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Marco Rubio: I wouldn't have gone into Iraq knowing it didn't have WMDs

@PatriciaMazzei

Marco Rubio said after a foreign-policy speech Wednesday that, knowing that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, he would have been against the U.S. invasion launched by President George W. Bush in 2003.

"Not only would I not have been in favor of it -- President Bush would not have been in favor of it," Rubio told CBS This Morning anchor Charlie Rose in a question-and-answer session following Rubio's remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Rubio, a 2016 Republican presidential contender who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has fielded Iraq questions in the past -- and has sounded more supportive about the invasion, or at least about its consequences, than he did Wednesday.

In March, Rubio was asked on Fox News: "Was it a mistake to go to war to Iraq?" That question made no mention of weapons of mass destruction.

"I don't believe it was," Rubio said at the time. "The world is a better place because Saddam Hussein doesn't run Iraq."

In 2010, when he was running for Senate, Rubio was asked, "Is America safer and better off for having gone to war in Iraq?" 

"I think the answer ultimately is yes," Rubio said. "First of all, the world is better off because Saddam Hussein is no longer in charge in Iraq. And I think we have to remind ourselves of that, is that the world is a better and safer place because Saddam Hussein no longer is in charge of that country."

The Iraq question has bedeviled Rubio's Florida rival, former Gov. Jeb Bush, who tripped up over the weekend when Fox News asked him if he would have authorized the invasion given the "faulty" intelligence exposed after the fact. He said yes but then walked back his answer to say "I don't know."

Rubio's spokesman characterized the senator's answers as consistent: In March, he answered about the decision made in 2003, without the benefit of hindsight. On Wednesday, he answered about what the decision would have been in hindsight.

As for what former President Bush thinks, in hindsight, he wrote in his book Decision Points: "While the world was undoubtedly safer with Saddam gone, the reality was that I sent American troops into combat based on intelligence that proved false. That was a massive blow to our credibility -- my credibility -- that would shake the confidence of the American people."

Watch the full speech and Q & A below, with the Iraq question around the 44-minute mark.

 

This post has been updated.

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