WASHINGTON (AP) — A claim from the second presidential debate and how it stacks up with the facts:
DONALD TRUMP: “I would not have had our troops in Iraq.”
Trump has repeatedly said in the campaign he opposed the Iraq War before it started. But the facts are clear: He did not.
There is no evidence Trump expressed public opposition to the war before the U.S. invaded. Rather, he offered lukewarm support. The billionaire businessman only began to voice doubts about the conflict well after it began in March 2003.
Trump’s first known public comment on the topic came on Sept. 11, 2002, when he was asked whether he supported a potential Iraq invasion in an interview with radio host Howard Stern. “Yeah, I guess so,” Trump responded. During a Fox News Channel interview with Neil Cavuto in January 2003, Trump suggested the economy and threats from North Korea posed greater problems for then-President George W. Bush than Iraq, but he did not say he opposed a possible invasion.
On March 21, 2003, just days after the invasion began, Trump told Cavuto on his show that the invasion “looks like a tremendous success from a military standpoint.”
Trump bolsters his position by pointing to an interview he did with Esquire. He was quoted as saying he opposed the war, saying he “would never have handled it that way.” He made that comment, however, 16 months after the invasion began.
Contributed by Associated Press writer Deb Riechmann.