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Family's war record won't dictate his, Jeb Bush says

via @lesleyclark

Jeb Bush said Wednesday his father and brother’s decisions to declare war in Iraq do not mean he’d seek to avoid -- or to start -- another war.

Asked by radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt in a wide ranging interview whether or not he’d be “overly cautious” to use military force for fear of sparking a “third Bush war,” the former Florida governor said he welcomed the question.

“It wouldn’t,” Bush said, noting if he wins the Republican presidential nomination and the presidency “then I would have a duty to protect the United States. And there are circumstances where a commander-in-chief, the president of the United States has to make tough decisions.”

He said he “wouldn’t be conflicted by any legacy issues of my family,” adding that he’s “quite comfortable being George Bush’s son and George Bush’s brother.

“It’s something that gives me a lot of comfort on a personal level, and it certainly wouldn’t compel me to act one way or the other based on the strategies that we would be implementing and the conditions that our country would be facing,” Bush said.

The interview with the conservative talk show host came as Bush prepares to court conservativeswary of his record at the the annual Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington, a high-stakes appearance that could allow him to start winning their hearts – or underscore a tough road ahead.

In the interview, Bush criticized President Obama for ruling out ground troops in his request for military strikes against the Islamic State terrorists, saying that by “putting all these preconditions, the president has really weakened our hand.”

But he stopped short of calling for ground troops, saying he couldn’t “speculate” about the size of a commitment.

“It may not be necessary,” he said, but he added that Obama is currently building up some military support in Iraq and suggested “it may actually get back to the level that had he kept the 10,000 there, we wouldn’t have had the mess to begin with.”

The bilingual Bush also put in a boost for speaking two languages, saying it was a help politically.

He said he’s looked at “the research” and found the Obama campaign in 2012 “turned Obamacare into a positive in the Hispanic community, and there was no response back. And then Mitt got demonized, and started late because of all the circumstances of having to run a primary, I guess.”

--LESLEY CLARK, McClatchy Washington Bureau

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