-- Granting 20/20 hindsight and everything we now know about faulty intelligence, Jeb Bush said today he's not sure whether he would have ordered an invasion of Iraq if he had been president at the time.
“I don’t know what that decision would have been. That’s a hypothetical,” Bush told radio host Sean Hannity, noting that “mistakes were made” and “we need to learn from the past.”
Bush spent the early part of this week getting pummeled by critics for how he handled the same question in a previous interview.
In a sit-down conversation with Fox host Megyn Kelly, the full version of which aired Monday night, Bush was asked the same question -- whether in hindsight, knowing what we now know, he would have launched the second Gulf War if he, not his brother George W. Bush, had been president.
But Bush seemed to answer a different question: Whether he would have done what his brother did, presented with the same information at the time.
"I would've," Bush told Kelly. "And so would Hillary Clinton. ... So would've everybody who was confronted by the intelligence they got."
That set off a round of criticism, heard most sharply from Bush critic Laura Ingraham, who said "there has to be something wrong with "anyone who thinks the invasion was a good idea in hindsight," and from conservative columnist Byron York, who predicted Bush would have to re-think his response.
A day after that interview aired in full, Bush corrected himself.
“I interpreted the question wrong I guess. I was talking about, given what people knew then would you have done it,” he told Hannity.
Twelve years after the invasion of Iraq, the former Florida governor is considering a run for the office once held by his brother George W. Bush, the architect of that war. Their family relationship has only fueled questions for Jeb Bush on foreign policy and how he might or might not differ from his brother in that area.
While Bush wouldn't address the question about hindsight, in both interviews he criticized how the war was handled and noted that the George W. Bush administration's intelligence, used to make the case that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, was not proven correct.
"Clearly there were mistakes as it related to faulty intelligence and the lead up to the war and the lack of focus on security," Bush told Hannity.
Conservatives, including George W. Bush himself, have wrestled with the consequences of that deeply unpopular war, and at least one of Bush's potential rivals in the 2016 presidential election clearly sided against the invasion, in retrospect.
"I want to directly answer," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is also considering a White House bid, told CNN's Jake Tapper. "If we knew then what we know now, and I was president of the U.S., we wouldn’t have gone to war."