A rediscovered 2003 interview of Donald Trump has knocked sideways the Democrats’ media-magnified strategy to hide Hillary Clinton’s support for the 2003 Iraq campaign.
The Democrats’ strategy is to divert attention from Clinton’s support for the war by arguing that Trump backed the Iraq campaign in 2003. They base that claim on a tepid 2002 endorsement by Trump when he was being interviewed on Howard Stern’s radio show. “Yeah, I guess so,” Trump said when asked if he supported the pending campaign.
In sharp contrast to Trump’s comments as a New York real-estate developer, then-New York Sen. Hillary Clinton repeatedly spoke in favor of the campaign, and she cast her vote to authorize and fund the war.
The new tape of Trump’s opposition comes from January 2003, before the operation was launched.
“Well, I’m starting to think that people are much more focused now on the economy,” Trump told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto. “They’re getting a little bit tired of hearing ‘We’re going in, we’re not going in.’ Whatever happened to the days of [Gen.] Douglas MacArthur? Either do it or don’t do it.”
“Perhaps he shouldn’t be doing it yet. And perhaps we should be waiting for the United Nations,” Trump said.
“The Iraqi situation is a problem, and I think the economy is a much bigger problem,” he added.
During the September 26 presidential debate, moderator Lester Holt insisted that it was a proven fact that Donald Trump supported George W. Bush’s war in Iraq before Trump was against it.
Holt insisted that GOP nominee Donald Trump “had supported the war in Iraq before the invasion.”
The real estate mogul adamantly rejected the assertion and re-iterated that he was always against the war. “The record shows that I’m right,” Trump said to Holt. “When I did an interview with Howard Stern, very lightly, first time anyone’s asked me that, I said, very lightly, ‘I don’t know, maybe, who knows?’ Essentially. I then did an interview with Neil Cavuto. We talked about the economy is more important [than going to war].”
Holt, accused of acting as a third debater that night, cut Trump off saying, “The record does not show that.”
Like many on the left goaded by the Clinton campaign’s media shop, Holt was referring to Donald Trump’s interview with radio’s Howard Stern in 2002. When asked during the Stern interview if the U.S. should invade Iraq, Trump replied with a very weak affirmation, “Yeah, I guess so.”
This January focus on the economy is a far more negative characterization of the impending war than his earlier, more noncommittal “yeah, I guess so.”
Despite this record, several so-called fact checkers and other media outlets have continued to claim Trump fully supported the war before he turned against it.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.