"The Founder of ISIS"
Trump went on Hugh Hewitt's show:
HH: I’ve got two more questions. Last night, you said the President was the founder of ISIS. I know what you meant. You meant that he created the vacuum, he lost the peace.
DT: 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.
HH: But he’s not sympathetic to them. He hates them. He’s trying to kill them.
DT: 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?
HH: Well, that, you know, I have a saying, Donald Trump, the pneumonic device I use is Every Liberal Really Seems So, So Sad. E is for Egypt, L is for Libya, S is for Syria, R is for Russia reset. They screwed everything up. You don’t get any argument from me. But by using the term founder, they’re hitting with you on this again. Mistake?
DT: No, it’s no mistake. Everyone’s liking it. I think they’re liking it. I give him the most valuable player award. And I give it to him, and I give it to, I gave the co-founder to Hillary. I don’t know if you heard that.
Philip Bump reports at The Washington Post
Trump has made other comments that attempted to link the president to the terrorist group. In June, he implied that Obama was perhaps sympathetic to terrorists, telling an interviewer on Fox News that "we're led by a man that either is not tough, not smart or has something else in mind."
"And the something else in mind — people can't believe it," he continued. "People cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can't even mention the words radical Islamic terrorism. There's something going on."
Polling subsequently showed that there was a segment of the Republican base that agreed with Trump's suggestion that the president might be sympathetic to terrorists. A survey last fall found that 43 percent of Republicans think Obama is Muslim, despite his regularly noting that he isn't. There's a reinforcement back and forth: Trump embraces arguments common among a subset of the conservative right and that subset applauds his candidacy.
Daniel Arkin reports at NBC:
Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and NSA, said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Thursday that Trump could have made a valid point for connecting Obama and ISIS.
"The actions of the Obama administration in withdrawing from Iraq … actually set the conditions for the recovery of al Qaeda in Iraq, which then became ISIS," Hayden said. "So there's a very powerful case to be made."
But Hayden, who co-signed an open letter this week with other foreign policy and security experts saying they won't back the real estate mogul, said Trump's comments were far too inflammatory.
"He inflames the debate, and we don't need the flame, we need cold, rational discussion," Hayden said, adding, "He insults his audience. ... Does he not think that his audience could not accept the slightly more complex, the slight more reasoned message that this president made serious mistakes that led to the creation of ISIS?"