President Trump said Thursday night that he was “ready to go” with military action against Iran this week in retaliation for Tehran’s missile attacks, but backed off when he learned there were no U.S. casualties.
“I said how many died? ‘Sir, none.’ So we didn’t do anything,” Mr. Trump said at a campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio. “We were ready. Not that I wanted to, but we were ready. You have no idea. A lot of people got very lucky.”
Mr. Trump ridiculed Democrats’ effort to limit his war powers, saying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her troops want to interfere with his “split-second” military decisions so they can leak the plans to the media. The president slammed House Democrats for approving a non-binding resolution earlier in the day to limit his ability to take military action.
“These are split-second decisions,” Mr. Trump said of ordering the air strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani last week. “They [Democrats] want me to call up, maybe go over there to Congress. No. We heard where he was. We had to make a decision. We didn’t have time to call up Nancy, who is not operating with a full deck.”
Iran was retaliating with missiles for the U.S. killing Soleimani in Baghdad, Iraq. The president said Soleimani “was actively planning new attacks and he was looking very seriously at our embassies, and not just our embassy in Baghdad.”
Mr. Trump also mocked House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat, saying he would be certain to leak details of any secret military operation to the media.
“Can you imagine, calling crooked Adam Schiff?” Mr. Trump asked. “He is a big leaker. They want us to tell them [military plans] so they can leak it to their friends in the corrupt media.”
The campaign stop in the battleground state of Ohio was, as the president said, his “first major stop of the year.” Mr. Trump captured Ohio in 2016 by about 8 percentage points over Hillary Clinton.
Toledo is located just south of the border with Michigan, another battleground state, and there were many supporters from Michigan in the crowd.
The president touted the benefits of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement for Ohio, calling it a “historic victory” for the state’s workers.
“Ohio just had the best year economically in the history of your state. And this year’s going to be even better,” he said.
Despite the loss of GM’s manufacturing plant in Lordstown, Ohio, this year, Mr. Trump said factories and steel mills “are roaring back to life” in Ohio. He said he has ended “the same globalist policies that devastated your communities and shipped away your jobs.”
The president took some jabs at Democratic candidates, for example, noting that Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is slipping in the polls. He criticized former Vice President Joseph R. Biden again for his son’s lucrative deals abroad while he was playing a key role in foreign policy for the Obama administration.
But mostly the president focused on his own record of a fueling a strong economy, rebuilding the military, cracking down on illegal immigration and improving services for veterans.
“This is bigger than it was in 2016,” Mr. Trump said. “Now, I’ve completed more promises than I’ve made.”
He said of his prospects in November, “It’s going to be for the record books.”
Mr. Trump said he spoke earlier in the day to five evangelical leaders, and reported to the crowd, “They said we have never seen enthusiasm like we’ve seen for this president.”