Huckabee Bumbles Three Times In One Sentence, Compounds His Cluelessness On The Iran NIE

On Tuesday night, when former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) was asked what he thought of the new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, he said that he had neither “been briefed” on nor “heard of the finding” that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003.

Not much has changed apparently. On MSNBC’s Morning Joe this morning, Huckabee tried to dismiss criticism of his “ignorance of the news of the day” with a joke, but only managed to compound his cluelessness:

SHUSTER: But it gets to the idea that being governor of Arkansas is not necessarily best sort of foreign policy experience and that something that I think a lot of your critics are aiming at your direction. How do you respond to them?

HUCKABEE: Well, I don’t blame my staff. It is a situation where a report was released at 10:00 in the morning, the president hadn’t seen it in four years and I’m supposed to see it four hours later.

Huckabee then called it “a gotcha question” at a dinner full of reporters. Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/12/HuckabeeNIEDodge.320.240.flv]

In his attempt at a humor-driven dismissal, Huckabee revealed he still doesn’t know much about the NIE.

1) The NIE was released the previous day, not that morning. The NIE was released to the public in the early afternoon on Monday, December 3rd. The dinner where Huckabee was asked about the NIE took place on the evening of Tuesday, Decemeber 4th.

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2) Huckabee had more than “four hours.” According to the timeline above, Huckabee could have learned about the NIE anytime overnight or during the course of the next day if he had picked up a newspaper. Hotline notes, on the same day Huckabee said he hadn’t heard of it, the Iran NIE “not only dominated the Democrats’ debate here in town but also prompted a presidential press conference in response.”

3) Bush couldn’t have seen the report “four years” ago. The NIE was initially completed only a year ago, thus Bush couldn’t have had “four years” to see the report. While the intelligence community did eventually learn that Iran shut down its nuclear program four years ago, that knowledge didn’t come to the intelligence community until this past summer.

So, in one sentence, a confused Huckabee managed to compound his cluelessness over the NIE and confirmed once again his “ignorance of the news of the day.”

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Transcript:

SHUSTER: From my years in Arkansas when I saw him. We didn’t talk much about foreign policy when you were first governor, I don’t think we talked about it at all. This week I think there was an exam of that a lot of us in the media glommed on to and that was apparently you didn’t know about the National Intelligence Estimate story. Your staff took responsibility, saying they should have briefed you.

But it gets to the idea that being governor of Arkansas is not necessarily best sort of foreign policy experience and that something that I think a lot of your critics are aiming at your direction. How do you respond to them?

HUCKABEE: Well, I don’t blame my staff. It is a situation where a report was released at 10:00 in the morning, the president hadn’t seen it in four years and I’m supposed to see it four hours later.

There were 16 different agencies involved in accumulating the NIE report. Many of those agencies had classified documents. Nobody’s seen, I guess except the president all of the classified information. There was a section of the report that was declassified. I was in a wall to wall, nonstop campaign because guys like you were trailing me with cameras and microphones all day on the trail.

We sat down to dinner and it was a gottcha question. OK, have you seen the report that was released this morning? And I wanted to say no because you guys have been with me all day, you know what I have been doing.

SCARBOROUGH: And let me say this, for people that haven’t run a campaign before, and I was only ran a little campaign every couple of years running for Congress. But a gubernatorial campaign or a senate campaign. You go nonstop. And a lot of times, you wake up the next morning, you are like oh my God, that happened.

I agree with you Governor, in the fact, the second I saw the story, total gotcha story.

Let’s move on.