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MSNBC Post-Debate Interview - Transcript


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MR. MATTHEWS: Governor Mike Huckabee, sir, same question to you that was put by Tim Russert to Governor Romney. What do you think of it, if you have to run to against Bill and Hillary Clinton?

MR. HUCKABEE: You know Chris, the advantage that I have is that I'm the only one who has ever faced the Clinton political machine and ran against it every time I was in an election in Arkansas and actually defeated four times. So unlike the other candidates who would be flying into their first headwind against the Clinton machine, I understand what we would be up against and I can tell you, it's a formidable force.

These folks like to win. I have a great respect for them. We even have a cordial relationship, but don't kid yourself. I would be rock 'em, sock 'em kind of election process to be sure.

MR. MATTHEWS: Do they compete within the rules? Do they break the rules? Do they just play hardball or would you say they play a rougher brand of politics? Watching them campaign now against Barack Obama, how would rate their performance looking ahead to the general?

MR. HUCKABEE: Well, I would just say, it's going to be full contact sport. And, I've always said about politics in Arkansas, if you can not stand the sight of your own blood, best thing to do is buy a ticket and watch this from the stands, because this going to be, you know, a fairly tumultuous affair, to say the least.

MR. MATTHEWS: You raised a rather cloying point, I think, with regard to WMD in Iraq. You said, we didn't find it; that doesn't mean it wasn't there, like just because you don't find all the Easter eggs. Well, do you believe that there's WMD in Iraq that hasn't been found that would have justified the war, had we discovered it?

MR. HUCKABEE: I think it's more likely that the weapons of mass destruction that we know that he at one time had - he used weapons against the Kurds. Good chance they may have gone to Jordan. We don't know where they are.

But the point is, there was every reason to believe that they were there at the time. And it wasn't just the president or the Republicans who believed that and who acted upon it. It was the Democrats, as well. I think for now, people to say, well, we didn't find them. No, we didn't, but the other side of that: we're there. Let's not make a situation worse by pulling out and leaving Iraq in a very unstable and having it erupt throughout the Middle East and giving al Qaeda a base, and really betraying the trust that many of the Iraqi people have put in use because they have believed that we would not abandon them and leave them to the slaughter that they would likely be subject to.

MR. MATTHEWS: You know, King Abdullah has great pride in having one of the crack intelligence services in the whole Middle East and they're totally allied with the United States government. Do you really believe that he allowed the WMD of Saddam Hussein to come into his country?

MR. HUCKABEE: No, I don't think he would have allowed it. I don't think it was something he would have been a participant in. Jordan is a good friend and it's an ally that we treasure and cherish and want to maintain, but I'm just saying we don't know if there were weapons of mass destruction that may have been moved or where they have been moved. That really is, in my mind, Chris, not the point. We can second guess what was done. We have to try to make sure that we finish the job that we went into Iraq to do and leave them with some level of stability and self-governance.

One thing we have done well is the tactical operation, quite frankly. The real point where we have not done well is the strategic objective: seeing a government that actually is functional. And that's going to be our greatest challenge, not the tactical operations that General Petraeus has so effectively done, but the strategic issues of exactly what it is we're going to achieve and how are we going to achieve in terms of political stability.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thanks you very much, Governor Mike Huckabee. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

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