WASHINGTON - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate, advocated a "coalition of the willing" on Sunday to help fight Islamic State in Iraq, borrowing a phrase from George W. Bush's unpopular war.
"Well, listen, you know, we've got to put together a coalition of the willing, which has been used before ... and used successfully in that region," he said.
In 2003, former President Bush used the phrase to refer to countries that supported the US-led invasion of Iraq. Bush faced ridicule from critics who noted the list did not include powerful allies like France and Germany. Few of the 48 countries on the list contributed troops to the invasion force.
It was not the first time a likely 2016 Republican candidate had trouble hitting the right note on Iraq. Bush's brother, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, stumbled repeatedly after being asked if he would have supported the 2003 invasion knowing that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Christie, who did not confirm if he would announce a candidacy, said the United States does not need to send more troops to Iraq at this time and should concentrate on bringing its allies into the fight.
The Obama administration coalition partners in the fight against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq include regional Sunni Muslim allies Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Jordan.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, another Republican presidential candidate, is pressing for 10,000 United States troops to fight Islamic State. Christie said he didn't believe more troops on the ground would help at this point, but said "you can never rule anything out."