Donald Trump delivered a serious speech on the economy earlier this week, and it could have been a turning point for his campaign. Then all hell broke loose again when he disastrously quipped that the “2nd Amendment people” could stop Hillary Clinton. This drew the attention of the Secret Service, but no matter. Trump distracted everyone by making an outrageous statement about President Obama. In front of a live audience in Sunrise, Florida, the Republican nominee called Obama the “founder of ISIS.” And he was so seemingly serious about this claim that he said it four times and added that Hillary Clinton was the “co-founder.”
Four times wasn’t enough. Trump doubled down on a call with CBS’ Hugh Hewitt and insisted he was being completely literal. He called Obama the MVP of ISIS, but there was some important context in the conversation too, for Hewitt tried to talk Trump off the ledge. As we discussed with Trump’s initial claim, many people (including Bernie Sanders) believe that Obama and Clinton created a political vacuum, which allowed ISIS to flourish in certain countries (such as when overthrowing dictators like Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi). Here’s the relevant portion of the Hewitt transcript where the host argues that Obama and Clinton did not create ISIS, but may have facilitated the vacuum:
HH: I’ve got two more questions. Last night, you said the President was the founder of ISIS. I know what you meant. You meant that he created the vacuum, he lost the peace.
DT: No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS. I do. He was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton.
HH: But he’s not sympathetic to them. He hates them. He’s trying to kill them.
DT: I don’t care. He was the founder. His, the way he got out of Iraq was that that was the founding of ISIS, okay? … Everyone’s liking it. I think they’re liking it. I give him the most valuable player award. And I give it to him, and I give it to, I gave the co-founder to Hillary. I don’t know if you heard that.
HH: I don’t. I think I would say they created, they lost the peace. They created the Libyan vacuum, they created the vacuum into which ISIS came, but they didn’t create ISIS. That’s what I would say.
DT: Well, I disagree.
And then Trump spoke with CNBC’s Scott Wapner and claimed to be “a truth-teller” on the subject. For her part, Clinton dropped a few weary tweets, including “No, Barack Obama is not the founder of ISIS.” Because that’s how ridiculous this election has become.
Well, Trump now wants the world to know he was only kidding. Really! We just don’t understand sarcasm, nor does “ratings challenged @CNN.”
And he added that he enjoys watching the “poor, pathetic people” trying to figure out what he really means when he says that stuff. He loves tricking everyone, which won’t fly one day when he declares war on a country and then — a few days later — calls that declaration sarcastic.
Also, Trump took another shot at the “dishonest media” for reporting his statements (while campaigning for president) and his insistence that he was dead serious.
We shouldn’t be too surprised. After all, Trump pulled the “sarcasm” excuse after encouraging Russian hackers to target Clinton. One thing is certain — Trump’s surrogates are going to have one hell of a media day.
(Via Hugh Hewitt)