At the Republican debate on Saturday, Donald Trump declared, “I’m the only one on this stage that said: ‘Do not go into Iraq. Do not attack Iraq.’ Nobody else on this stage said that. And I said it loud and strong.” This is—as the man himself might say—a big fat lie.
Politifact was able to find only one instance of the candidate discussing Iraq before the United States invaded on March 19, 2003. Trump appeared on Fox News on January 28, 2003:
Speaking of Iraq, Trump said, “Well, he has either got to do something or not do something, perhaps, because perhaps shouldn’t be doing it yet and perhaps we should be waiting for the United Nations, you know. He’s under a lot of pressure. I think he’s doing a very good job. But, of course, if you look at the polls, a lot of people are getting a little tired. I think the Iraqi situation is a problem. And I think the economy is a much bigger problem as far as the president is concerned.”
Trump seems to be skeptical of the mission in Iraq here, and he said the economy should be a higher priority. But he did not say anything that resembles his claim that Bush should not proceed because a war would “destabilize the Middle East.”
On Sunday morning, Trump went on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where Chuck Todd, citing Politifact, pushed him to clarify when he came out against the war. In turn, Trump delivered what was, even by his lofty standards, a masterclass in blustering, self-contradicting obfuscation.
“Don’t forget, I wasn’t a politician. So people didn’t write everything I said. I was a businessperson. I was, as they say, world-class businessperson. I built a great company, I employed thousands of people. So I’m not a politician,” he said. “But if you look at 2003, there are articles. If you look the 2004, there are articles.”
There are, indeed, articles. Just a few days after the war began, the Washington Post spoke to Trump at a Vanity Fair-hosted Oscars party:
Donald Trump, with Amazonian beauty Melania Knauss at his side, pronounces on the war and the stock market: “If they keep fighting it the way they did today, they’re going to have a real problem.”
Looking as pensive as a “Nightline” talking head, the Donald concludes, “The war’s a mess,” before sweeping off into the crowd.
Later that same week he returned to Fox News to say, “I think the market’s going to go up like a rocket!”
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