Presidential races

Bush draws criticism from right on Iraq

Likely Republican presidential contender and former Gov. Jeb Bush (Fla.) is attracting heat from conservatives for his recent declaration that he, too, would have invaded Iraq in 2003 if he had been president.

{mosads}Conservative columnist Byron York bashed Bush for a “disastrous defense of the Iraq War” in a column posted Monday afternoon, while conservative radio host Laura Ingraham tweeted criticism of Bush’s statement.

Bush signaled his support for the Iraq strategy taken by his brother, former President George W. Bush, during an interview on Fox News’s “The Kelly File” that aired Monday night. The network released an excerpt of the interview on Sunday.

Host Megyn Kelly asked Bush if he would have authorized the invasion “knowing what we know now,” alluding to the fact that the intelligence claiming Iraq had weapons of mass destruction turned out to be false.

Bush said he would have invaded Iraq, noting that Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton supported the war while in Congress and adding that “everybody” who saw the original intelligence would have done the same. He later called that intelligence “faulty” and admitted it was a mistake not to focus more heavily on securing Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. But he did not address whether the fact that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction would have changed the decision to invade.

York’s column argues that Congress would not have authorized the war with Iraq if members knew that the country didn’t have those weapons. He largely focuses on the wording of Kelly’s question, “knowing what you know now,” to criticize Bush for refusing to learn from the past.

“If Jeb Bush sticks to his position — that he would still authorize war knowing what we know today — it will represent a step backward for the Republican Party,” he writes.

“Jeb’s statement is likely to resonate until he either changes his position or loses the race for the Republican nomination. Should he become the nominee, the issue will dog him into the general election campaign.”

A spokeswoman for Bush’s political action committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tags Iraq Jeb Bush

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