Marco Rubio: Iraq War wouldn't have happened with accurate WMD intel

Presidential candidate and Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio speaks to the audience as moderator Charlie Rose listens May 13, 2015 at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.


Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, one of the more hawkish 2016 presidential candidates, said on Wednesday that he would not have authorized the 2003 invasion of Iraq if the U.S. had known there were no weapons of mass destruction there.

"Not only would I not have been in favor of it, President Bush would not have been in favor it," Rubio said to CBS This Morning anchor Charlie Rose at an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations.

"President Bush has said he regrets that the intelligence was faulty," Rubio continued. "I don't think Congress would've voted for authorization" had they known there were no weapons of mass destruction.

Rubio noted the history that led up to the 2003 vote, including Saddam Hussein's disputes with international inspectors searching for weapons, as well as Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

"Ultimately, though, I do not believe that if the intelligence had said Iraq does not have a weapon of mass destruction capability, I don't believe President Bush would've authorized to move forward."

Former President George W. Bush did indeed write in his memoir "Decision Points" that "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."

Even so, Mr. Bush told CBS News' Bob Schieffer in November of last year that he had no regrets about the invasion.

"I think it was the right decision," Mr. Bush said. "My regret is that -- a violent group of people have risen up again."

Rubio, meanwhile, said as recently as March that he didn't think it was a mistake to go to war with Iraq. "The world is a better place because Saddam Hussein is not in Iraq," he told Fox News.

Rubio added that "at the end of the Iraq war, Iraq had an opportunity to have a stable, peaceful future. The U.S. pulled out... [and] that allowed ISIS to come back in."

Those remarks from March align with the position former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, another GOP presidential candidate, has tried to stake out this week.

After initially fumbling over the Iraq War question, Bush on Tuesday "mistakes were made" over the course of the war. However, he laid the blame on both the initial invasion and the way President Obama handled the war when he took office.