September 26th, 2008
02:12 PM ET
14 years ago

McCain made 'huge mistake,' Huckabee says

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Huckabee thinks McCain made a big mistake."]

(CNN) - Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said Friday the John McCain made a "huge mistake" by even floating the possibility he would not appear at the first presidential debate as planned.

“You can’t just say, ‘World stop for a moment. I’m going to cancel everything,” Huckabee told the Associated Press Thursday.

Huckabee, who vied with McCain for the GOP presidential nomination long after it appeared McCain was the party's presumptive nominee, has been an on-and-off critic of the Arizona senator. Earlier this summer he took part in a Washington, DC rally calling on McCain and Obama to highlight more evangelical issues on the campaign trail. He also criticized McCain's campaign when it alleged Obama's "lipstick on a pig" comments was an intended slight at Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin.

McCain abruptly announced Wednesday he would travel to Washington in hopes of striking a deal on the economic bailout deal, and said he would not attend a debate unless an agreement had been reached. Late Friday morning campaign aides said McCain felt sufficient progress had been made on the and he would attend the debate.

But the bill itself appears very much up in the air. After what was described by members of both parties as a "contentious" meeting at the White House Thursday afternoon, congressional leaders are still trying to hammer out a compromise on the Bush administration proposal. Speaking to reporters Friday morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said McCain's presence on the Hill helped stall negotiations.

"All he has done is stand in front of the cameras," said Reid, who has long had a chilly relationship with McCain. "We still don't know where he stands on the issue."

soundoff (363 Responses)
  1. Independent

    Observers at the White House meeting:
    "Mr. McCain was at one end of the long conference table, Mr. Obama at the other, with the president and senior Congressional leaders between them. Participants said Mr. Obama peppered Mr. Paulson with questions, while Mr. McCain said little."

    What was McCain playing at? The House Republicans pulled the plug on the deal now so that it looks like McCain is riding to the rescue later. But McCain had nothing to contribute anyway! This was partisanship at its worst from McCain. He was putting the economy at risk so that he looked good. Unbelievable.

    September 26, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  2. Big D

    I agree that McCain made a huge mistake – but it's been just one risky half-thought-through move after another with McCain. He continues to act recklessly and inpulsively.
    Obama continues to show good judgement and an even temperment – McCain acts impulsively and takes risks that are inappropriate. Obama shows true character and leadership.

    September 26, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  3. Peggy Munro

    Oh yes he has. He showed weakness in a time requiring great strength and the people saw that. There is no spinning out of this one.

    September 26, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  4. LIP

    Huckabee lost and now he has a sour grape attitude.
    McCain did the right thing and the Republicans are doing the right thing by trying to come up with alternatives other than just giving them what they want. Surely that is what negotiations are all about.
    Lets give the system a chance to work and then we can go back to pointing fingers later

    September 26, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  5. Dana

    Well when Huckabee tells you it was a mistake- then there you go! What do all the raging Republicans jumping to McCain's defense say now?
    This is going to be an interesting debate tonight, and no doubt McCain will claim tomorrow after Obama wins this debate- that he didn't have time to prepare blah blah- because he had to save the bailout (that he contributed nothing to by the way) blah blah- because its not fair and its the media's fault- the darn New York Times, the liberal media- blah blah, Im John McCain and I think I approve this message, I mean they told me I should, I!!!

    Obama/Biden 08- Real Leadership for a 21st Century World, for all people of all nationalities- for the UNITED States of America!

    September 26, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  6. ines

    A huge mistake – That McCain, in a time of crisis, would use America like a pawn, leveraging his campaign 'suspension' (not), riding into Washington just to throw a monkey wrench into the negotiations, and offering an ultimatum – Deal or No Debate.

    The PEOPLE deserve to see and hear the issues before they have to vote in just a matter of weeks. The lies and the arrogance are more than a sign of desperation – It is weakness.

    September 26, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  7. The Lamb

    Just one of many. Take your pick!!

    Mc Same and Sara Palidin (have gun will travel and demonstrate a vacuous retort), especially when I get pressed for an intelligent answer.

    She is an empty dress, pantsuit and hairstyle

    September 26, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  8. Ryan

    Wow. Harsh but very true words.

    I didn't agree with everything Huckabee said on the campaign trail (that's true of every politician it seems), but he's right about this one.

    September 26, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  9. Bill

    Huckabee is right. If Obama can juggle the pressures of the economic crisis and still discuss and debate other pressing issues, and McCain cannot, then in my opinion it speaks volumes of which candidate is best suited to handle the many pressures and responsibilities of the job of President.

    It's unfortunate there wasn't a way for this debate to be focused on domestic and economic issues and do the foreign policy focus on a later debate.

    September 26, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  10. Merced

    Obama got into their heads and kept his cool, but McMaverick wanted to play with fire, which blew up in his face. Trying to be the International/National hero by playing politics with peoples lifes, houses, finances and future payed of pretty well!! Holding groups hostage with his misplaced 'presidential' behavior: no deal –no debate left him to pick up the tab by his own ‘Texas/Taxes 'R Us mentality’ people . That goes for the 'suspending' of the debate as well: The Commission should sue the DEALBREAKER for the costs being made ($5mln..?!). His peeps speak of ' no problems of debating on foreign policy' , this being his forte (a french word meaning 'strength'). Since his perception of the world only extends to POW'experience' in Asia, the word 'forte' by his book means:
    Fort Knox 'R(eps) Us.
    Here 's some straight talk on the economy Dear John: 'Beggars must not be choosers'. The rules have shifted, you only don't realize it yet. Keep swinging your magic stick, from which the power has fled. Get accustomed to adaptation to new circumstances. The higher the rise the deeper the fall. So Good Luck on your ’Golden Parachutes Deal’ to comfort the fall!!

    September 26, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  11. DanDare

    I think Hucakmee and Reid need to move on...

    September 26, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  12. David Tshil

    Does this sounds the end of the McCain campaign? Can we still trust McCain? Where is his judgement? He is just a political calculator with no vision.

    September 26, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  13. brian

    McCain took another gut gamble and lost to the house again.

    First it was Palin, then it was debate-gate, what next? A nuclear missle gamble with Russia or North Korea? No thanks. I don't want John McCasino running our country – he's not good enough at reading the tables.

    September 26, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  14. Mike

    Huckabee is honest and right on. The Republicans came up with this Bail out plan. They screamed and threatened that it must be done right now. Palin warned of a great Depression. A Bi Partison group of Finance Experts work out a deal. AND THEN. McBush pulls this wacky (maverick) political stunt. Shows up in Washington and sticks his uninformed nose in. Causes the Emergency Deal that Bush asked for , to collapse. And now the Republicans will not even cooperate to get their own deal finished !! Country First ? Yeah Right?

    September 26, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  15. TexicoFrom Mexico

    Im a democrat but I always admired Huck for standing by his beliefs....and he is spot on in regards to this issue. McCain was wrong and the thing can only dance so long before you have to pay the fiddler.....but thats true in all aspects of life.

    Veterans for Obama

    September 26, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  16. Craig

    Reid can suck an egg.

    One day he wants McCain's opinion and positions.

    The very next day when McCain says he's going to Washington Reid says they don't need his input.

    Who's playing politics here? Quite easy to see.

    McCain/Palin 2008

    September 26, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  17. Nick - Arlington, VA

    I don't agree with Huckabee when it comes to social issues or politics, but I have always liked this guy from the beginning. Good sense of humor and an all around good guy who cuts the bull.

    OBAMA-BIDEN 2008

    September 26, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  18. Rachel

    Thank you, Huckabee. I don't agree completely with him on all the issues, but I thought he presented himself very well during the early debates and I respect his opinion.
    "If the choice was between a government program and a starving child, I'll take the government program, no question."~Mike Huckabee (I don't think that's an exact quote, but it's pretty close.)

    September 26, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  19. Dave of MD

    Never thought I would say this, but I agree with Huckabee. Mccain has shown the world that he can't multi-task.

    Obama/Biden 08/12

    September 26, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  20. last Honest man

    Tell the Demmies to SHUT UP and do the deal. Schummer and Reid should be taken out and flogged for their political grand standing

    September 26, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |

    McCain was playing the GAME and if he wins this country will be in store for more of the SAME...and for those of you that haven't come to that realization it will be one Damm SHAME.

    OBAMA 08

    September 26, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  22. Karen

    Wow! Even Huckabee saw through McCain's smoke screen. This is absolutely crazy politics and it's McCain riding the wild horse. McCain's on again, off again, crazy, trying to make a statement by claim to cancel the debate is ridiculous. He wanted the American people to say he's putting the country first when he's not, he is a nothing more than grandstander that's including his brazzar comments and actions. American People we do not need this man as our next President. We already have an idiot in the White House and we do not need another one. Obama, stay focus on the economy because we the American people are seeing who can stand strong in the mist of a crisis.

    September 26, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  23. Paul, Riverside, CA

    The GOP lost the day McCain became their nominee.

    Don't agree so much with Huckabee's FAR-RIGHT views, but I have to admit, he would have been a better choice as the nominee:


    September 26, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  24. Jordan - San Marcos TX

    Obama called his bluff, and by doing so has all but won this election.

    Obama/Biden '08

    September 26, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  25. Barney

    McCain IS a mistake. S&L – Keating 5 was the beginning of deregulation that initially started all this back-handed stuff.

    September 26, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
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