Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) on Tuesday took a swing at President Obama and Hillary Clinton, arguing that by withdrawing troops from Iraq in 2009, Obama and his administration allowed the Islamic State to gain power.
“That premature withdrawal was the fatal error, creating the void that ISIS moved in to fill — and that Iran has exploited to the full as well,” Bush said during a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., according to the New York Times.
He then blasted Clinton for letting the situation deteriorate in Iraq while she served as secretary of state.
“Where was the secretary of state in all of this? In all her record-setting travels, she stopped by Iraq exactly once,” Bush said, according to the Huffington Post. “Who can seriously argue that America and our friends are safer today than in 2009, when the President and Secretary Clinton — the storied ‘team of rivals’ — took office? So eager to be the history-makers, they failed to be the peacemakers.”
Bush stopped short of calling for more American boots on the ground in Iraq, but advocated for an aggressive approach to Iraq and ISIL.
“We do not need, and our friends do not ask for, a major commitment of American combat forces,” he said, according to the New York Times. “But we do need to convey that we are serious, that we are determined to help local forces take back their country.”
Bush’s comments come a few months after he struggled to answer whether he would have authorized the Iraq invasion, knowing what he knows now. After initially saying he would have gone into Iraq, he backtracked and said he would not have authorized the invasion.