Former Florida governor Jeb Bush would have authorized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, as his brother and then-president George W. Bush did, he told Fox News' Megyn Kelly in an interview to be aired Monday.
“I would have [authorized the invasion], and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody. And so would almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got,” the likely 2016 presidential contender said.
As a senator from New York, Clinton voted in favor of the invasion — a decision she has since said was wrong.
The mistakes, Bush argued, were in the decisions made in the aftermath: “Once we invaded and took out Saddam Hussein, we didn’t focus on security first.”
He said George W. Bush agrees that this was a blunder, "so just for the news flash to the world, if they’re trying to find places where there’s big space between me and my brother, this might not be one of those.”
The former Florida governor's comments came just days after he told a private gathering that his brother was his most influential adviser of U.S.-Israel policy. “If you want to know who I listen to for advice, it’s him,” Jeb Bush said, according to four people who were present at the session with financiers in New York.
Iraq is tricky territory for the younger Bush. Polls consistently show that a vast majority now believe that the war, which lasted from 2003 to 2011 and cost nearly 4,500 American lives, was not worth it. It remains the most controversial element of George W. Bush's legacy.
Their father, former president George H.W. Bush, also went to war in Iraq, in 1991. But that engagement lasted only months.
In his biggest foreign policy speech to date, an address in February to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Jeb Bush largely avoided the subject of Iraq, mentioning the country only in passing.
He said he had been fortunate to have both a father and brother who had served in the Oval Office,
“I recognize that as a result, my views will often be held up in comparison to theirs,” he said. “But I am my own man.”
Jeb Bush added that his approach to geopolitics would be shaped by “my own thinking and my own experiences.”