Trump Refuses To Back Away From Claim Obama Founded ISIS

Aug 11, 2016
Originally published on August 11, 2016 6:46 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Donald Trump is in Florida today where once again he is making unbelievable claims. Sam Sanders has been with the Trump campaign for the last couple days and joins us now. Hi, Sam.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: Hey, Ari.

SHAPIRO: So the Republican nominee said at a rally last night that President Obama was, quote, "the founder of ISIS." Obvious fact check here - President Obama did not found ISIS. Then today Trump went on the radio show of Hugh Hewitt, a sympathetic conservative, who tried to interpret the candidate's comments about Obama and Hillary Clinton for him.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO SHOW, "THE HUGH HEWITT SHOW")

HUGH HEWITT: I think I would say they created - they lost the peace. They created the Libyan vacuum. They created the vacuum into which ISIS came, but they didn't create ISIS. That's what I would say. But...

DONALD TRUMP: Well, I disagree.

HEWITT: All right, that's OK.

TRUMP: I mean with his bad policies - that's why ISIS came about.

HEWITT: That's...

TRUMP: If he would have done things properly, you wouldn't have had ISIS.

HEWITT: That's true.

TRUMP: Therefore he was the founder of ISIS.

SHAPIRO: OK, Sam, with that as a backdrop, how did Donald Trump handle this at the rally today?

SANDERS: Well, he doubled down. When he spoke this morning at the National Association of Homebuilders, he pretty much said the same thing, although a bit quieter. We have the tape here.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: Our government has unleashed ISIS. I call President Obama and Hillary Clinton the founders of ISIS. They're the founders.

SANDERS: And then he said that Hillary Clinton is, quote, "the MVP of ISIS" and that Obama is a close runner-up for that title. Keep in mind this is in a speech about the economy and the housing market, so if he's saying that here, we could expect to hear that for a while wherever he goes.

SHAPIRO: Yeah, what did he say about the economy following up on the big economic speech that Trump delivered earlier this week?

SANDERS: Yeah, you know, so this speech is sort of a prebuttal to Hillary Clinton's speech tonight on the economy. And Trump said a few things that he's been saying for a while. He wants massive cuts in regulations. He wants an executive order forcing a moratorium on new regulations from federal agencies. Trump wants to abolish the so-called death tax, and he wants to make the tax code much simpler and make it where there's only three tax brackets.

SHAPIRO: You know, Sam, there seems to be a sense right now that the Trump campaign is kind of going off the rails. This was captured in the cover of the latest issue of Time magazine that shows Trump's face kind of dripping with the headline "Meltdown." When you attend these rallies with Trump supporters, what is the sense there?

SANDERS: It's the opposite sense. I mean the thing that I've noticed this week is that the mood and the takeaway from Trump's speeches is different when you're in the room as opposed to watching Trump on TV.

I actually was in the room this week when Trump made his comment on the Second Amendment which some said call for violence against Hillary Clinton. And in the room at that moment, it wasn't a thing. Some folks laughed it off. Some folks don't even really hear it. Lots of folks ignored it. But it wasn't something that caught people's ears. But outside of the room, as soon as folks saw it and heard it, it was a problem.

You know, Trump feeds off the crowd and no matter the venue or the speech, and he almost always riffs off the crowd to go off script. And those things lead to these comments we hear. It makes him a hit there in the room, and it draws big crowds, but it possibly hurts him outside of the room.

I talked to one Trump supporter last night, Linda Carousella (ph) in Fort Lauderdale, and she said that she sees the conflict in Trump's comments.

LINDA CAROUSELLA: I think that he could soften some things up a little bit. Sometimes he says things in the wrong way, and it gets critiqued the wrong way. But that's not his style. He beat 16 people being who he is.

SANDERS: So she knows the style might not be helpful to him all the time, but she and other Trump supporters like it.

SHAPIRO: I want to end by asking you about the candidate's tax returns. A source close to Hillary Clinton tells NPR that she will release her 2015 returns in the coming days. She's already released previous years. Where does that leave Trump?

SANDERS: So Trump has said over and over again that he will not release his taxes because he's under audit. But now he's saying that Hillary Clinton needs to release some 30,000 emails that she deleted during her time as secretary of state.

SHAPIRO: NPR's Sam Sanders on the campaign trail with Donald Trump, thanks as always.

SANDERS: Thank you, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.