Support among Republicans for the continued U.S. presence in Iraq is rapidly eroding, but one GOP candidate for president held out the possibility Monday that even more troops may be needed to keep the lid on things.
“We have to make a decision,” said former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, during an exclusive interview on TODAY. “Do we either pull them out, or do put whatever is necessary to make sure we don’t leave an even bigger mess than we started with.”
“More troops?” host Matt Lauer asked.
“It’s possible,” said Huckabee, who is not among the front-runners for his party’s nomination.
“I think the real answer is putting more pressure on the people of the region,” he said. “We need some more help from the Saudis, the Kuwaitis, the Jordanians, the Turks. We should be going this alone. This is their neighborhood, not ours ... If it all goes south, they’re going to get scorched before we do.”
Huckabee’s comment that more troops may be needed goes against the majority of polls and the latest tendency of others in his party. The New York Times reported Monday that aides to President Bush are becoming increasingly alarmed about dissension in the Republican ranks.
Some presidential advisors are wondering aloud whether Bush should indicate a willingness to begin troop withdrawals before field commanders issue an assessment in September on the effectiveness of the so-called “troop surge” that started six months ago this week to target insurgents.
Huckabee, 51, was governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007. Although he is trailing in the polls, Huckabee noted that the election is 18 months off and he is confident he will close the gap on other Republican candidates.
“This is a marathon, not a sprint,” he said.