During the second Republican presidential debate on Wednesday, Jeb Bush wound up defending his brother’s decision to send American troops into Iraq, saying, “He kept us safe.”
Republican frontrunner Donald Trump needled the former Florida governor on CNN, saying that he opposed the Iraq war from the start. “Your brother and your brother’s administration gave us Barack Obama because it was such a disaster those last three months that Abraham Lincoln couldn’t have been elected,” Trump asserted.
Bush was backed into a corner. “You know what? As it relates to my brother, there is one thing I know for sure, he kept us safe,” he said.
He then went on to talk about Sept. 11, even though it’s clear years later that the decision to go to war in Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks on the World Trade Center. “I don’t know if you remember, Donald. You remember the rubble? You remember the firefighter with his arms around it? He sent a clear signal that the United States would be strong and fight Islamic terrorism and he did keep us safe.”
Bush has oscillated on his brother’s foreign policy record over the course of his campaign. He’s both said he would not have gone into Iraq and also that the war that cost billions was a “good deal.” Many of Jeb Bush’s foreign policy advisers also advised his brother. Today, George W. Bush is one of the country’s least popular ex-presidents.
Trump wasn’t buying it. “I don’t know. You feel safe now? I don’t feel so safe,” he shot back.