continue school," that doesn't mean that I've been continuously in school during the break. Geez, give him the benefit of the doubt on this one. The grammar is flexible. The press is taking his words and pouring a controversial meaning into them. Do we really think that he didn't know martial law ended two weeks ago? Think about it.

    December 27, 2007 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  22. Jim Mooney

    Oh, come on, Bush got elected twice and he barely knows where Texas is.

    December 27, 2007 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  23. Rand Thinker, Liberty RP

    We have over 700 military bases in over 130 countries. Only one candidate has pointed this out to the American people. Thank you Ron Paul. By the way can you even name 130 different countries? nevermind afford the $1 Trillion it costs to maintain these bases each year. It's funny how we protect Seoul better than we protect NYC or DC.

    December 27, 2007 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  24. dave

    This is what happens when our inept administration tries to instill their ideas of democracy within a country that has so many underlying issues. This administration knows absolutely nothing about foreign policy, with the exception of trying to force their idealism on others without thinking about the consequences. Musharraf is walking a fine line of trying to appease, and keep at bay, the radicals that have infiltrated his country, as well as the unrealistic naïve ideas of this administration. If he leans too much to our right, he’ll be the next to be assassinated.

    We stick our noses in where it doesn't belong way too often and this is the outcome. I also want to comment on Obama's statement regarding sending our troops over there to keep the peace. This shows his inexperience and why he needs to drop out of the presidential race immediately. I can't wait until this current ship of fools finally sets sail out of Washington. What an embarrassment they’ve been to our country.

    December 27, 2007 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  25. Bob

    At least Mr. Huckabee knew Pakistan had been under martial law recently. Maybe he was just out phesant hunting when news broke that Pakistan was no longer under martial law. . .

    December 27, 2007 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11