New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) had a very different answer than one of his biggest rivals when he was asked about the 2003 invasion of Iraq during a CNN interview on Tuesday.
Unlike former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), Christie was unequivocal and said the invasion was a mistake. Both Christie and Bush are likely presidential candidates in 2016.
“I don’t think you can honestly say that, if we knew then that there was no WMD, that the country should have gone to war. So my answer would be no,” Christie said.
Christie was responding to a question that directly mentioned Bush’s own Iraq war comments in a Fox News interview that aired Sunday. Though there appeared to be some confusion about the wording of the question, Bush said he staunchly stood with his brother, former President George W. Bush, who spearheaded the push to authorise the war.
“Newsflash to the world if they’re trying to find big space between me and my brother: This might not be one of those,” Bush quipped on Fox.
One of the biggest questions surrounding Bush’s prospective campaign is how he will separate himself from his brother and father, who both served as president. George W. Bush remains a particularly controversial figure due to the intelligence failures in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion. Jeb Bush has said he’s his “own man” but he also defended his brother’s Iraq decision.
“I would have [authorised the invasion], and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody. And so would have almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got. In retrospect, the intelligence that everybody saw, that the world saw, not just the United States, was faulty,” Bush said.
In contrast, Christie — who is seen as competing for many of the same business-friendly donors and voters as Bush — offered only limited defence of the decision on CNN.
“I think President Bush made the best decision he could at the time, given that his intelligence community was telling him that there was WMD and that there were other threats right there in Iraq,” he said. “But I want to directly answer your question because that’s what I do. If we knew then what we knew now, and if I were president of the United States, we wouldn’t have gone to war. But we don’t get to replay history.”
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