WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican Jeb Bush said on Tuesday that “mistakes were made” in the Iraq war, moving to disavow a controversial statement he made in support of the 2003 invasion ordered by his brother, then-President George W. Bush.
The former Florida governor, who is likely to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, had told Fox News in an interview broadcast on Sunday that “I would have” authorized the invasion.
The comment fed a narrative pushed by Democrats that Jeb Bush is little different from his brother, who left office in early 2009 with his popularity weakened by the Iraq war and a faltering U.S. economy.
Jeb Bush on Tuesday went on the talk radio show conducted by conservative Sean Hannity to try to quiet the controversy.
“I don’t know what that decision would have been. That’s a hypothetical,” Bush said when asked by Hannity whether he would have ordered an invasion of Iraq.
George W. Bush made his decision to go to war and assembled an international coalition to help the United States carry it out based on intelligence indicating Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s government possessed weapons of mass destruction.
The intelligence turned out to be wrong, and the decision to go to war remains a topic of hot debate in the United States as Iraq is in turmoil with the rise of Islamic State militants.
“Clearly, there were mistakes [in] faulty intelligence. My brother has admitted this, and we have to learn from that,” Jeb Bush told Hannity.
Bush also said that he had misinterpreted the question that Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly had posed to him in the interview.
Reporting by Emily Stephenson and Steve Holland; Editing by Dan Grebler