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Robert Gates: Jeb Bush shouldn't have been "trapped" by Iraq question

Watch the full interview on "Face the Nation" Sunday

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush should not have found himself "trapped" this week by questions about his stance on the Iraq war.

Bush, a likely 2016 presidential candidate, stumbled this week when asked whether he would have invaded Iraq in 2003, knowing what we know now about the war.

"That's one question where I would have thought he would have had an answer figured out before he got into the middle of this," Gates, who led the Pentagon at the end of the George W. Bush administration and at the beginning of the Obama administration, told CBS News' Bob Schieffer in an interview recorded for "Face the Nation."

"It was an inevitable question that would be asked," he said. "And I think that the way to deal with it, frankly, is to say you don't make policy by going back and reliving old decisions... Trying to go back and relive, or to judge what, if you 'knew then what you know now,' is a silly way to try and make policy. And I think it's best not to get trapped by that question."

By contrast, Gates said, he admired how President George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Obama were all decisive leaders who didn't second-guess their decisions.

"They made a decision, and they moved on," he said. "And I think, you know, the same thing as a candidate. You say what you believe, and then you move on."

Bush was initially confronted with the question on Fox News, in an interview that aired Monday. He said he would have authorized the war but later said he misinterpreted the question. After a couple of attempts to answer the question, Bush finally said on Thursday, "Knowing what we now know, I would not have engaged."