Gov. Christie on Tuesday said if he were president in 2003 and knew that Iraq didn't have weapons of mass destruction, he would not have gone to war.
"Now I think President Bush made the best decision he could at the time," given the information the intelligence community had provided to the president, Christie told CNN's Jake Tapper in an interview.
"But I don't think you can honestly say that if we knew then that there was no WMD, that the country should've gone to war," Christie said.
His remarks came after George W. Bush's brother Jeb, who like Christie is considering running for president in 2016, said Monday on Fox News that he would have authorized the invasion, based on the intelligence available at the time.
On Tuesday, Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, said he had misinterpreted the question and clarified that he doesn't know whether he would have invaded Iraq given the benefit of hindsight.
He told conservative radio host Sean Hannity that the question was a "hypothetical."
Christie, in the interview with CNN, didn't dwell on the Iraq debate.
"We need a forward-looking foreign policy," he said, "that talks about how to reassert American authority and influence around the world."
One lesson Christie said he learned from the war, he said, was that "there is almost nothing more valuable to a strong national defense than a strong, empowered intelligence community."
He said President Obama had weakened the intelligence community and suggested some candidates running for president wanted to exacerbate that damage – a reference to U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.), who is campaigning against the bulk collection of data by the National Security Agency.
"I'm not one of those people," Christie said, adding he'd address the topic at greater length next week.
Christie also addressed criticism from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee with regard to Christie's plan to overhaul Social Security. Christie said the alternative to his plan – which would eliminate benefits for those making $200,000 in retirement income, among other provisions -- was either bankruptcy or "massive" tax increases. "I'd like to know which one of those Gov. Huckabee and folks like him are for," Christie told CNN.
Christie delivered a speech in New Hampshire Tuesday unveiling a plan to improve economic growth. Tapper asked Christie how the governor could credibly lead the national economy, given New Jersey's relatively high unemployment and slow recovery from the recession.
"We inherited a wrecked ship," Christie said, "and we've now made it seaworthy."