Asked at a news conference here Friday about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and how he would have handled them differently, Bush said, "I won't talk about the past. I'll talk about the future."
"If I'm in the process of considering the possibility of running, it's not about re-litigating anything in the past," Bush continued. "It's about trying to create a set of principles and ideas that will help us move forward."
One question hanging over Bush's likely candidacy for the 2016 Republican nomination has been how he might grapple with the unpopular wars initiated last decade by his older brother, former President George W. Bush.
Republicans believe that national security — an issue that traditionally plays to their advantage — will be a high priority for voters in 2016.
However, the shadows of Iraq and Afghanistan hang over the Bush family legacy. In a 2013 Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted around the 10th anniversary of the launch of the second Iraq war, 58 percent of respondents said it had not been worth the fight; 56 percent said the same about the conflict in Afghanistan, another war begun on the watch of George W. Bush.
Jeb Bush may have more to say about Iraq and Afghanistan when he addresses the Chicago Council on Global Affairs next Wednesday, but he made clear here Friday that he would focus on future challenges, such as combating the Islamic State.
“We have some big, hairy, complicated things we need to fix and one of those is what the role of America is in the world to protect our safety and security, but also to promote security and peace around the world, and I think we can be a force for good,” Bush said.
Bush’s comments came during a media availability at the Celebration for Reading, an annual event hosted by the Barbara Bush Foundation to promote literacy. He appeared here with his sister, Doro Bush Koch, and bestselling authors Markus Zusak, Christopher Buckley and Robin Cook.
Karen Tumulty contributed to this report.