In Knock Against Bush, Christie Says 'I Wouldn't Have Gone to War' in Iraq

The New Jersey governor said that hindsight would prevent him from launching the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, listens during a Bloomberg Television interview in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011.

Photographer: Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg

Chris Christie distanced himself from Jeb Bush on Tuesday by saying he wouldn't have gone to war in Iraq given what the country knows now.

"I think President Bush made the best decision he could at the time given that his intelligence community was telling him that there was WMD and that there were other threats right there in Iraq. But, I don't think you can honestly say that if [we] knew the that there was no WMD that the country should have gone to war," New Jersey's Republican governor told host Jake Tapper on CNN's The Lead.

He said the U.S. needs to avoid  "going backwards" and called for a forward-looking foreign policy.

"I want to directly answer your question because that's what I do," Christie said. "If we knew then what we know now and I were the president of the United States I wouldn't have gone to war. But, you don't get to replay history."

For Christie, who is competing for a space in the mainstream wing of his party, the comment was a chance to differentiate himself from Bush. Last week, Jeb Bush appeared to defend the decision by his brother George W. Bush to go to war in Iraq in 2003, before walking back his comments a day later. 

Christie spent Tuesday in New Hampshire, which hosts the first primary election of the selection process. In Manchester, he outlined a five-point economic plan that called for lowering income and corporate taxes, streamlining regulations, crafting a national energy policy, spurring jobs creation and boosting   research.

At a town hall meeting later in Pembroke, he hit President Barack Obama for being the worst executive since Jimmy Carter and said Hillary Clinton needs to answer more questions on the Benghazi attack.

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