Jeb Bush told New Hampshire voters Wednesday that the fall of Ramadi to ISIS underscores that President Barack Obama should not have “abandoned” Iraq by removing U.S. troops from the conflict when he did.
Appearing at a roundtable in Portsmouth, the all-but-formally-announced GOP presidential candidate accused the president of bending to public opinion rather than focusing on maintaining stability in the region.
“That’s what the president did when he abandoned, when he left Iraq,” he said. “And I think it was wrong.”
Referencing the fight for control of the city during the Iraq War, Bush expressed condolences for the families of troops who lost their lives in that conflict.
“They won that battle,” he added. “And it was hard-fought. And that stability now has been lost.”
He added that the 2007 troop surge in Iraq created stability in the region that "the president could have built on" to prevent radical groups from gaining a foothold there.
Bush, who struggled last week to answer questions about whether the invasion of Iraq under his brother’s administration was a mistake, suggested that the president should be asked about how his policies have contributed to the rise of ISIS.
“The focus ought to be on, knowing what you know now, Mr. President, should you have kept 10,000 troops in Iraq?” he said.
During the event, he also acknowledged again that he misheard a question about the war asked by Fox News’ Megyn Kelly last week.
"It got a little bumpy,” he admitted of his efforts to correct his confusing answers on the Iraq question. “But all is well now. The ship is stable."
- Carrie Dann