Two Sides of the Same Issue? Former Gov. Mike Huckabee on Barack Obama's Iraq Policy Flip

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," July 7, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: And welcome to "Hannity & Colmes." It's great to be back, and we get to our "Top Story" tonight.

Election day is now less than four months away, and for months we've been hearing about how the situation in Iraq will be a defining issue for voters in the fall, but that almost presumes the situation would be bad, but all indications are, in fact, the situation on the ground is vastly improved.

Last week the White House announced that 15 of 18 benchmarks in Iraq are considered "satisfactory." Now that's twice as many as a year ago.

Watch Sean and Alan's interview with Mike Huckabee

But Barack Obama still seems confused about his own position on the war and whether or not he will pull American troops out of Iraq shortly as soon as he takes office.

Last week he appeared to be on both sides of the same issue. Guess what, on the very same day:



July 3, 2008 at 2:56 p.m.

We're planning to visit Iraq. I'm going to do a thorough assessment when I'm there. ... I've always said that the pace of withdrawal would be dictated by the safety and security of our troops, and the need to maintain stability. That assessment has not changed, and when I go to Iraq and I have a chance to talk to some of the commanders on the ground, I'm sure I'll have more information, and we'll continue to refine my policies.



July 3 at 4:58 p.m.


Let me be as clear as I can be. I intend to end this war. My first day in office I will bring the Joint Chiefs of Staff in, and I will give them a new mission. I have seen no information that contradicts the notion that we can bring our troops out safely at a pace of one to two brigades per month, and, again, that pace translates into having our combat troops out in 16 months.


HANNITY: All right, now that's a mouthful, and it gets worse. Late today The Military Times also released an interview that Obama did with them last Wednesday in which he also seemed to say that he might not start an immediate withdrawal.


OBAMA: We were in a position where we continued to see reductions in violence, and stabilization and continued to see some improvements on the part of the Iraqi army and the Iraqi police.

Then, you know, my hope would be that we can draw down in a deliberate fashion in consultation with the Iraqi government at a pace that is determined in consultation with General Petraeus and the other commanders on the ground.


HANNITY: And joining us now former presidential candidate FOX News contributor, Governor Mike Huckabee.

Governor, good to see you.


HANNITY: Well, what do you -- you know, I don't read this as much as -- I can go through my litany of flip-flop, flip-flop, and then Alan will do his tit-for-tat, but there's something emerging here that is more profound, in my view, and that is -- character!

Where are the core values, the convictions that are driving him in the Oval Office? Do you think they're missing?

HUCKABEE: I agree with you. I don't think this is so much about flip-flopping. This is now beginning to show that Barack Obama can do a great headline, but he can't write the story.

You know you've seen these ads for cars, and, you know, the screaming headline is the payments are $199 a month? But then it gets down to the fine print, and it starts telling you what we're really going to pay.

I think what we're beginning to see is the fine print. Barack Obama has a magnificent headline message, but when it gets down to really saying what is it that he's going to do, if this were a television show, the name of it would be the old "What's My Line?" because...


HUCKABEE: ...I don't think he knows what he'd do.

HANNITY: Well, it's public financing, it's NAFTA, it's guns, it's Iraq, it's Iran, it's -- you know, major, major issues. I guess I was thinking as I was on vacation, you know, why is he doing this? And I think I've got the answer, and I want your take on it.

I think he's trying to hide his true beliefs from the American people because he knows he couldn't win if he were to advocate what he really believes in. Do you think that's right?

HUCKABEE: Well, Americans have consistently rejected the George McGoverns and the Michael Dukakises, the people who clearly and unapologetically are out there on the left -- the Walter Mondales who said, I'm going to raise your taxes.

So when liberals are honest about being liberals, they get beat. I think it's a situation -- you know it was interesting, you had the little clip of Jesse Helms at the opening of the show, and I'm thinking, what a contrast. The thing that many of us loved and admired about Jesse Helms was that, here was a guy, he didn't care what you thought about his view, but you were going to always know where he stood because he stood for something and he stood clearly.

I think we're not seeing that in Barack Obama especially in relationship -- to his position on the war.

HANNITY: All right, I've got to ask you the predictable question, but it's only because I love you, and we're friends and it goes back.


HANNITY: All right. We're going to hear in the next few days or in the next couple of weeks who the vice presidential choices are for Senator Barack Obama and Senator McCain.

Are you being vetted, and would you accept the job?

HUCKABEE: If I'm being vetted, it's a big secret to me. The rumor is that Sean Hannity is on the list several slots ahead of me.

HANNITY: There he goes!

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: That's a dodge, Governor. That's a dodge.

HUCKABEE: And I'm pretty sure that that's.

HANNITY: It's a bad choice, let me tell you!

COLMES: Let me pick up on Sean's question. Are you being vetted?

HUCKABEE: As far as I know, I'm not. I have not had any contact...

COLMES: As far as you know you're not.

HUCKABEE: I can tell you this. I've not had anyone from the McCain campaign contact me, nobody's that I've known of has done a background check or credit report, but then again, Alan, you know what? They don't have to because they know that I'm a good decent guy just like you so they probably wouldn't have to go through all that.

COLMES: Well, I'm not on that list, sir. I'm not up for that gig.

HUCKABEE: You know what, I will agree. In your case, you're not on that list. That's for sure.

COLMES: Yes. There's no list that long.

In any event, we're -- getting back to Obama on Iraq, he has not changed his position. He's said all along 16 months. He's said all along consistent with the safety of the troops. Tell me where he's changed his position on that.

HUCKABEE: Well, he has changed his position, Alan, with all due respect. He has said I'm going to end that war, 16 months, I'm going to walk in the day I'm sworn in.

COLMES: Consistent with the safety of the troops...

HUCKABEE: ...and we're going to start bringing them down. And then he said within two hours after this July 3rd statement, now I'm going to make sure that I talk to all the generals and -- well, what if they say, well, Mr. Obama, the truth is it'd be a disastrous genocide for us to pull out without having stability here?

COLMES: Governor...

HUCKABEE: Then everything he's been talking about goes down the toilet.

COLMES: Governor, I went back to look at his statements over the last year. He has consistently said going -- in March he said it, we'll make tactical adjustments, listening to our commanders on the ground. On "Meet the Press" back in November, he said it. He'd have a limited mission, however, still there, to protect what needs to be protected, listening to commanders on the ground.

He has said that consistently, and I think that the right is trying to make it seem as if there's daylight among his statements when there isn't any.

HUCKABEE: Alan, if it was all about the right, he would not have had to have come out and made a separate press conference in two hours. He was clearly scrambling to find his footing, and I think his own staff recognized "Senator, you stepped off in a great big hole. Now we've got to find a way to get you out of it."

Candidates -- look, I've been a candidate. You don't go out and make a clarification two hours after you supposedly clarified something unless you know yourself you made a big, big boo-boo.

COLMES: But he knew that there were people on the right who already jumping in to try to misstate or use his statement. Let me go back...

HUCKABEE: ...can't blame the people on the right for his misstatements.

COLMES: All right. Let me go back to benchmarks.

HUCKABEE: Those were his statements.

COLMES: On benchmarks, why do you think it is the White House is announcing 15 benchmarks are satisfactory. Not been met, but satisfactory. Three have not been met. But the General Accounting Office has a very different view and questions whether or not they've been met.

There's wide talk about daylight between what the GAO is saying and what our own State Department is saying. Why do you think that is?

HUCKABEE: Well, I think, once again, there's some people who just don't want us to win this war.

COLMES: The General Accounting Office?

HUCKABEE: And the fact that we are winning this war, the surge is working, violence is down, casualties are down -- we had a young man from Arkansas that was killed today. So it's not that casualties are eliminated, and our hearts go out to every single one that we have, but we're not having as many as we were, we're gaining ground there, and we will continue to if we let our military do their jobs.

COLMES: The GAO doesn't want us to win the war?

HUCKABEE: I think that the -- what I know is that the generals on that ground, they know -- they want to win the war, and they are winning the war. That I know.

COLMES: All right, Governor, we thank you for your time tonight. Thanks for being with us.

Watch "Hannity & Colmes" weeknights at 9 p.m. ET!

Copy: Content and Programming Copyright 2008 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2008 Voxant, Inc. (, which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, LLC'S and Voxant, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.