At a campaign rally on August 10 in Florida, Trump said the following:
“In many respects, you know, they honor President Obama,” Mr. Trump told a raucous and rowdy crowd in Florida on Wednesday night. “He’s the founder of ISIS. He’s the founder of ISIS. He’s the founder. He founded ISIS.” He added, “I would say the co-founder would be crooked Hillary Clinton.” During an extended riff on the crisis in Crimea, Mr. Trump added extra emphasis on the president’s full name, saying that it occurred “during the administration of Barack Hussein Obama.”
This was reminiscent of his statements after the Orlando massacre, in which he said: “He doesn’t get it, or he gets it better than anybody understands,” and his involvement in the “Birther” controversy in 2008-2011.
Hillary Clinton responded via Tweet, saying “No, Barack Obama is not the founder of ISIS,” before Tweeting “Anyone willing to sink so low, so often should never be allowed to serve as our Commander-in-Chief.”
On Thursday, Trump doubled down in an appearance on the Hugh Hewitt radio show, saying: “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.” When Hewitt retorted that “But he’s not sympathetic to them. He hates them. He’s trying to kill them,” Trump responded that “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” and that he “disagrees” with the characterization that Obama and Clinton’s foreign policy had “created the Libyan vacuum, they created the vacuum into which ISIS came, but they didn’t create ISIS.”
For the full transcript of his appearance on Hugh Hewitt, click here.
Many Democrats condemned the comments, and their statements are below:
“Donald Trump should apologize. … This is yet another out-of-control statement by a candidate who is unraveling before our very eyes,” DNC spokesman Mark Paustenbach said in a statement on Thursday. “Combating terrorist threats like ISIS is a deadly serious undertaking, one that must be met with the unwavering resolve and steady temperament of a commander-in-chief that doesn’t fly off the handle at the slightest provocation. Donald Trump has once again shown that he lacks that temperament, and that he is simply unfit to hold our nation’s highest office.”
“[It] is so bizarre,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. “It’s reminiscent of demagogues who want to be in the press no matter what they have to say. They make their verbal poo-poo anyplace to get attention.”
Former CIA Director Michael Hayden, who recently signed a letter calling Trump a danger to national security, said that: “No. 1, he inflames the debate, and we don’t need the flame. We need cold, rational discussion. No. 2, he insults his audience. He goes to these code words to make a fairly valid point. Why does he do that? Does he not think that his audience could not accept the slightly more complex, slightly more reasoned message that this president made serious mistakes that led to the creation of ISIS? Why does he put it this way?”
The New York Times wrote an editorial on August 11 that said: “When Mr. Trump fans racist rage against the president, suggests that gun owners take up arms against Mrs. Clinton, or speaks darkly of a “rigged” election, he is not trying to woo Republican skeptics, independents or undecided voters. He is appealing to the mob…Right now Mr. Trump is losing, and this very likely terrifies him. Maybe he doesn’t know how to control himself, or comprehend why he should. Or he is simply satisfying his boundless need for attention. But his behavior this week raises a more disturbing scenario. Perhaps he has given up on winning through civil means and does not care about the consequences of his campaign of incitement.”
On August 12, Trump tweeted that the remarks were meant to be sarcastic.