Trump refuses to drop false claim Obama founded IS
Donald Trump repeatedly accused President Barack Obama of founding the Islamic State group yesterday, refusing to take back a patently false allegation even when questioned about the logic of his position.
A day after lobbing the attack against the president during a rowdy rally, Trump pressed ahead during a round of interviews. The Republican presidential nominee brushed off conservative radio commentator Hugh Hewitt's attempt to reframe Trump's observation as one that said Obama's foreign policy created the conditions in Iraq and Syria that allowed IS to thrive.
"No, I meant he's the founder of ISIS. I do," Trump said, using another acronym for the extremist group that has wreaked havoc from the Middle East to European cities.
Hewitt asked Trump if he would acknowledge that Obama hates the Islamic State, noting that the president is "trying to kill them". Over the past two years Obama has organised a broad coalition of countries and launched more than 10,000 US airstrikes to defeat IS.
"I don't care," the billionaire businessman replied. "He was the founder. The way he got out of Iraq that was the founding of ISIS, OK?"
In a later speech to homebuilders in Miami, Trump said his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, would be given "the most valuable player award" by IS. "Her only competition is Barack Obama," he said. He later added of Clinton, "Oh boy, is ISIS hoping for her."
Clinton's campaign accused Trump of "trash-talking" the US while failing to present any serious counter-terrorism plans of his own. Jake Sullivan, Clinton's top policy aide, called Trump's accusation a "false claim" and drew a connection to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Once again, he's echoing the talking points of Putin and our adversaries to attack American leaders and American interests," Sullivan said.
In the interview with Hewitt, Trump did acknowledge the root of his argument was that if Obama "had done things properly, you wouldn't have had ISIS". But he then added, "Therefore, he was the founder if ISIS."
Trump had previously said Clinton founded the militant group, but shifted the blame to Obama on Wednesday during a rally in Florida.
"In many respects, you know, they honour President Obama," Trump said during a raucous campaign rally outside Fort Lauderdale, Florida. "He is the founder of ISIS," he said, repeating the allegation three more times for emphasis.