WASHINGTON ― Donald Trump got panned recently for praising Saddam Hussein for being good at killing terrorists, but he’s been even more effusive about the slain Iraqi strongman in the past, as well as the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
In an April speech in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, shortly before the primary there, Trump said not only were the pair of tyrants great at killing people, but they also had something else going for them: They were not politically correct.
“You know, Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, right? If you look at Gaddafi, he was a bad guy,” Trump told the crowd at the Pennsylvania Farm Show and Expo Center.
“They had one thing in common, and one thing that they were really, really good at. Number one, they were not politically correct. Do we all agree?” Trump said, before getting back to the killing. “They were great at killing terrorists. They were great.”
He also decided to contrast those “great” dictators with America’s presidents, who were not so great, according to Trump.
“We are not good at killing terrorists. We catch somebody who’s a terrorist and it’s 25 years before their trial starts. They [Saddam and Gaddafi] kill terrorists,” Trump said. “We would have been better off if our presidents went to the beach and never even heard the words Middle East. That’s how bad.”
Not surprisingly, Trump wasn’t entirely accurate.
Gaddafi was long linked to terrorism, perhaps most spectacularly to the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 270 people, including 189 Americans. Hussein also had a long record of aiding terrorists and killing innocent people.
As far as American presidents, it’s a little harder to say how “good” many of them were at killing terrorists. But for President Barack Obama, the record includes the slaying of at least 2,372 terrorist “combatants,” according to a report released on July 1. Not to mention Osama Bin Laden.
Trump’s fascination with murderous foreign leaders certainly hasn’t escaped the notice of Hillary Clinton. Her campaign on Monday released its own take on Trump’s praise for totalitarians, posting a video asking what kind of leader Trump would be if he idolizes Vladimir Putin, Gaddafi and Saddam. Watch it here, and see Trump’s April comments above.