Jeb Bush on Wednesday acknowledged that the administration of his brother, former President George W. Bush, made mistakes before and during the Iraq War.
“There were mistakes made in Iraq for sure,” Bush said in a question and answer session after his Thursday speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
Still, he called the surge in Iraq “one of the most heroic acts” of any president and argued that President Obama failed to build on it. He said Obama “created the void” whereby non-state sponsored terror groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have been allowed to flourish in the region.
Bush said Friday that he will not “re-litigate” controversial decisions made by his brother.
In his speech, Bush also said that he'd be his "own man," a response to critics who have sought to tie him to the controversial policies of his brother and father.
"I have been fortunate to have a father and a brother who both have shaped America’s foreign policy from the Oval Office," Bush said. "I recognize that as a result, my views will often be held up in comparison to theirs — sometimes in contrast to theirs.
“I love my father and my brother," he continued. "I admire their service to the nation and the difficult decisions they had to make. But I am my own man — and my views are shaped by my own thinking and own experiences."
Bush added that "each president learns from those who came before — their principles and their adjustments. One thing we know is this: Every president inherits a changing world and changing circumstances."
Democrats are already linking Bush to his older brother on foreign policy.
Democratic National Committee communications director Mo Elleithee pushed out a memo on Wednesday arguing that Bush is standing by his brother’s decision to invade Iraq.
“No American has forgotten when Jeb’s brother, George W. Bush, led us into the Iraq War based on bad information, and pursued this entanglement even as it took important resources away from the hunt for al Qaeda in Afghanistan,” Elleithee wrote. “And now, more than a decade after the start of the war — even with the benefit of hindsight — Jeb Bush is one of the few people left who still stands by the decision to rush into Iraq.
“That’s the problem with Jeb Bush,” Elleithee continued. “Most Americans believe that if we knew then what we know now, it would have been a mistake to invade Iraq. Jeb Bush, despite what we know now, thinks the only mistake was getting out.”
This post was updated at 3:37 p.m.