Charles Sykes/NBC(FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.) — Jeb Bush seems to have a talking point to explain why he hesitated so long to say, in hindsight, that the Iraq war was a mistake: He won’t “go out of [his] way” to disagree with his brother.

Bush said those words both at a press gaggle after the town hall where he finally gave his Iraq answer and in a speech to the RNC’s spring meeting in Flagstaff, Arizona, Thursday night.

He also said he has a hard time disagreeing with his family in public.

“There’s a lot of people out there [in the room] from the press, and there’s a lot of interest in finding the ways that we’re different and all this,” Bush said. “But I’m not going to go out of my way to say that, you know, my brother did this wrong or my dad did this wrong. It’s just not gonna happen. I have a hard time with that. I love my family a lot.”

Earlier on Thursday, Bush had seemingly concluded a nearly week-long drama over whether he would have invaded Iraq if he had been president in 2003, given what is now known: that history did not bear out the intelligence purporting Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, one of the main points President George W. Bush cited in making a case to Congress and the U.S. public for supporting an invasion in 2003.

Earlier in the day, speaking to reporters after a town-hall-style meeting at a brewery in Tempe, Arizona, Bush also said he would not “go out of my way” to disagree with his brother.

“I am loyal to him,” Bush said.

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Photo by Kevin Dietsch – Pool/Getty Images(CAMP DAVID, Md.) — President Obama stopped short of saying the Persian Gulf nations he hosted at Camp David support negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, but indicated that they understood it was in their own interest.

His comments came at the end of a marathon day of meetings with representatives from six Gulf countries that are skeptical of a deal that could make Iran a more powerful regional player that might be more capable of challenging the Sunni Gulf nations.

“I’m pleased that here at Camp David, we agree that a comprehensive, verifiable solution that fully addresses the regional and international concerns about Iran’s nuclear program is in the security interests of the international community, including our GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] partners,” he said.

Most of the nations present at Thursday’s summit, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, are embroiled in their own disputes with Iran, including a proxy war playing out in Yemen that pits neighboring Saudi Arabia against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels who have taken over the country.

The administration stressed that the summit was convened to discuss the broad strokes of a U.S.-Gulf security relationship going forward, but the key issue on all parties’ minds was the Iran talks — and White House officials briefed the Gulf representatives on negotiations during a morning meeting.

The president said the U.S. pledged to defend its Gulf allies in the event of “external threats” to their territorial integrity, although his remarks fell short of a formal mutual defense treaty that some Gulf nations had expressed a desire for prior to the meeting.

“The United States stands ready to work with our GCC partners to urgently determine what actions may be appropriate, using the means at our collective disposal, including the potential use of military force for the defense of our GCC partners,” Obama said.

Earlier in the day, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir also praised the day’s discussions, telling reporters the summit was “unprecedented” and that he hoped it would lead to Gulf states taking their relationship with the U.S. “to an entirely different level going forward over the next decades.”

The president also commented on several domestic issues during a news conference after the day’s meetings, praising the Senate for passing a bill to give him “fast track” authority to negotiate a trade deal without interim input from Congress.

He also rejected the idea that he was in a personal feud with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., over their disagreements on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. As he did so, he paused for dramatic effect and chuckled before saying the senator’s name — likely an indirect reference to the fact that Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, had called Obama “disrespectful” for referring to Warren by her first name.

“The issue with respect to myself and…Elizabeth…has never been personal,” he said.

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Photo by Kevin Dietsch – Pool/Getty Images(CAMP DAVID, Md.) — President Obama expressed his condolences for the victims of Tuesday’s Amtrak crash in Philadelphia — but not until after the leader of a foreign nation did so first.

The president’s statement came at the beginning of a news conference that capped off a day of meetings with representatives from six Gulf states on the Iran nuclear negotiations and related regional issues at the Camp David presidential retreat outside of Washington.

“I offer my prayers for those who grieve,” Obama said. “A speedy recovery for the many who were injured as they work to recover. And we will cooperate, obviously, at every level of government to make sure that we get answers in terms of precisely what happened.”

He also made a call for maintaining a commitment to spending on infrastructure improvements around the country, given congressional negotiations on transportation funding happening back in Washington.

While the president issued a written statement on Tuesday after the crash, he passed up two prior opportunities to comment on it on camera — first during a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office with a Saudi delegation Wednesday, then during a joint statement with the Qatari emir — before he finally did so.

Earlier Thursday, the emir of Qatar, Tamim Al Thani, offered his condolences during a joint statement he made with Obama.

“I wanted to say something important…on behalf of all Gulf countries,” he said. “We want to send our deepest condolences to the president and the American people on the tragic train accident in Philadelphia.”

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Image Source Pink/Image Source/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The House approved bipartisan legislation on Thursday that will empower Congress with the opportunity to review any final international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program before the president could potentially waive or suspend sanctions imposed by Congress on Iran.

By a vote of 400-25, the House overwhelmingly passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which now heads to the White House for the president’s signature.

Nineteen Republicans and six Democrats opposed the measure.

President Obama has signaled he will sign the bill.

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ABC/Donna Svennevik(WASHINGTON) — Over the course of the last few days, likely Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush has showcased an evolving position on whether he would have authorized the invasion of Iraq in 2003 “knowing what we know now” about faulty intelligence at the time.

But, as it turns out, it is also a question that has vexed one of his possible rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

Asked on Wednesday whether he would have supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003 had he known the country did not possess weapons of mass destruction, Rubio added his voice to the chorus of Republican presidential hopefuls who have said “no” this week.

“Not only would I not have been in favor of it, President Bush would not have been in favor of it — and he said so,” Rubio told Charlie Rose after a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

“I don’t think the Congress would have voted in favor of the authorization” had they not relied on faulty intelligence, he added.

But Rubio’s comments this week appear to differ from his assertions on Fox News’ The Five in March.

When asked a somewhat different question, whether it was “a mistake to go to war in Iraq,” Rubio responded, “No, I don’t believe it was.”

“The world is a better place because Saddam Hussein doesn’t run Iraq,” he said. “We don’t know what the world would look like if Saddam Hussein was still there. But I doubt it would look better…it would be worse, or just as bad for different reasons.”

His response this March was very similar to what Rubio said during a Florida U.S. Senate debate in October 2010.

Asked by the moderators whether America was “safer and better off for having gone to war in Iraq,” Rubio answered: “I think the answer ultimately is yes. First of all, the world is better off because Saddam Hussein is no longer in charge in Iraq.”

Rubio’s allies argue that the senator’s comments don’t actually contradict one another. Condemning the war’s justifications and appreciating its outcomes are not mutually exclusive, they say.

Meanwhile, Bush — who has not yet declared his candidacy but is expected to do so in the near future — has answered the question five different ways in just four days.

When asked in an interview that aired on Monday by Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, “Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion” of Iraq in 2003, Bush initially responded: “I would have and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody, and so would almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got.”

Subsequently, Bush said he misheard the initial question. And at a town hall meeting in Arizona on Thursday, he came full circle.

“If we’re all supposed to answer hypotheticals,” Bush said, “I would not, have engaged, I would not have gone into Iraq.”

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William Thomas Cain/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — In the space of just four days, likely Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush has come full circle on whether he would have made the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 as his brother, then President George W. Bush, did.

“If we’re all supposed to answer hypotheticals,” Bush said at a town hall meeting in Tempe, Arizona, today. “I would not, have engaged, I would not have gone into Iraq.”

Bush said he was “reluctant to say what I’m about to say now” because as governor of Florida he contacted families to offer condolences when their children died in Iraq. “It’s very hard for me to say that their lives were lost in vain, and they weren’t.”

It all started with a question posed by Fox News‘ Megyn Kelly in an interview that aired on Monday: “Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion” of Iraq in 2003?

“I would have and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody, and so would almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got,” Bush said.

But over the last few days he has sought to refine that answer.

In an interview on The Sean Hannity Show on Tuesday he acknowledged: “I interpreted the question wrong, I guess” and added “I don’t know what that decision would have been. That’s a hypothetical.”

And Wednesday, at a town hall meeting in Nevada, he said this: “The problem with hypotheticals is two-fold. One, when I was governor I got to — I felt it a duty, I didn’t have to — to call all the family members of people who lost their lives and I don’t remember the total number but it was easily over 100. And I felt it a duty to do that because I admired the sacrifice of their families. And I admired the men and women — mostly men — that made the ultimate sacrifice. So, going back in time and talking about hypotheticals — what would have happened what could have happened, I think, does a disservice for them.”

But speaking to reporters after the event he hinted at the position he took today: “Of course, given the power of looking back and having that — of course anybody would have made different decisions. There’s no denying that.”

Many of Bush’s potential GOP rivals, including Sens. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, Gov. Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina, have also answered the same question in recent days, and so far, all have said they would not have made the decision to invade if they had known about the fault intelligence.

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William Thomas Cain/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — In the space of just four days, likely Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush has come full circle on whether he would have made the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 as his brother, then President George W. Bush, did.

“If we’re all supposed to answer hypotheticals,” Bush said at a town hall meeting in Tempe, Arizona, today. “I would not, have engaged, I would not have gone into Iraq.”

Bush said he was “reluctant to say what I’m about to say now” because as governor of Florida he contacted families to offer condolences when their children died in Iraq. “It’s very hard for me to say that their lives were lost in vain, and they weren’t.”

It all started with a question posed by Fox News‘ Megyn Kelly in an interview that aired on Monday: “Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion” of Iraq in 2003?

“I would have and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody, and so would almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got,” Bush said.

But over the last few days he has sought to refine that answer.

In an interview on The Sean Hannity Show on Tuesday he acknowledged: “I interpreted the question wrong, I guess” and added “I don’t know what that decision would have been. That’s a hypothetical.”

And Wednesday, at a town hall meeting in Nevada, he said this: “The problem with hypotheticals is two-fold. One, when I was governor I got to — I felt it a duty, I didn’t have to — to call all the family members of people who lost their lives and I don’t remember the total number but it was easily over 100. And I felt it a duty to do that because I admired the sacrifice of their families. And I admired the men and women — mostly men — that made the ultimate sacrifice. So, going back in time and talking about hypotheticals — what would have happened what could have happened, I think, does a disservice for them.”

But speaking to reporters after the event he hinted at the position he took today: “Of course, given the power of looking back and having that — of course anybody would have made different decisions. There’s no denying that.”

Many of Bush’s potential GOP rivals, including Sens. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, Gov. Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina, have also answered the same question in recent days, and so far, all have said they would not have made the decision to invade if they had known about the fault intelligence.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Senate passed two pieces of trade-related legislation Thursday as part of a deal to move forward with a measure providing President Obama the fast-track authority to strike a trade deal with Asia.

The first piece of legislation, which passed with a vote of 78 to 20, deals with customs enforcement and prevents foreign countries from manipulating currency. The Senate then approved the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which will allow sub-Saharan countries to sell their goods in the United States duty-free, with a vote of 97 to 1.

The House of Representatives has not committed to voting on either of these measures yet.

“We’ve had this discussion about currency between countries and continents for the 25 years that I’ve been here. And to think that Congress can legislate what currency valuations are between countries is almost laughable,” House Speaker John Boehner said on Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allowed votes on the two measures as part of an agreement to hold another vote on the fast-track authority for trade deals. Earlier in the week, Senate Democrats handed Obama a resounding defeat by voting against moving forward with the fast-track trade bill.

The Senate will hold its first test vote on the fast-track bill later Thursday afternoon and the amendment process will begin next week. Final passage on the fast-track authority won’t occur until late next week.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Senate passed two pieces of trade-related legislation Thursday as part of a deal to move forward with a measure providing President Obama the fast-track authority to strike a trade deal with Asia.

The first piece of legislation, which passed with a vote of 78 to 20, deals with customs enforcement and prevents foreign countries from manipulating currency. The Senate then approved the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which will allow sub-Saharan countries to sell their goods in the United States duty-free, with a vote of 97 to 1.

The House of Representatives has not committed to voting on either of these measures yet.

“We’ve had this discussion about currency between countries and continents for the 25 years that I’ve been here. And to think that Congress can legislate what currency valuations are between countries is almost laughable,” House Speaker John Boehner said on Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allowed votes on the two measures as part of an agreement to hold another vote on the fast-track authority for trade deals. Earlier in the week, Senate Democrats handed Obama a resounding defeat by voting against moving forward with the fast-track trade bill.

The Senate will hold its first test vote on the fast-track bill later Thursday afternoon and the amendment process will begin next week. Final passage on the fast-track authority won’t occur until late next week.

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — House Speaker John Boehner erupted into incredulity Thursday when a reporter attempted to ask him about federal spending for Amtrak.

When Ginger Gibson, senior political writer at the International Business Times, attempted to ask Boehner about criticism from Democrats that Amtrak was not funded well enough, Boehner cut her off.

“Are you really going to ask such a stupid question?!” Boehner, R-Ohio, exclaimed in apparent disbelief.

“Listen, you know they started this yesterday. ‘It’s all about funding. It’s all about funding,’” he whined, mocking complaints by congressional Democrats. “Well, obviously it’s not about funding. The train was going twice the speed limit!”

Boehner further contended that funding for Amtrak is “adequate” and added that “no money has been cut from rail safety.”

“It’s hard for me to imagine that people take the bait on some of the nonsense that gets spewed around here,” he said, abruptly ending his news conference.

On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee passed a bill to reduce grants to Amtrak in fiscal year 2016 by more than $250 million below spending levels for FY 2015. Proponents of the measure say the cuts are made not to Federal Railroad Administration operating costs or safety but rather “entirely” to Amtrak capital — such as infrastructure improvements.

Moments before Boehner’s news conference, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi began her own news conference by calling Tuesday night’s derailment outside Philadelphia “a constant reminder that we must strengthen the confidence and safety in our infrastructure.”

“In order to have safety in infrastructure, you have to have strong infrastructure,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said, knocking Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee for blocking Democratic efforts to bolster funding for Amtrak to meet levels requested by the president in his budget request.

“Now we are wiser about the need and the urgency and hopefully we can be bipartisan in how we come together,” she added.

Pelosi would not say whether $1.3 billion appropriated for Amtrak that she helped usher through Congress in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is explicitly insufficient, but contended “Republicans have been very much against Amtrak for a long time.”

“I think that obviously these needs are big,” Pelosi said. “This is about our economy. It’s about our safety. It’s about quality of life, clean air. It’s so important for us to do.”

The full House and Senate must now consider the bill before current funding runs out at the end of September.

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