Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) got testy Sunday when pressed about his different statements on the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
In the past three months, Rubio has offered varied responses to the question: Was it a mistake to invade Iraq? He has moved from his inital position of a flat “no” in March, to his answer in May, when he said he wouldn’t have been in favour it.
On “Fox News Sunday,” the Republican presidential candidate insisted he has not flip-flopped on the issue.
“It was not a mistake,” Rubio told the show’s host, Chris Wallace, signalling his annoyance at being asked to judge history in hindsight. “Based on what we know now, a lot of things — based on what we know now, I wouldn’t have, you know, thought Manny Pacquiao was going to beat [Floyd Mayweather] in that fight a couple of weeks ago.”
Rubio claimed he was asked two distinct questions about his judgement from different vantage points. He said one asked for him to weigh in on the 2003 invasion based on what was known at the time. And Rubio said the other question looked back retrospectively, knowing the faulty nature of the intelligence used to justify the war.
“The question was whether it was a mistake. And my answer was it’s not a mistake. …It was not a mistake given the fact that what the president knew at the time,” Rubio said during his Sunday interview.
Rubio, a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations member who has touted his foreign policy chops as a key part of his presidential platform, conceded that in the years following the 2003 invasion, the US intelligence claiming Iraq had weapons of mass destruction “was wrong”
“My answer was — well, if at the time it would have been apparent that the intelligence was wrong, I don’t think George Bush would have moved forward on the invasion,” he said, cautioning that presidents have to make decisions in the present. “Presidents don’t have the benefit of hindsight. You have to make difficult decisions based on the information that’s before you at that moment.”
Rubio’s comments on Sunday came after he was confronted with questions on the invasion on two earlier occasions. In March, Rubio appeared on Fox News’ “The Five” show and responded “no,” when he was asked if the invasion was a mistake.
“The world is a better place because Saddam Hussein doesn’t run Iraq,” he said then.
But the question reemerged last week when former former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) repeatedly struggled to answer hypothetical questions about whether the Iraq war was a mistake in hindsight. Bush, a likely 2016 presidential candidate, initially refused to answer the question but eventually relented and said he wouldn’t have authorised the invasion if he knew the intelligence was bad.
So on May 13, during remarks in New York City at the Council on Foreign Relations, Rubio was asked about the invasion and responded: “Not only would I not have been in favour of it. President Bush would have have been in favour of it. And he’s said so.”
“President Bush has said that he regrets that the intelligence was faulty,” he added.
Rubio didn’t respond to Business Insider’s repeated questions at the event asking if he had changed his position on the war.
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