Mark Halperin has heard the various answers from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on the Iraq War and he is none too satisfied.
During Wednesday’s broadcast of “With All Due Respect,” Halperin let loose on Bush for his answers over the past three days, saying the potential 2016 candidate is “looking horrible” and “needs better answers” to these questions.
The issues for Bush started Monday when he told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly that he would have authorized the Iraqi invasion despite (as Kelly told him) “knowing what we know now.”
Bush went on to try to clarify his answer Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday, he admitted to Sean Hannity Tuesday that “mistakes were made,” though refused to answer the “hypothetical” question of whether he would go into Iraq if the information available now had been around in 2003. He also said Wednesday that the questions on Iraq are a “disservice” to the troops.
JOHN HEILEMANN: Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, John Kasich and a little bit Marco Rubio today all basically said, ‘No, I think if we knew now — if we knew back then what we knew now, no Iraq War. Wouldn’t have been for it, wouldn’t have proposed it, wouldn’t have done it.’ Why is this guy, Jeb Bush, having such a hard time coming down on the same place as all of his Republican rivals?
MARK HALPERIN: He is looking horrible, and his supporters are getting a little bit freaked out about what’s going on. I think it’s two things. I think it’s 1) it’s psychological. He just doesn’t want to be in the psychodrama of seeming to repudiate his brother. And 2) I think it is practical. He does not want to get into this topic because then there will be lots of questions about do you agree with your brother or not on specific things.
HEILEMANN: Look. On one reading of the question, and there are various ways you could read this question — but on one reading of the question, which is literally if you knew back then that there was no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, would you have invaded, the answer should have been obviously, no. Maybe Dick Cheney would say yes still, but not very many people would say yes to that because that was the pretext for the war. This should not be hard for him.
HALPERIN: It shouldn’t be, although again, there is a fuzziness to the questions to other people and to him. But he needs to get a decisive answer to this. And the fact he gave and the answer he gave to Hannity yesterday, and the answer he gave today, anyone outside his campaign would tell you these are bad answers. He needs better answers.
HEILEMANN: Two things: he said I’m my own man. There’s going to be daylight between me and my brother, this is a topic on which this should be true. And second, this is the single most anticipated question of the whole Jeb Bush campaign. He has to have a clear answer. He doesn’t have a yet.
HALPERIN: Let’s wait for part four to see if he can get an answer that works.