Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Buzz

on Florida Politics

Was the Iraq War a mistake? With George Bush in town, it took Rick Scott 75 words to not answer.

Former President George W. Bush will hold two fundraisers today for Gov. Rick Scott's Senate campaign, including a luncheon in Tampa.

So we asked Scott what he thinks about one of the lasting legacies of Bush's presidency: the Iraq War. Does Scott think it was a mistake?

Scott's response was … well, just read it.

"First off, President Bush is coming. He's been a friend for a long time. I know he worked his tail off as president. One thing this country has got to do, they've got to fight for freedom worldwide. I know it's very important to me that democracy continues to prosper around the world. And I, all of us, wish that there was more peace around the world and I know that's what he tried for."

After eight years dealing mostly with domestic issues, Scott is now running for the Senate, where he will have a role in charting the foreign policy of the U.S. government and military.

Only Congress can declare war and the decision to enter Iraq remains one of the most controversial votes in the recent history of the Senate.

It came up during the last Republican presidential primary, when former  Florida Gov. Jeb Bush waffled on whether he supported his brother's war before finally declaring: "knowing what we know now …I would not have engaged."

"I would not have gone into Iraq," the younger Bush said in 2015.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton faced criticism for voting for the 2002 authorization to use force in Iraq, and Donald Trump's refusal to acknowledge he, too, initially supported the war  was a frequent point of contention throughout the presidential election.

Scott's opponent, Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson, was one of 77 Senators to vote in favor of the Iraq War.

However, by 2007 Nelson said he would have voted differently if he had known there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which was Bush's rationale for the war. By then, the ongoing conflict in Iraq was deeply unpopular among Americans.

The war officially ended in 2011, however, the United States continues to have a military presence in the country, including for fighting the Islamic State.

Nelson and Scott have so far engaged very little on foreign affairs. That could change on Oct. 2, when they meet for their first scheduled debate.

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