Bush gave a foreign policy address Tuesday night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, during which he went after President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton for pulling out of Iraq.
“So eager to be the history-makers, they failed to be the peacemakers,” Bush said. “Rushing away from danger can be every bit as unwise as rushing into danger, and the costs have been grievous.”
Asked about the speech on Laura Ingraham’s radio show Wednesday, Bush’s Republican primary opponent Christie said the strategy of bringing up the Iraq War is “absolutely not” the right way to grow the party.
“It’s bad decision-making by Governor Bush, but I’m not running his campaign,” Christie said. “This should’ve been handled by Governor Bush the same way it’s been handled by any of the other candidates who understand how to do this, which is to say, ‘Listen, if we knew then what we knew now, we wouldn’t have gone into Iraq.'”
The bombastic governor said instead, Republicans should be talking about current concerns like ISIS and the Iran nuclear deal as well as domestic issues like jobs.
But Allie Brandenburger, a spokeswoman for Bush, said Wednesday that the former Florida governor “is the only candidate in the field who has outlined a specific, forward-looking plan for defeating radical Islamic terrorism.
“Other candidates, including Hillary Clinton, as confirmed by her campaign, have not put forward any specific prescriptions for addressing the grave threat of ISIS,” Brandenburger said.
Questions about the Iraq War have plagued Bush since the early days of his campaign, with his brother, former President George W. Bush, responsible for leading America into it.
In May, Jeb Bush flubbed a question about whether he would have gone into Iraq, taking days to clarify that he would not have. His opponents seized on the trip-up, using it as an opportunity to score points by coming out against the hugely unpopular war.
He was asked about the issue again in last week’s GOP debate, with Fox News host Megyn Kelly referencing his floundering response previously. His answer was panned as convoluted, and Donald Trump a few questions later answered an unrelated question by saying he opposed the war back in 2004.
Bush has been largely out-performing Christie in the polls, but the two governors are seen as appealing to similar, moderate Republican voters.