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. jacob

    He explained himself. the hate from your comments show that you were waiting for a mistake from huckabee. As Hillary fakes that she had a front row seat in Bill's white house and Obama pretends to know what he is talking about and Edwards talks about two americas, go ahead jump on huckabees statement when so many more stupid things are being said by other people in the race.

    December 28, 2007 03:39 am at 3:39 am |
  2. Justin

    Maybe Huckabee should start answering only planted questions with pre-drafted responses?

    I wonder what Hillary's response to the same question would have been.

    She'd likely just recite a line about children's health care or something like that.

    Out of the candidates in both parties, McCain, Obama, and Huckabee have been the most forthright instead of staying to scripted propaganda.

    Each have "suffered" gaffes like this, but in the end I'd much rather have one of them in office than a talking campaign ad.

    December 28, 2007 04:38 am at 4:38 am |
  3. sal lincoln nebraska

    This guy has no idea whats going on....Thats obvious to see he proves it every day...He keeps talking and talking, then go back and say what he ment to say...After they get a chance to fact check and update, but for what he knows on the spot he dosnt know anything...For anyone sticking up for this guy here, your a testiment to what america needs to leave behind....As far as creation goes, thats more stupid then what he's said about Pakistan, Shooting people, Paul is dead, Holy Christmas subliminal crosses....Creationism is a total joke, once again if you believe that your part of america that needs to be left behind....We all came from a dying star, heaven dosnt exist its a state of mind. hell isnt real, the devil isnt real....Its very scary to think people are out their basing any important discions believing in myths and metaphors....Forget the terrorists watch out for the creationists they want to burn you at the stake and they live in your hometown!!!!!!!!!

    December 28, 2007 05:32 am at 5:32 am |
  4. Kerry, Lexington MA

    What a joke. The guy clearly was incorrect and instead of admitting to his ignorance, he tries to justify it.

    December 28, 2007 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  5. Spidey

    This gaffe is minor compared to the other million reasons to vote against Huck. The guy has been making money from speaking to churches while he's been running for president,claiming he needs money to pay his mortgage.He's taken money form embryonic stem cell research groups while claiming to be pro-life. he claims his theology degree (which he never really completed) would help him understand the Muslim world. he sucks up to any al all groups that advance his personal fortunes even if the fly in the face of being a conservative. The NEA loves him. His system of self reward while governor of Ark. is just cringing.

    December 28, 2007 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  6. W.D.Russell, East Liverpool, Ohio

    The gaffe was intentional. He is going after the Bush supporters. If they voted for one fool they might vote for another one.

    December 28, 2007 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  7. arfisher, Midlothian, VA

    There is no plan with Huckabee, background knowledge or understanding, he just puts out fires on a daily basis intermingled with corny jokes. We really can't afford this folks. Very nice guy but please pick the most competent leader here.

    December 28, 2007 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  8. Mike, Fredericksburg VA

    Hey, Huck!
    Don't worry about it. Put a positive spin on your comment. Like Obama you should have the clarity to question the status quo; like Clinton, claim you have the experience and prescience to have foreseen Bhutto's death. Be firm, be resolute; in short, be a politician. That is what we really need in Washington DC.

    December 28, 2007 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  9. Michelle

    This dude is RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT… he needs to keep up with the news, he needs not know WHERE Pakitsan is (next to india)… Its not understanble ....

    Iam hoping that at least he has spell check...turns out we are all mortal?? Thank you for reminding me of that as I go through my normal human day....

    He is a presidential candidate. Every last one of them is going to say something stupid..and it gets worse once they actually get into office. You've already decided who you will vote for (that's all that really matters here) and it's not based on this statement (it's based on a world of other ideals), so let it go...lest YOUR mistakes be pointed out to you today. No, we're not running for president and this is exactly WHY...we are too human. Back to back seat driving...

    December 28, 2007 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  10. Michelle

    "He is really ignorant."

    Agreed. Truly, present to me one candidate, either side, who isn't. So far, none are impressive – all of the "non-idiots" are too intelligent NOT to be running for this job. Sad, but true.

    December 28, 2007 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  11. Matt Baker, Chanute Ks

    Huck doesnt mind rapist being released to murder, why would he care what happens in pakistan?

    December 28, 2007 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  12. jim Scottsdale AZ

    Please let us get someone that understands Foreign policy and has experience.

    Ron Paul

    December 28, 2007 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  13. Paul Helderle

    I don't care if this guy is not the international news policy wonk that you want him to be. He does not have the funding, the staffing and the organization of Romney or Guiliani to feed him all of his sound bites on the latest and greatest goings on with regard to international news and yet look what he has been able to do with his campaign. I think this guy will be able to step up to the plate when needed. He is definitely dingable on this issue but for me it does not resonate very far.

    I want our borders secured. I want to end our addiction to Mideast oil by switching to alternative fuels. This guy is strong on my two big issues. If he can succeed on these two issues he will make America stronger for the next generation.

    Until the world body, especially the Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, joins the US and Europe in fighting Al Qaeda we should put our economic focus (MONEY) towards reducing our dependence on oil, securing our borders and rebuilding/repairing our roads.

    I am tired of spending our money on International efforts that will not bear any fruits without the active support of the world body. Fighting Al Qaeda without that support is just like playing the Wack a Mole game. Where ever there is a poor country Al Qaeda will go. So if we succeed in Afganistan, Pakastan, Iraq they will just move onto the next poor country.

    I've read the book the Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright and have read other books and articals on the subject so I am not discounting the threat of Al Qaeda but until we get international support, monetarily and militarily,then all we are doing is playing the Wack a Mole game and I am just not a fan of that.

    It is not worth being fiscally irresponsible. It is not worth letting our roads and bridges deteriorate. It is not worth not being able to secure our borders. When did it become unAmerican to want to help America first. I'm ready for America to be a little selfish with it's money.

    I am not an isolationist but this go it alone Bush administration is bankrupting our country in so many ways. Al Qaeda is not an enemy we can fight alone. It has no borders and the sticks and carrots that we use with countries like Iran and Korea won't work against this enemy.

    So the fact that Huckabee is not up on the current state of martial law in Pakastan is a little low on what constitues a serious dingable offense. But we each have our priorities on what America needs.

    December 28, 2007 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  14. Michelle

    Haha, sometimes you have to be amazed at the ignorance of some people. And I shudder at the ignorance of a Presidential candidate like Huck…
    As a Pakistani, it doesnt surprise me this is true though. Ive had people ask me if Pakistan was next to Iraq, in the Middle East?
    Now thats pretty freaking ignorant, wouldnt you say?

    Agreed. I'm more concerned with the intelligence of the general public who actually affect me today on a personal basis than who MAY have a chance at the White House – let's wait until after the primaries to really be concerned. Do something about education in this country RIGHT NOW and how we are raising our leaders of tomorrow before we pick up our stones to someone we only know through a camera lens and microphone (which by the way, is how everyone here is also their information – if it is not on our TV, we don't think it exists or is a problem...also an "ignorant" way to live..there's more to life than our lazy American lives wish to explore and consider for ourselves)

    The average American doesn't even know what martial law is, much less a country's current political status because it doesn't affect us directly so we really don't care – that's the GENERAL voting public. Not as a criticisim, but truth of your friends and neighbors who don't care much outside of their own lives.

    If you want to know the truth, the real truth, research it for yourself and make your own conclusions. More time educating ourselves overall and less time looking for stones to throw, then you make your own personal, intelligent decision as to who to vote for, and you get back to supporting the education of a future leader.

    December 28, 2007 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  15. Michelle

    correction: everyone here is also getting their information...a real leader is not perfect, just knows how to properly respond 🙂 🙂

    December 28, 2007 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  16. Noah, Emmitsburg, MD

    if he becomes president, i'm leaving the country

    December 28, 2007 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  17. me in Texas

    Huck-wanabee could have made a perfect VP for GWB.... It would have made George look, sound intelligent and smart.

    December 28, 2007 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  18. Ecpjvv

    Reminds me of when the media tried to portray Reagan as stating that nuclear missiles could be recalled if fired from a submarine, which he never said. He had to correct that media creation in a debate with Mondale. The way the media is going after Huckabee is similar to what they did with Reagan, which makes me support the man.

    My question is this, when is this super nitpicky standard going to be applied to Senator Clinton? (of course the answer is NEVER)

    December 28, 2007 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  19. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Given that Huckabee was a governor of a state, how much should we expect for him to know outside his state and his bible? This does not excuse him from the responsiblity of learning about the other countries out there that the US deals with on various issues. Pakistan just happens to be one country that we deal with on the currently major subject of religiously sponsored terrorism.

    December 28, 2007 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  20. CintiKid

    He's not ready .....

    December 28, 2007 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  21. Ali A. Akbar

    Huckabee is so full of it. Amazing... I guess we all could've figured his camp would spin this.

    December 28, 2007 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  22. Todd

    Maybe I'm too innocent, but I agree with everyone who assumed that Huckabee feared the return of martial law in Pakistan and not its continuation. It makes sense; the only indicator to me that he wasn't aware of Pakistan's political situation was CNN's headline for the story.

    December 28, 2007 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  23. John, New York

    Can you hear it? One more Republican candidate's polularity balloon is deflating.

    First, McCain was the refreshing "straight talker", but turned out to be less charismatic than people had hoped.

    Then Romney took the stage as the "great administrator", but he turned out to have more wiggle room in his positions on issues than a pole dancer.

    Then Giuliani was the "national security hero", but the evangelicals hated him.

    Then Thompson stepped in as the "religious right's savior", only to jump into the campaign with as much enthusiasm as if someone had just asked him to wash the dishes.

    Now Huckabee, everybody's "favorite pastor", is demonstrating that he is less than impressive when it comes to intellectual rigor.

    Its no wonder that all five of these guys are within 10 points of each other in the polls. Republicans voters are now faced with choosing the least bad choice among bad options. Maybe Tancredo and Gilmore left too soon!

    December 28, 2007 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  24. Mike, Fredericksburg, VA

    The people making a big deal out of Huckabee's comments on Pakistan's martial law are his opponents at the National Review and a few others who are making one last-ditch attempt to derail a Huckabee victory in Iowa. I see that a new LA Times/Bloomberg poll in Iowa has Huckabee leading by 14 points.

    December 28, 2007 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  25. Greg, Philadelphia PA

    We have all seen the dangers of elevating someone to high office without adequite knowledge of international affairs. This "minor gaffe" highlights his lack of knowledge on many subjects beyond his intellectual comfort zone (Christianity). This is a man who does not seek out impartial information to build a more complete view of the world. In light of this concern, the critisism of Huckabee's support of Creationism is valid. How can we trust a persons judgment if they trust the words of a book written by men thousands of years ago over empirical evidence from virtually every scientific discipline (geology, biology, astronomy and physics to name a few). Creationism (or Intelligent Design) is not science by any stretch and any attempt to cast it as such reflects a profound ignorance at best or if not a more sinister attempt to mislead the public. You can always find some crakckpots in any field that will support an outside viewpoint with pseudo-science , but there is no proof of intelligent design, which is why it isnt the subject of scientific papers in peer reviewed journals. There is a reason why 99.9% of us specifically trained in science such as myself ( a doctoral student studying Immunology and Microbial Pathogenesis) reject Creationism, and that is because it isnt supported by the facts when observed impartially. Religion alone should not be a factor in electing a person, but respect for empirical evidence and a drive to understand the world we all share is a must if we are create a more enlightened world.

    December 28, 2007 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
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