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Mitch Perry Report for 5.12.15 — Can Jeb Bush take back his response on Iraq?

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Are supporters/apologists for Jeb Bush now claiming Jeb Bush didn’t understand the question when Megyn Kelly asked him about the Iraq war?

“Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion?” The Fox News host asked Bush in a very straightforward way that aired last night on the FNC.

“I would have, and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody,” Bush said, “and so would have almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got.”

Not true.

Twenty-three U.S. senators went on record to oppose the war, including Florida’s then senior U.S. senator, Bob Graham. Graham was the chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, at the time giving him access to the intelligence that Bush refers to. But Graham was very much opposed to the war.

In 2005, he wrote, “From my advantaged position, I had earlier concluded that a war with Iraq would be a distraction from the successful and expeditious completion of our aims in Afghanistan. “After reading a National Intelligence Review written by then CIA Director George Tenet, Graham wrote, “Now I had come to question whether the White House was telling the truth — or even had an interest in knowing the truth.”

But what about Mrs. Clinton? Though for years she had mealymouthed her decision, last year she came clean and acknowledged that it was a mistake.

“I thought I had acted in good faith and made the best decision I could with the information I had,” Clinton wrote last year in her book, Hard Choices. “And I wasn’t alone in getting it wrong. But I still got it wrong. Plain and simple.”

The fact was, Clinton’s support for the Iraq war was a huge and crucial difference between her and Barack Obama, something that catapulted Obama to his victory over her in 2008 in the Democratic Primary race for president.

Critics like MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough have always pooh-poohed Obama’s anti-war stance, saying that because Obama’s opposition came when he was a state senator in Illinois, it was easy for him to have that view. Scarborough has always maintained that Obama would have voted for the war if he was in the Senate as well.

But read David Axelrod’s book, Believer. Obama had major ambitions in 2002 when he made a major speech at an anti-war rally in Chicago, saying that he wasn’t opposed to all wars, only “dumb” ones.” He knew exactly what he was doing at the time, and how it could have redounded on him if the war had been successful.

Back to Jeb. He seems determined not to find fault with much of what his brother, George W., did as president.

But the reasons that Jeb may have trouble convincing the nation to elect him president is because of the unpopularity of some of the decisions his brother made in office, none bigger than going to war in Iraq. Hence that whole issue with his last name.

Seems to me that Bush needs to clean this answer up, or it could be a drag as he moves forward. Or maybe he just thinks that with the Republican primary base so focused on being critical of the international situation right now, acknowledging the wrongness of going to war in Iraq is somehow showing weakness.

In other news. How ’bout them Warriors! My favorite NBA team is alive and kicking this morning, after crushing Memphis in their playoff series last night, 101-84, now evening it at 2-2. The best team in professional basketball this season, pundits were ready to write them off after they faced the most adversity of their dream season after losing two straight to the Grizzlies in their Western Conference semi-final series. They could still lose this series, but they’ve got their groove back. Yay, Steph Curry.

Now to the other news..

Former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean will be delivering the commence speech at Eckerd College this weekend. Kean shared his thoughts on Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Chris Christie in a story we posted yesterday.

The Jewish Community Center Foundation in Tampa is moving into new digs next year, and the future looks promising for the facility and the West Tampa neighborhood that it’s situated in.

The folks pushing the constitutional amendment on solar power are moving closer in one respect to getting the measure on the ballot, but they’ve still got a long way to go when it comes to gathering the thousands of signatures required to reach their goal.

And the folks in the film and TV industries in Florida  are desperate to get a tax incentives package passed in the Legislature this year so they can woo Hollywood productions to come to the Sunshine State. Their last, best hope is the special session beginning next month in Tallahassee.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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