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Rubio Elaborates On Iraq: Bush "Absolutely" Made Right Call Based On Intelligence

"And so it was not a mistake in the sense that the president made the right decision based on what he believed and had reason to believe at that time."

Last updated on July 3, 2018, at 1:15 p.m. ET

Posted on May 15, 2015, at 10:04 a.m. ET

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Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said Thursday that President George W. Bush made the right decision to go to war in Iraq based on the intelligence at the time, adding that "the world is a better place cause Saddam Hussein is not around."

Rubio was elaborating on an answer he gave to Charlie Rose Wednesday in which he said he would not have made that decision based on what is known today, mainly that Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction.

"Well there's two separate questions involved in that," Rubio told Concord News Radio Thursday. "The first is what I was asked yesterday by Charlie Rose, 'if you knew there weren't weapons of mass destruction would you have gone forward?' And the truth is not one would have."

The presidential hopeful said the United States would still have had to deal with Saddam Hussein but "obviously would have done so differently."

"We would still have had to deal with Saddam Hussein but obviously would have done so differently. Um, but presidents don't get that luxury. The president has to act on what he is told at the time and all of the leading intelligence agencies and foreign intelligence agencies were telling President Bush at the time that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. And they had a long history of producing them of gassing their own people."

Rubio said the Iraq War decision was "not a mistake" in the sense that President Bush made the right call based on the intelligence provided to him.

"And so it was not a mistake in the sense that the president made the right decision based on what he believed and had reason to believe at that time. So two separate issues, presidents don't have the benefit of hindsight and the fact of the matter is the world is a better place cause Saddam Hussein is not around."

Rubio added you "absolutely" would have had to take out Saddam Hussein if you thought he possessed weapons of mass destruction.

"Absolutely, if you believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. That they could have passed on to terrorists. That they could have used to massacre their people and start a regional arms race. You absolutely have to do that. The presidents not an intelligence officer they have to rely on the information provided to them."

Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations Wednesday, Marco Rubio said he wouldn’t have been in favor of the Iraq War knowing what we know today:

View this video on YouTube

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“Not only would I not have been in favor of it, President Bush would not have been in favor of it,” said Rubio.

Rubio had previously told Fox News in March going to war in Iraq wasn't a mistake.

ROGINSKY: "Was it a mistake to go to war to Iraq?

RUBIO: No, I don't believe it was. The world is a better place because Saddam Hussein does not in Iraq. Here's what I think might have happened, had we not gone in . And you might had an arms race to put Iraq in Iran, they are both would purse the weapon. I will be dealing with two problems, not just one. We forget that Iraq, at the time of the invasion, was in open defiance of numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions. That the United Nations refused to enforce. They were, they were, they were refused to comply with allowing inspectors in. Repeatedly, this was a country whose leader had gassed his own people on numerous occasions. So I think, hindsight is always 20/20, but we don't know what the world would look like if Saddam Hussein were still there. But I doubt it would look better in terms of — it will be worst — or we are just bad for different reasons. I think it's very difficult to predict, I think — a better notion is, at the end of the Iraq war, Iraq had an opportunity to have a stable, peaceful future. The U.S. pulled out, completely abandoning it to Maliki, who then proceeded to move forward on these very aggressive strategies against the Sunni. Creating the intellectual and — environment, that allowed ISIS to come back in and take advantage of what's happening.

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