HUCKABEE (on tape): Well, I'm not sure that I support the troop surge if that surge has to come from our guard and reserve troops which have really been overly stretched.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's a pretty clear contradiction.
HUCKABEE: What I said was that the surge I supported but the concern that I had was as the commander in chief of the National Guard?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you didn't say support of the surge. You said I'm not sure that I support the surge.
HUCKABEE: Well, George, I've said many times I supported the surge but remember what I said, specifically guard and reserve troops. As commander in chief of the Arkansas National Guard, we saw 90% of our troops go to Iraq. We saw them go not once but repeated deployments. One of the groups, the 39th Brigade, came back, got back in May and in September had to deploy to the Gulf Coast for Katrina for five months. Now they're being called back. My concern is this, we have a very delicate situation developing with our guard and reserve troops. We have spread them thinner and taken a teaspoon of peanut butter?
STEPHANOPOULOS: And they were needed for the surge.
HUCKABEE?and putting it on a loaf of bread. They were needed for the surge and what we really need to be doing is building up the regular army. Building up the total troop strength in all of our military resources because if we're going to engage in long-term conflicts, you cannot do that with those who really signed up to be citizen soldiers.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But do you retract your statement from last night because according to this evidence, you did not support the surge before Mitt Romney.
HUCKABEE: No, I don't retract because I did support the surge. Separate the surge from the fact that I said that we need to have a different approach when it comes?
STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't know how you can have it both ways on that, governor. The surge did require the guard and reserve troops to be used so you either support it or you don't.
HUCKABEE: And I did support it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But that's not what you said on January 24.
HUCKABEE: Well, what I was speaking to was the specific overuse of guard and reserves over a long period of time, and I do stand by that, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's look at the broader issue because the Associated Press wrote about this yesterday. The headline said, Huckabee's gaffes could undermine straight shooter image. "HUCKABEE GAFFES COULD UNDERMINE STRAIGHT-SHOOTER IMAGE."
STEPHANOPOULOS: And went on to say "Republican Mike Huckabee won the Iowa caucuses by campaigning as an honest conservative, yet he has made a series of blunders that raise questions about his credibility."
STEPHANOPOULOS: They went on to talk about the fact that you say you supported the Writers Guild strike yet went on "Jay Leno." You say you're opposed to gambling, you do a fundraiser in Iowa at a casino.
HUCKABEE: Oh, come on. I can't believe that people are going to say if I go to an event that is?
STEPHANOPOULOS: At a casino when you're opposed to legalized gambling.
HUCKABEE: It was closed for the day at a place called Fun City. I don't know if it was the casino part. That's like saying you can't stay at a hotel that may have a mini bar in the room if you don't drink. I'm not a drinker.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, a lot of people don't do events at hotels if they don't use union labor if they support unions.