GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump stated that he misspoke when he said the war in Afghanistan was a mistake and that he took differing positions on accepting Syrian refugees within a day of each other because “the number had increased significantly” and further stated, “you have to show a degree of flexibility” but that he has “a very strong core” at Thursday’s Republican presidential debate.
After being played a clip of him saying, on October 6, 2015 that getting involved in Afghanistan was a mistake, and then two weeks later, denying he said so, then another of him saying that “you have to” accept migrants from the Middle East and Africa, and then saying he opposed allowing refugees the next day, and another saying that George W. Bush knew there were no WMDs in Iraq on February 13, 2016, but then saying he didn’t know if Bush lied or not six days later. Trump said that “Well, on Afghanistan, I did mean Iraq. I think you have to stay in Afghanistan for a while, because of the fact that you’re right next to Pakistan, which has nuclear weapons, and we have to protect that. Nuclear weapons changed the game. And I was always against going into Iraq.” He added that the clip showed him saying he corrected himself for saying Afghanistan when he meant Iraq.
Moderator Megyn Kelly then stated, “[W]ithin one day, you reversed yourself on Syrian refugees.”
Trump responded, “You’re right. Let me explain. First time the question had been put to me, it was very early on. The migration had just started. And I had heard that the number was a very, very small number. By the second day, two or three days later, I heard the number was going to be thousands and thousands of people. You know, when they originally heard about it, they were talking about bringing very, very small numbers in, and I said, begrudgingly, well, I guess maybe that’s okay. It was not like, let’s bring them in. Because i think we should build a safe zone…when I first heard the question, first time the question was ever asked to me, first time I really had known about the question, the migration had just started. I was very much, like, okay, by the time I went back and studied it, and they were talking about bringing thousands and thousands, I changed my tune. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.”
When asked about concerns of those were wondering what Trump’s core was, he stated, “I have a very strong core. But I’ve never seen a successful person who wasn’t flexible, who didn’t have a certain degree of flexibility. You have to have a certain degree of flexibility. You can’t, for instance, let’s say on the second question, you can’t say, ‘It’s okay,’ and then you find out it’s not okay, and you don’t want to do anything. you have to be flexible, because you learn. Before I knew — the question was asked by Bill, and the next day, or a couple of days later — the question was asked by, you know — I was asked by a number of people, actually. I was asked by Sean, but I was asked by a number of people, but by that time, the number had increased significantly.”
After Kelly pointed out that the two questions were one day apart. Trump stated, “The next day. But I had learned. I mean, nobody ever asked me the question. This was brand new. But, and — I really mean it, you have to show a degree of flexibility. If you’re going to be one way and you think it’s wrong, does that mean the rest of your life you have to go in the wrong direction, because you don’t want to change?”
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