- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 11, 2016

Donald Trump doubled down Thursday morning, saying President Obama was “absolutely” the founder of the Islamic State terrorist group and Hillary Clinton was a co-founder.

“He was the founder of ISIS, absolutely,” Mr. Trump said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” reiterating a line he had delivered at a rally in Florida Wednesday evening. “The way he removed our troops - [we] shouldn’t have gone in.”

He repeated his stated contention that the war in Iraq was a mistake.

“But he was the founder, absolutely the founder,” Mr. Trump said. “In sports, they have awards. He gets the Most Valuable Player award - him and Hillary. I mean, she gets it too.”

“I gave them co-founder, if you really looked at the speech. I think you probably did,” he said.

Indeed, Mr. Trump had said at the Wednesday rally: “He is the founder of ISIS. He’s the founder of ISIS, OK? He’s the founder. He founded ISIS. And I would say the co-founder would be crooked Hillary Clinton.”

SEE ALSO: Donald Trump: Obama ‘the founder of ISIS’; Hillary Clinton co-founder

“But he and Hillary get the Most Valuable Player award having to do with Iraq and having to do with the ISIS situation, or as he would call it, ISIL,” Mr. Trump said Thursday.

“He calls it ISIL because nobody else does and probably wants to bother people by using a different term,” he said. “And whether it’s more accurate or not, most people call it ISIS - he calls it ISIL.”

“He was the founder of ISIS and so was she,” he said. “I mean, I call them co-founders.”

“He shouldn’t have gotten out the way he got out,” Mr. Trump said. “It was a disaster what he did.”

“Is there something wrong with saying that? Why, are people complaining that I said he was the founder of ISIS?” Mr. Trump asked.

Radio host Hugh Hewitt suggested to Mr. Trump in a separate interview Thursday that he had been speaking in an indirect way, but Mr. Trump rebuffed the thought.

“I know what you meant - you meant that he created the vacuum; he lost the peace,” Mr. Hewitt said.

“No, I meant that he’s the founder of ISIS - I do,” Mr. Trump said.

“It’s no mistake - everyone’s liking it,” Mr. Trump said. “I think they’re liking it. I give him the Most Valuable Player award…and I gave a co-founder to Hillary.”

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign said Mr. Trump is echoing talking points from Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. adversaries.

“This is another example of Donald Trump trash-talking the United States,” said Clinton campaign senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan. “It goes without saying that this is a false claim from a presidential candidate with an aversion to the truth and an unprecedented lack of knowledge.

Mr. Trump said on CNBC that he’s a truth-teller, and that if he keeps going and loses the election things will still work out okay for him.

“I go back to a very good way of life,” he said. “It’s not what I’m looking to do. I think we’re going to have a victory. But we’ll see.”

Asked how he closes recent polling gaps in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Mr. Trump said: “Just keep doing the same thing I’m doing right now.”

“And at the end it’s either going to work or I’m going to, you know - I’m going to have a very, very nice, long vacation,” he said.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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