Gates: Iraq question was 'inevitable' for Jeb

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates says that Jeb Bush should have expected questions about the 2003 Iraq War as he appears to hover on the brink of declaring his presidential candidacy.

“That’s one question where I would have thought he would have had an answer figured out before he got into the middle of this,” Gates told host Bob Schieffer in an interview that will air Sunday morning on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”


“It was an inevitable question that would be asked,” he said.

“And I think that the way to deal with it, frankly, is to say you don’t make policy by going back and reliving old decisions…Trying to go back and relive, or to judge what, if you ‘knew then what you know now,’ is a silly way to try and make policy,” Gates said.

“And I think it’s best not to get trapped by that question,” he added.

Bush, a Republican and the former governor of Florida, has struggled all week with questions about the decision made by his brother, then-President George W. Bush, to send U.S. forces into Iraq in 2003.

Gates argued during his interview with Schieffer that he admired presidents  such as George W. Bush and Barack Obama who do not doubt their own decision-making.

“They made a decision, and they moved on,” he said.

“And I think, you know, the same thing as a candidate,” Gates added. “You say what you believe, and then you move on.”

Jeb Bush admitted on Thursday that in hindsight he would not have invaded Iraq like his brother did.

“If we are all supposed to answer hypothetical questions, ‘Knowing what we know now, what would you have done?’…I would not have engaged, I would not have gone into Iraq,” he said.

Those remarks reversed his position on the issue from earlier in the week.

He initially said he would have repeated his brother’s decision, during an interview first aired on Monday.

“I would have [authorized the invasion], and so would have Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats battle for Hollywood's cash The House Judiciary Committee's fundamental choice Sanders, Omar to hit campaign trail in New Hampshire MORE, just to remind everyone,” Bush told Fox News host Megyn Kelly in an interview.

“And so would almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got,” he added.

Bush may have been alluding to Clinton’s vote as a senator to authorize the use of force in Iraq. She also avoided apologizing for that vote during her unsuccessful run for the presidency in 2008. But she wrote earlier this year in her second memoir, Hard Choices, that she “got it wrong. Plain and simple.”

Clinton announced her own candidacy last month and is the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.