During the Florida debate for the US Senate on CNN's State of the Union, the two Republicans in the race both carried some water for the Bush administration and agreed that the United States is better off because of our invasion of Iraq. I wonder if the Iraqis think they're better off boys?
SMITH: Mr. Rubio, is -- is America safer and better off for having gone to war in Iraq?
RUBIO: 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. And I think we have to remind ourselves of that, is that the world is a better and safer place because Saddam Hussein no longer is in charge of that country.
Let's understand one thing. Right now, we are worried about Iran possessing a nuclear weapon. Well, if Saddam Hussein was still there, and you know the relationship and the long history between Iraq and Iran, you'd have two nations in a full-blown arms war, the way you've seen, for example, between Pakistan and India.
So the world is a better and safer place, and not to mention the Iraqi people are better off than they were under Saddam Hussein. There's no doubt that Iraq has a long way to go. You know, there are a lot of issues that that society and that that nation-state faces. But it is better off today than it was when Saddam Hussein...
SMITH: Mr. Meek, same question.
MEEK Well, I would tell you this. There was a no-fly zone prior to going into Iraq. It was a war that was brought about based on falsehoods and not on fact. And also, there are a number of American lives that have lost -- have been lost.
Saying that, those sacrifices that have been made, I think it's very, very important to note that the international community must continue to stay involved in Iraq. The biggest embassy in the world, the U.S. embassy, is in Iraq right now because of the Bush doctrine. I think it's important to note that I understand the situation as it relates to the world being safer because we went into Iraq. I couldn't necessarily give you that overall blanket "yes" on that because it was a lot of...
SMITH: You think we'd be better off if we hadn't gone in?
MEEK: Well, I think we would have been better off if we would have looked at diplomatic solutions and wouldn't have been lied to by the Bush administration. I think it's -- I think a number of American lives could have been saved and this could have been a different world if we would have gave diplomacy an opportunity.
CRIST: I think the world is a safer place because of the action we took in Iraq. And I also think it's right of the administration to do what we're doing right now in Afghanistan.
And one of the best things and the best parts of that policy is the appointment of General David Petraeus to lead our troops on the ground in this conflict.
The number one function of our government is to have safety and security for the people of our country, to make sure that we're safe on our shores, that we do what's right to maintain order in our society.
And I think that the administration is on a path to try to do that, and General Petraeus is exactly the right guy to lead us there. So I compliment the commander in chief for doing so.
But we've got to keep our eye on Iran. The speaker is right. I agree that we have to be sure that we're monitoring what's happening there. I am very proud, as governor of Florida, that we signed the first divestment act, as it relates to Iran, divesting any investments in companies that would invest in Iran, because we support Israel so strongly here in this state and this country.
We have a unique, unbreakable bond with the state of Israel, between the state of Florida and our country. It's why my first trade mission was to Israel, as governor of Florida. And I went there with Robert Wexler, whose support I'm proud to have in this race for the U.S. Senate, a great former congressman from South Florida.