Jeb Bush said Tuesday he misunderstood the question when he told Fox News he would have authorized the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 based on "faulty" intelligence.
"I interpreted the question wrong, I guess," Bush told conservative talk-radio host Sean Hannity on Tuesday afternoon, a day after the Fox interview aired. "I was talking about, given what people knew then, would you have done it, rather than knowing what we know now."
Bush faced with criticism over his answer to Fox's Megyn Kelly since the network posted a clip online Sunday. Bush allies -- and Kelly herself -- suggested Bush misheard the question, and he used the Hannity appearance to try to clarify his answer.
But when Hannity asked him Kelly's question again -- "So in 20/20 hindsight, you would make a different decision?" -- Bush wouldn't say.
"I don't know what that decision would have been, that's a hypothetical," Bush said. "But the simple fact is mistakes were made, as they always are in life, in life, in foreign policy."
Perhaps Bush, a known policy wonk unafraid to give his opinions on a wide range of issues in frequent interviews, was being candid instead of delivering a prepared talking point. But an "I don't know" response 12 years after the Iraq invasion that so plagued his brother's presidency may do little to quell critics eager to pounce on the Republican presidential field's presumed fund-raising front-runner.
"He's joking, right?" Democratic National Committee Communications Director Mo Elleithee said in a statement. "Yesterday the answer was yes, and now he doesn't know? Leave it to Jeb Bush to make George W. Bush look ready for primetime."