Fox News and the RNC: 2003 clip backs up Trump on pre-war opposition to Iraq invasion

Does it? Trump’s pals at Fox dug up the clip below and posted it this afternoon as a refutation of Lester Holt fact-checking Trump at the debate last night. Trump claimed he was against the war; Holt countered that the record didn’t show that, pointing to what Trump said in 2002 when Howard Stern asked him if he supported invading. (“Yeah, I guess so.”) The exchange below, from Neil Cavuto’s show in January 2003, supposedly backs Trump up, enough so that RNC spokesman Sean Spicer began tweeting it out soon after Fox put it up.

Judge for yourself. Trump makes three points in less than a minute. One: After months of deliberating about whether to invade, it’s time for Bush to fish or cut bait. Make a decision already. Two, the key line: “Perhaps he shouldn’t be doing it yet. And perhaps we should be waiting for the United Nations.” That’s as firm as he gets. Three: Bush is under a lot of pressure but is “doing a very good job.” When you put that together with Trump’s earlier comment on the Stern show, it seems obvious that the guy simply didn’t have a strong opinion on the war either way. To the extent that he did, he was okay with invading, enough so to give Bush high marks despite the White House having beaten the war drum for the better part of a year. His only hedge has to do with the timing and UN approval and even that’s offered ambivalently. There’s no shame in Trump having held a soft opinion about Iraq; plenty of Americans did, I’m sure, although a heavy majority supported invading in polling at the time. His opinion was softer than Hillary Clinton’s was, in any case. But for whatever reason he can’t resist granting himself 20/20 vision in hindsight on matters of war. You see it on Libya too, where he made a statement supporting surgical strikes to take out Qaddafi on video before spending years afterward attacking Obama and Clinton for their mistake in intervening. Trump tends to be on the right side of public opinion about military action — and when that opinion changes, he does too.

In any case, Fox didn’t really dig this clip up. BuzzFeed had the full transcript between Trump and Cavuto posted in February. It is strange, as various Twitter pals have noted this afternoon, to see the network that was Bush’s most reliable media ally during the Iraq war suddenly scrambling to defend the current GOP nominee by looking for clips of him denouncing Dubya’s biggest project. But Fox tries to stay on the right side of public opinion too, at least among right-wingers.

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Jazz Shaw 5:31 PM on February 04, 2023