"There were more Pakistanis who illegally crossed the border than of any other nationality except for those immediately south of our border, 660 last year," he said. "That's a lot of illegals from Pakistan who came into our country illegally because we don't have secure borders."
In an editorial Saturday, the Washington Post criticized his comment: "The cynicism of this attempt to connect Pakistan's crisis with an anti-immigrant sentiment was compounded by its astonishing senselessness."
Huckabee acknowledged to NBC that the numbers he cited were not precise, but he maintained that his point remains valid.
"We're talking about the potential of a person who can come across this border with a dirty bomb in his suitcase, somebody who can come across our borders who might be bringing a shoulder-fired missile. And if we don't have better control of our borders, it does affect the people in Iowa and the rest of America."
But ignorance of Pakistan's travails may not necessarily prove damaging to a candidate's political aspirations. In 1999, shortly after Musharraf seized power in a bloodless coup, a Boston television reporter asked a U.S. presidential candidate if he could name the general in charge.
"A new Pakistani general has just been elected," the candidate responded, then corrected himself. "He's not elected. This guy took over office. He appears he's going to bring stability to the country, and I think that's good news for the subcontinent."