Is Jeb Bush standing by his brother's Iraq War decision?

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Image copyright Getty Images

Being the brother of a former president with a controversial war on his record is proving to be a tricky position for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

On Monday the prospective Republican presidential candidate raised some eyebrows when he responded "yes" to a question about whether he would have approved the 2003 invasion of Iraq "knowing what we know now". Is Jeb standing by Bush's Iraq War decision?

It took less than 24 hours for his political supporters to begin walking back that statement, however, after he was subjected to withering criticism from the left and the right.

Ana Navarro, an adviser to Mr Bush who served on his staff when he was governor, said she emailed Mr Bush on Tuesday about the remark, and he told her that he didn't hear Fox host Megyn Kelly correctly.

"I think when you hear the entirety of his answer, and he talks about the faulty information, it's hard not to conclude that he misheard the question," she said on CNN. "Instead of hearing 'if we knew what we knew now', he must have heard 'if we knew what we knew then'."

The latter version of the question is a fairly common one for candidates of all political stripes, and - for the most part - it results in a dispassionate discussion of faulty intelligence, missed opportunities and unintended consequences not too different from the way Mr Bush answered.

Very few politicians these days would answer "knowing what we know now" with a solid affirmative, however. Then again, only one politician on the national stage today has the surname Bush.

Syndicated radio show host Laura Ingraham, a long-time conservative critic of Jeb Bush, said after Monday's remarks that "you can't still think that going into Iraq, now, as a sane human being, was the right thing to do".

She added that comments like that show that Mr Bush is ill qualified to be the Republican nominee.

"You have to have someone who says, look, I'm a Republican but I'm not an idiot. I'm not stupid," she said. "I learn from the past, and I improve myself."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption George W Bush's presidency casts a shadow on Jeb Bush's impending campaign

Another conservative commentator, the Washington Examiner's Byron York, writes that the Iraq issue isn't going to go away for Jeb Bush - especially if he continues mishandling what should be easy questions

"Jeb's statement is likely to resonate until he either changes his position or loses the race for the Republican nomination," he writes. "Should he become the nominee, the issue will dog him into the general election campaign."

Meanwhile the Democratic National Committee wasted no time taking advantage of the opening Mr Bush's remarks created. It launched a YouTube video tying the two Bush brothers together, and spokeswoman Kristin Sosanie quipped: "Apparently hindsight isn't 20/20 for Jeb Bush. Even knowing how badly we were misled, he would still have done it all again."

Jeb Bush's remarks come less than a week after he reportedly told a private audience in New York City that George W Bush was one of his primary advisers on Middle East policy.

Mr Bush's staff have said since that his comments were about Israel policy specifically, not the Middle East in general. Some members of the audience at the event disagree, however.

Being a Bush brings with it a number of distinct advantages when running for the Republican presidential nomination - such as money, name recognition, a set of influential connections within the party and a seaside compound in Maine in which to relax for a few days.

This week's events highlight that the pedigreed surname has some very particular challenges, as well.

Republican candidates in - and out - of the race

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