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. Florida voter

    Perhaps Mr. Huckabee meant to imply the continued practice of martial law. If Mr. Romey can wiggle out of his statement of "I saw my father march with Martin Luther King" and "I'm a life long hunter" it sounds reasonable to me. I'd rather have an honest person in the White House then one who can't keep his stories straight.

    December 27, 2007 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  2. Terry Cox

    I live in Arkansas. This is a peek at the tip of a big iceberg. Just because he is a Christian and you want to vote for him because you are a Christian I can understand that. But folks, This is not about church. Once Gov. Huckabee makes up his mind about something he does not change it. You say well, he has a cabinet, a defense minster, a vice prez. etc....No, no, no no. It don't work that way with the Huckmeister. This guy is Jimmy Carter on steroids. You will regret this guy being president. He will get us in a nuclear war through sheer stupidity alone.

    December 27, 2007 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  3. David Jost

    This man just can't run our country. I believe he is a good man, probably a good Christian, and maybe even better than some of his competitors, but we can't have someone who so flagrantly defies education in this and in other cases running our country. Whatever his pros, the fact is that Mike interprets the bible literally, has repeatedly shown no understanding of economics, and now clearly doesn't have any idea about foreign policy. This just isn't the man to lead us.

    December 27, 2007 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  4. David, Oregon City

    Do you really enjoy being a surrogate gossiper distributing political gossip for candidates owned by Wall Street’s elite? GOOD LUCK WITH THAT! Wise people know the difference between gossip and fact.

    Or, would you rather spend your spare time doing something honorable and help Mike Huckabee remove the “For Sale” from the lawn of the White House? Your choice.

    Go Huckabee!

    December 27, 2007 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  5. Mrs. America

    I think he has been too busy delivering paid speeches and killing birds to pay attention to what's happening outside his blinders. Do we really want someone dumber than GW in the WH for the next four years? It is a frightening thought.

    December 27, 2007 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  6. mack520

    Maybe, given the insight of the prior comments, what the United States needs, is a President who will focus our attention on our own nation, which we may have some hope of understanding. We have not done a particularly good job of running the world, maybe we should focus on what happens within our own borders, such as they are. There is a Republican candidate like that. It ain't Huck.

    December 27, 2007 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  7. Mario Uy Streamwood IL

    To all Huckabee's defenders:

    Your argument sounds familiar. It depends on what the meaning of is is...isn't that what you're saying?

    December 27, 2007 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  8. Nate, Minneapolis, MN

    Wow...shocks me how people take generic statments too literally (that includes you CNN). Let's talk about the issues this election vs. gotcha sound-bites that aren't reflective of a candidates position/voting history.

    Why exactly is Huckabee being attacked? Cuz he's ahead? Cuz it works and as smart as the American Public is, they fall for negative campaigning (from both sides) every time?

    Let's summarize...Hilary wasn't the meddling First Wife, now she's the "experienced candidate." Obama is off the charts on lack of experience, that's why voters like his optimist message. (but somehow CNN thinks he and Hilary, with 8 years as first lady and 2 years as a US Senator have "qualified" them to be President.) Now a 10 year Governor (Huckabee) doesn't have experience? Anyone notice the Mass Media moving from attacking Giuliani, Thompson, McCain to ignoring them? What will it take for the Media to start paying attention to the true "change agents" in the election. People hate Bush, hate the Dem Congress, equally divide Hate and Love for the Clinton Machine...Bush's approval rating is at an all time low, as is the Dem. Congress. WAKE UP MEDIA AND AMERICA, we want change! (Reasonable change, not Media nor extremist dictated change).

    Blah, Blah, Blah CNN...your ratings will improve and your dialogue will be seen as geniune as soon as you start acknowleging the options to your viewers.

    We're smarter than you think...


    Minneapolis, MN

    December 27, 2007 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  9. Ian, Ann Arbor

    This is not a big deal. Paleeze. It pales in comparison to the man's platform – especially the courage to rally the people to a national consumption tax.

    December 27, 2007 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  10. GoodWench

    Huckabee is well known in Canada for his foreign policy gaffes...check out youtube – search Huckabee Mercer and watch him congratulate us on saving our national igloo...way to go Mike...

    December 27, 2007 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  11. Laura, San Antonio, TX

    Oh brother – if you can't read Huckabee's comments and see that he is referring to continued martial law in the future, not the present, you are not smart enough to vote and ought to stay home, and you are definitely not smart enough to report a news story.

    December 27, 2007 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  12. Jack Jodell, MN

    The times demand that we nominate and elect someone with experience and knowlege in our own federal government and in foreign affairs. George W. Bush is ample proof of that. That is why it would be a disaster to elect someone like Giuliani, Huckabee, or Obama as President. We love to bellyache about politicians and insiders. But the fact is, with our government broken and dysfunctional, and world events being what they are, the times demand that we elect a leader who has professional expertise and experience, not merely one with lofty or clever-sounding platitudes. So get serious, America, and leave all the inexperienced pretenders and opportunists behind where they belong!

    December 27, 2007 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  13. Ken

    Keep in mind......Most of the people running Huck down....Are the second tier news folks and the people who ae watching him from the backside...Just think where Romney would be with no money.....I mean he is a joke anyway.......but he would really be bad then....He needs a full staff to just keep up with what he said yesterday..

    December 27, 2007 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  14. issa

    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

    I agree.

    December 27, 2007 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  15. issa

    it's so sad that these so called educated people would believe that they evolved from apes.

    December 27, 2007 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  16. K.A> Vijaisimh

    Huckabee is dead on center with the facts. He has his facts correctly! It is the other GOP candidates who cannot figure the meaning of lifting martial law in full!

    It is high time the GOP faithful realize that Huckabee's courageous voice serve as a beacon for the GOP going forward so as to extrciate from the quicksand the current administration is responsbile for.

    Go Huckabee Go!

    When will the GOP faithful realize that respected Senator Hagel from Nebraska and Governor Huckabee are stating common sense!

    A loyal American citizen!


    December 27, 2007 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  17. mike

    when has pakistan has not been under military strong man, killing of bhutto has the military ready to break up. time to clean up the islamic terrorests

    December 28, 2007 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  18. Ward Ciac, New York, New York


    Time to vote for Ron Paul.

    December 28, 2007 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  19. PBJ, San Diego CA

    The "update" was worse than the original statement. In the words of PeeWee Herman, "I meant to do that."

    December 28, 2007 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  20. Matt

    "Tell me which one is more logical, believing in a Sovereign, Creator (ie. God) or a statically impossible fairytale (ie. evolution)?" – SPD

    You're right, SPD. Static electricity had very little to do with it.

    December 28, 2007 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  21. Ivan, Chicago, Illinois

    Huckabee makes Bush look like a Rhodes Scholar when it comes to foreign affairs.

    December 28, 2007 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  22. Dale Davis, Glendora, California

    Dear Americans of all beliefs and religious and even non-religious persuations. Please do not even consider this buffoon as our possible next President.
    If it's true that he was a keynote speaker at an anti-Mormon rally in 1998 at Salt Lake City for the Southern Baptist Convention, as well as the confirmed side comment about the Mormons with the Jesus/Satan brothers thing, just imagine what a liability he is to his own church, the Republican Party, as well as the nation. He would be mince meat for any opposing candidate, even Pat Paulson.

    December 28, 2007 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  23. Karen, Little Rock, AR

    Huckleberry strikes again....sigh.

    The photo-op pheasant bagging was bad enough (an Arkansan who hunts well..what a shocker!) but now he's gone and opened his mouth about things of which he has limited, if any, knowledge. True to form, he's plugged the hole with his foot.

    Go ahead, y' the man into office. Once you're done, prepare to be standing right along with him when he 'innocently' insult foreign dignitaries and finds new and amazing ways to embarass the country. Perhaps, if you are lucky, he'll trash some federal property like he did the hard drives here in Arkansas before leaving office.

    You think the Clinton adminstration was fun? Honey, you ain't seen nothing yet. 😉

    December 28, 2007 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  24. max burns

    Pakistan has nukes, the huckster don't have clues.

    December 28, 2007 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  25. Jackie

    i have to give barack some credit on this Pakistan thing

    back in i believe August, he gave a speech say the U.S. should actively engage in pakistan to chase down terrorist that are hiding there, with or without Musharruf's support

    he did call attention to this issue sometime ago...but was call "naive and irresponsible" by clinton

    Edwards 08!!!

    December 28, 2007 03:30 am at 3:30 am |
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