Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush tried to clarify and walk back his remarks on the Iraq War less than 24 hours after indicating he would go forward with the invasion today under the same intelligence.
In an interview with conservative radio host Sean Hannity Tuesday, Bush tried to backtrack, telling the host that he “interpreted the question wrong” from FNC’s Megyn Kelly, adding that “knowing what we know now, there were mistakes.”
“On the subject of Iraq, obviously very controversial — knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion?” Kelly asked during the interview, which aired Monday.
“I would have [authorized the invasion], and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody, Bush told Kelly initially. “And so would almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got.”
The potential 2016 candidate told the host that he was “talking about given what people knew then,” rather than in the aftermath of the Iraq War of faulty intelligence. However, Bush did add that he doesn’t know what his 2003 decision would have been, telling Hannity it’s a “hypothetical” question.
SEAN HANNITY: You gave an interview yesterday where the question of Iraq came up, and knowing what you know now, would you go in. And I watched the media interpretation. You said yes, and so would Hillary [Clinton], and I took that to mean based on, you know, if it was the same moment with the same intelligence, would you do it based on that moment. The media seems to be taking it another way, and I wanted to see if you could clarify that today.
JEB BUSH: Yeah, I needed — thank you, because I was, I interpreted the question wrong, I guess. I was talking about given what people knew then, would you have done it rather than knowing what we know now. Knowing what we know now, you know, clearly there were mistakes as it related to faulty intelligence in the lead up to the war and the lack of focus on security. My brother has admitted this, and we have to learn from that.
But the simple fact is that under the last few years of my brother’s presidency, the surge was quite effective to bring stability and security to Iraq, which was missing during the early days of the United States engagement there. And that security has been totally obliterated by the president’s pulling out too early, and now these voids are filled by this barbaric asymmetric threat that endangers the entire region and the entire world. So lessons learned. The United States needs to be engaged. We need to have the best intelligence in the world. We need to make sure that our friends know that we have their back. The best way to create — to lessen the chance of having American boots on the ground is having a foreign policy that is strong and secure and consistent.
HANNITY: So in other words, in 20/20 hindsight, you would make a different decision?
BUSH: Yeah, I don’t know what the decision would have been. That’s a hypothetical. But the simple fact is that mistakes were made as they always are in life. This is not a [inaudible] in foreign policy. We need to learn from the past to make sure that we’re strong and secure going forward.